ACNE PAPER #5
Jarvis Cocker & Camille Bidault-Waddington | Musician & Stylist
Interview by Anja Cronberg
That Jarvis Cocker was once the singer in a band called Pulp has probably not escaped many. His wife Camille Bidault-Waddington is just as respected in her field, consulting for brands such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Martine Sitbon and Pucci, as well as working as Fashion Director of Self Service magazine. This couples love of style is evident in both their professional output and their off-duty appearances, and here they candidly share with us all the story of how they met to why stylists for bands should be illegal.
Camille Bidault-Waddington: We met when I styled his record cover ages ago, I was going out with a photographer at the time.
Jarvis Cocker: Yeah, there was no romance at that point.
Camille: It was purely professional. We didn't see each other for three years after that. And then we met again at Steve Mackey's birthday party. We got drunk and talked a lot. We talked about children, and he said he didn't want any. Afterwards I went back to London but I forgot my blankets, so later had to go pick them up at his house.
Jarvis: And then we decided to go on a date.
Camille: Jarvis did this thing that I love. At first I thought it was weird, but now I like it. When we go out he checks to see what I'm wearing, like the colours or shapes. It's not that he tries to match me but he can dress in the same family of colours. It's this old school way of showing that you belong.
Jarvis: Yeah, but it's not like we wear exactly the same thing. It's not like it's his n' hers.
Camille: No, no, that's not what I'm saying at all. It's just like the same family of colours.
Jarvis: It's about wearing something related.
Camille: When I styled Pulp that first time, I remember Jarvis came with his own suitcase of stuff. I still remember Jarvis came with his own suitcase and stuff. I still remember that blue jumper, the one with a boat neck. It was quite girly, but still cute. He finished with all his own clothes, which I think was really good. There's no way he could have worn anything else.
Jarvis: I think stylists for bands should be illegal. The thing about a band, for me anyway, is that it isn't just to do with the music, it's to do with an attitude. The way a band looks has a lot to do with that. I expect a band to write their own songs, and I also expect them to dress themselves. I think it's cheating if you get someone else to do it for you. It just doesn't seem right to me. With Pulp we never had a uniform, it would have been physically impossible. We were never an elegant group.
Camille: You were all a little like cartoon characters, but you were very inspirational. When I didn't know him, he was very cool. I still find him cool, though I know him more now. It's true that you were a fashion icon in those days. Like Blur with their student T-shirts, and Suede with their black leather jackets and skinny trousers -- it was a fashion musical moment.
Jarvis: I suppose so. The thing I have against stylists is that the stylist might be very talented, and do a really good job...
Camille: Ah so you're trying to be nice to my profession for one second!
Jarvis: No, I'm not. What I mean is that if a stylist manages to make a band look interesting, when they're really boring, then that's a con, and it should be prosecuted under the Trade Description Act! Obviously people have influences over you, and can help you along the way, but in the end you have to make your own decisions. I've probably worn some terrible things over the years.
Camille: Yes, you did! But really you can handle lots of things, because of your body, and your behaviour. You look good in everything.
Jarvis: Well, you didn't like when I wore those plastic sandals.
Camille: Oh god, I hate them! Imagine those little toes in plastic, at, what, thirty-eight? If I wear something he doesn't like, I usually don't wear it when he's there, but I do sometimes wear it when he's not. It does put me off a bit though to know that he thinks it's crap, although he's much more polite about it than I am. I don't dress for other people, but I do dress for the occasion. Like when Jarvis curated the Meltdown festival in London. First I thought it would be cool to wear my Chanel suit to the Motorhead concert, but then I thought it would be uncool just to be the opposite, and in the end I just couldn't be bothered. All the same, each concert made me dress in a different way.
Jarvis: Yeah, but you didn't put on a leather jacket to go to the Motorhead concert, and then a boilersuit to go to the Cornershop concert and a ball gown to the John Barry show. I don't like it when people try to fit in too much. You have to tailor yourself a little bit to your surroundings of course. To me that's like if it's raining you'll wear a plastic mac and an umbrella -- it's just being practical -- but you don't want to end up being a social chameleon.
Camille: But I am. It's part of my job.
Jarvis: Yeah, but you don't throw your own aesthetic out the window just to fit in with the occasion do you?
Camille: No, but I'm less faithful to things than you are. If I like something, I'll probably end up hating it five minutes later, and then liking it again ten minutes after that. Being in my job, it's inevitable to keep having those reactions. I used to wear lots of colour, and lots of people still think I only like pink bows. Now I don't like things that are too frilly, there's a certain Calvinism over my style.
Jarvis: I think you're good at combining things that you wouldn't immediately think would go together. You have a good imagination. I, on the other hand, have no imagination whatsoever. I've stuck to the same things for twenty years. I try to look like a slightly edgy geography teacher. Like what a geography teacher looked like when I was in school. Cords, sensible shoes and glasses. I never liked geography much as a subject though. In fact the only geography teacher I can remember from school was a woman who had a moustache.
Camille: I've thought a lot about elegance now, and I have to say that I don't really know what it means. It's impossible to talk about elegance as constant. Well, I think it has to be something very natural and un-contrived, but I find the concept very abstract. I know a lot of people that other people find very elegant, but I find them all too done and so contrived. I guess elegance is something you find in somebody's manners and in their body language, it's not just the clothes. It's probably a way of thinking, but I don't really understand what it means. Like Greta Garbo wearing a white tank top and wide trousers, if you put that on somebody else it's a tragedy. Elegance is not really to do with the clothes, although if you have good clothes it helps.
Jarvis: Elegance goes with the person, with their personality. It's more difficult for a bloke to be elegant. Peter Cushing is always elegant. He was in a lot of horror films in England. He was very thin-faced, and would always wear tweed. And Christopher Lee, you know the one who was in The Wicker Man, he also did lots of horror films and was quite elegant. They were gentlemen, and not too casual.
Camille: For a woman it's easier to look casual and be elegant, although the fashion industry is full of very contrived-looking people. The fashion industry is very fascist compared to the movie industry. I think people should just be honest about what they wear. Like during Fashion Weeks, there is something so tragic about this uniform of black and Balenciaga and Saint Laurent, all you see is a bunch of black insects.
Jarvis: I think we should talk about what clothes are for. The time when I started to buy my own clothes and think about them was when the punk-rock thing happened.
Camille: In the 1970s?
Jarvis: Yeah. I am old. Anyway, the whole thing was that you had to make something for yourself, and wear things that other people wouldn't wear. You had to come up with your own individual thing. Clothes weren't just something you wore to be attractive, it was more like a statement about what you thought about things. That might explain some of the more boderline things I wore. Punk did turn into a uniform, but the initial message was that you had to make it up yourself. Where did your interest in clothes come from?
Camille: Well, I come from a city outside of Paris, my parents are very bourgeois. Not in an aristocrat-chic way just in a boring, golf player way. Not exactly middle class, but really boring. I remember as a small kid, my father said, "All right, now you're old enough to buy your own clothes." I was about fourteen, fifteen, and I went to lots of vintage stores to buy 1960 style stuff, lots of leopard patterns. My father hated it and stopped my allowance, and after that I had to go buy clothes with him. Basically I was like a young hooker with my father, buying all these designer clothes that I didn't even like. As soon as I was out of the house though, I wore all my vintage clothes. I still remember about five years ago when I went home to go to a family party, my father felt he had to check my outfit to see whether what I was wearing was OK or not. Imagine that at my age! And from a man that has no sense of style whatsoever! I can't believe I'm being paid all this money to consult on those kinds of issues, and my father from Normandy with his cashmere cardigans is telling me I look dreadful!
Jarvis: My mother used to make me wear clothes that I was totally humiliated by. Like Lederhosen. She had this idea of what she wanted me too look like, which I most days found quite distressing. But, apart from the Lederhosen, I've come to appreciate it in later life. She had a very strong sense of what she would and wouldn't allow me to wear. Like when I started secondary school Birmingham bags were in. They were super wide trousers, a bit like the ones Camille's go on today, and they would flap around a lot in the wind. They had a high waist, and a three button front and my mum said they were stupid. I was only allowed to have slightly flared trousers. when I was a kid I felt self-conscious about not being allowed to join in with the trends at the time. There were these star jumpers, very tight and with two stars on them, but I wasn't allowed one of those either. I had a lot of handed down clothes from older relatives. Sometimes, getting older, I'll buy some of those clothes at jumble sales just to have them. I have a star jumper now. When I was young I had a big complex about not really fitting in and looking different. That's why the punk thing was so important for me. I was about thirteen at the time, which is an important time in any boy's life anyway, and punk taught me that it was a good thing not to look like everybody else. That was really helpful for me at that age. Instead of worrying about being different, I would accentuate it more. This is what you have to do as you get older. You turn disabilities into advantages, so that something that could be embarrassing becomes your selling point.
I think we've established that elegance isn't just about clothes. It's more to do with the person's aesthetic, isn't it? So something that looks elegant on one person could look **** on another person. It's about how you make something fit in with your personality and say something about you.
Camille: But if you heard someone say "Ah, but I'm so elegant!", that would be the freakiest thing ever. I mean, it's good to be confident, but if you go around believing things like that about yourself it's the beginning of the end.
Source - MissMagAddict at The Fashion Spot for typing this.