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Lulu Labonne

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm feeling confident

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

I watch other women all the time, I love looking at confident women wearing interesting combinations of clothes. It’s the ones who have unconventional bodies or who make ordinary clothes look special that really get me looking at what they’re doing.

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

A woman who 'carries' herself well draws my admiration

4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?

That I had to let my hair be what it wanted to be - it took several perming disasters to realise this.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

never buy something you have to squeeze into, in fact generally you should get things that are a little too large

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

wear shoes that you can walk at least a mile in

7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?

my boss once told me never to have more than two crazy things going on on my head

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.

Recycle with invention and humor, make a unique thing out of banal things, try unusual combinations, no clutter.

9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?

proper trousers – I never wear them, they're for the grown-up I'd like to be and I never have the right shoes for them.
Also cardigans, I forget that I already have several dreary cardigans, they never seem dreary on the racks they look silky and alluring

10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?

I gave my mother-in-law a necklace made of tiny silver bones that looks perfect on her.

11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why? 

Many of the shoe-related trends - Uggs, Birkenstocks, crocs, high heels this would be because they make the wearer look retarded

12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?

If I think something makes me look like my mother I change immediately

13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?

I had a friend who looped her circle skirt up in her waistband. I tried this but it looked as though I'd accidentally tucked into my knickers after a bathroom visit

14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?

I used to dress in a way that I though of as bohemian - then someone said that I looked like a newsreader. I worked on getting more 'punk'

15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?

I buy vintage and charity-shop clothes, I like them but I am strongly aware that most fashion is made in sweatshops, I am appalled that people don’t connect the cheapness of high street clothes with the human cost. It is even worse that ‘high end’ labels also exploit cheap labour. The issue of using the planet’s limited resources for throwaway fashion upsets me too.

If I had money I would pay people directly to make me clothes and I'd be happy to pay a lot.

16. Please describe your body.

The body is good: tall, well-proportioned, healthy. I'd quite like a better head shape and nicer feet though.

17. Please describe your mind.


18. Please describe your emotions.

reigned in

19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

denim tunic, mid-length sleeves, big square pockets. Big tuquoise earrings, orange bangle, black tights, brown suede men's brogues.

Hair is wound up into a French pleat, the white stripe in th efront section makes it look like a Mr Whippy ice cream

20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?

When I’ve got the right outfit on I can deal with anything.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Every one

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I probably 'bland down' for institutions

23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?

Who wants 'taste'?

24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?

Expensive coats that I daren't wear

25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?

buying larger sizes

26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?


27. Can you recall some times when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?

There are clothes that I think of as armor. I have a sticky-out stiff blue skirt that’s a bit cartoony and makes me feel light-hearted and tough, I feel like Lucy from the Peanuts in this skirt. I wear this with a rigid leather jacket.

28. Would you say you “know what you like” in the area of fashion and clothing? If so, do you also know what you like in other areas of life, that is, are you generally good at discernment? Can you say where your discernment comes from, if you have it? Or if you don’t have it, why or why not?

I do now - because I've tried lots of things that didn't work

29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?

My parents have no interest in clothes so they taught me how not to do things. I picked up any care tips later in life but I still treat clothing appallingly

30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?

perfume and the right neckline

31. Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you?

lack of self-consciousness

32. If dressing were the only thing you did, and you were considered an expert and asked to explain your style philosophy, what would you say?

wear things that feel nice

33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?

I am always taken by a good compostion also humour and generosity

34. What do you consider very ugly?

uniformity, meanness, things being too tight

35. Are you generally a good judge of whether what you buy will end up being worn? Have you figured out how to know in advance?

Not really but I just pass it on so it doesn't matter

36. When you look at yourself before going out, and you are trying to see yourself from the outside, can you describe a bit about what this “other person” is like? What do they like, dislike, what sorts of judgments do they have? Is this “outer eye” based on someone you know or once knew?

If I do this then it will be before an important first meeting and I worry that they will think that I look unconvincing

37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?

I run through the day in my head, who I'll see, the weather, activities then start with the shoes

38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?

Comfort then stylish

39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?

the difference in emphasis on comfort and style

40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?

something from a sci-fi show

41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?

me = striking graphic patterns

not me = stewed-fruit colours

42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?

My parents and their families come from very puritanical stock where dress is very dull, I react against that.

43. Do you remember a time in your life when you dressed quite differently from how you do now? Can you describe it and what it was all about for you?

I went through a 'smart' period hoping to appear more grown up

44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?

I wear more sober things and make my hair neater

46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?

When I see some of my girlfriends we dress up for each other

47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?


48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?

I like uniforms - comforting

49. What is an archetypal outfit for you; one that you could have happily worn at any point in your life? What do you like about it?

The tunic dress - it's simplicity

50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?

I'd love to try it out but I'm pretty sure I'd want to give it back after a short time.

51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?

Beatnik Paris, revolutionary Mexico

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?

I dislike my mouth

54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?

Frida Kahlo, Tina Modotti, Simone de Beauvoir, Audrey Hepburn, Marina Abramovic,

55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?

Quite a lot where they disintegrate or disappear

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

air hostess - anything smart

57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?

slim trousers

58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?

I try and wear the sort of thing that would attract the sort of people I’d like to meet.

59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?

wear what the fuck you like

60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?

I like subtle perfume - I only wear it occasionally

61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?

be clean

62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?

I'm not comfortable in a lot of make up

63. Is there a certain look you feel you’re expected to like that you have absolutely no interest in? What is it? Why aren’t you interested?

Most of what gets shown on fashion runways - it's usually made for impossible bodies

64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?

no - I have no idea how it compares to other women

65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?

A dress with an astonishing print that I bought a few days ago

66. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don’t you wear it, and why do you keep it?

A very expensive cashmere coat a gift from the man who became my husband - it seems too likely to get damaged

67. Looking back at all your purchases over the past five to fifteen years, can you generalize about what sorts of things were the most valuable to buy?

Things I've just spotted in shops and had a gut instinct about.

68. Is there an item of clothing that you once owned, but no longer own, and still think about or wish you had back? What was it, what happened to it, and why do you want it back?

I had a shiny red kaftan that my brother brought back from Tunisia, it was perfect for me and very flattering. Another woman took it without me realising until too late. My brother has never bought me a clothing gift before or since.

69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?

the denim tunic I'm currently wearing

70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?

get a good set of shoes and work from them

71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?

I bought a good coat twenty years ago that I still wear

72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?


73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?

it's always shoes, my feet are broad and little is both comfortable and good-looking

74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?

I do like things orderly, I have a sort out two or three times a year, banishing half the items to under-the-bed boxes and recirculating things I haven't seen for a while

75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?

A woman whom I had just met the day before gave me a fabulous and unusual ring, she said she thought it was perfect for me, it is still one of my most treasured items. I have never seen her since

76. Did you ever buy an article of clothing without giving it much thought, only to have it prove much more valuable as time went on? What was the item and what happened?

that happens often. There was a tunic dress once which seemed unremarkable for years until I suddenly had the right shoes for it.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I never go purposely shopping for clothes but I always 'keep my eye out'

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I like to smell clean and warm

79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?

In the way that when I get the right combination I feel very capable and I think that transmits to others

80. How does money fit into all this?

I have never had much money but my early years living with my grandmother and her sisters who had been through a war taught me about recycling and invention

81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?

a lipstick

82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?

I think some nice compliments have helped

83. Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you describe this moment and what it was about?

A shopping trip aged 7 with my new stepmother to the Army & Navy Stores. I chose a nylon shift, roll neck, swirling paisley-pattern, sleeveless – quintessential sixties, it made me feel rock 'n' roll special. I still love paisley.

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

1961 born Kent live in Bristol UK

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.

middle class, white

What kind of work do you do?

artist, surgery receptionist

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?

married, no kids

Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.

I have always been aware how women are constantly looked at and judged. I've always wanted how I look to be on my own terms

How do you feel after filling out this survey?



An artist living in the UK, I also write a journal and put drawings on my blog

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