Diane Goldie: “Too old to be fuckable…”
“...and not old enough to be objectified as the adorable eccentric granny .”
Usually, I’d write some glorified description of a person I am talking to. I won’t this time. You need to see yourself. This is a very important conversation with a woman who’s been through a lot in life. Yet she’s still going strong. I know she cries sometimes. We all do. I admire her for speaking out loud about issues we, as a human race, have to deal with. Issues she needs to deal with as a woman, lover, mother and an artist. She’s not a celebrity, she’s not even famous but I assure you she’s the best company when it comes to conversations about life. Red Table Talk? Make some space.
Fetysz: Outspoken. Brave. Storyteller. Loving. Caring. Fighter. These are the words that come to my mind when I think about you. How would you describe yourself?
Diane: My go to phrase to describe myself will always be Too fucking honest. This is a mantra that I live by. It gets me into trouble sometimes but on the other hand it is at the core of who I am and the root of my authenticity. Being honest is at the core of everything I do. It is why I rage against this current world in which we live. I deeply believe that my strength comes from my ability to be vulnerable and stand in power in that truthful space. Honesty is my protection, because once you are honest, no one can hurt you.
I believe this need for honesty above all stems from my healing from a narcissistic family setting where gaslighting was the order of the day. Once I found honesty, I found sanity.
I am an honest, spiritual, political, courageous artist. I’m only just now learning to own these things, so forgive me if that sounds less than modest.
Fetysz: Diane, we live in bizarre times. No talent is a talent and being talented is considered being cocky , too confident , too needy , too expensive - you name it. As a freelance artist yourself, what difficulties do you meet?
Ha ha ha ha... you’re describing social media world. I don’t take it too seriously, to be honest. I ignore celebrity culture, as it is all an illusion. There’s no honesty, no integrity so I can’t relate. But therein lies the rub as my market place is social media. I understand that algorithms love a negative storyline but I refuse to compromise for viral exposure. I will not go the Dove/ Gucci/ Burberry route of shock /offend/apologise / cash in. I shall not capitalise on pain and racism . That is offensive and part of the problem that I’m trying, in my own small way , to address. I was very lucky to be featured on the Trojan horse style platform StyleLikeU on Youtube where I could speak my truth . I say Trojan horse because style is just the cover, their real thrust is political change through honesty and vulnerability. I couldn’t love them more. My video got over 600K views which isn’t bad for a fat middle aged woman sitting on a stool and speaking about her pain . Fat is just honest . I’m fat. There’s no insult there. But back to difficulties of marketing a concept that is counter the current culture... it’s tricky. Or is it ahead of the game? I don’t know. I’m just moving forward in the only way I know, one person at a time. Bringing joy and emotional connections to people who don’t need to be sold what i’m offering. ( This feels like therapy, in the best possible way hahahahaha!)
Fetysz: You cannot choose this way of living -it’s choosing you. You create beautiful pieces and hands down your kimonos are to die for. What’s your fashion background?
I certainly didn’t choose this. I fought the artist identity for most of my life until my father’s death. As I sat with his body, I had a huge moment of Carpe Diem that was visceral. It was a spiritual catharsis. I realised I couldn’t die with regret and this was the only NOW I had. From that moment I grabbed the label artist by both hands and by the cunt. I birthed myself . My mother had spent her entire life trying to stop this from happening and in that moment , I became an adult. I was 48. See? It’s never too late to begin.
Thank you for your kind words about my kimonos but I don’t actually believe I’m responsible for creating them. I seriously believe that I am a mere channel for the work to be done. I work in a space of presence. Empty mind. Call it meditation if you will. There are no decisions taken apart from some basic starting pointers from the client. The rest is just flow. What’s my fashion background? Hahahaha! None. #fuckfashion.
Fetysz: We live in times where big brands are openly copying independent designers -money is their privilege to keep stealing someone else’s ideas and keep putting labels on them. Have you ever been in a situation where a global brand stole something from you? What’s your view on that?
I’ll keep this simple. Gucci Cruise collection. Inspired by London Style Tribes... apparently.
I’d been working in this aesthetic for four years before that broke onto the scene to much acclaim and to the regeneration of Gucci’s fortunes.
Ah fuck em. I’m not a designer. I’m an artist. I’m counter culture and always will be. When Establishment want war, pacifism is punk.
They will keep stealing. I’ll keep on moving.
Fetysz: As a mature, outspoken independent woman -have you been rejected often as an artist? What was the reason of this rejection? What’s the situation of women your age in modern society ? People say ‘age aint nothing but a number” but I see a lot of discrimination out there. Employers want everyone to be young and experienced but young aint experienced and experienced aint young.
Can I just take a moment to say thank you for this question. It’s actually good to be seen. Hello... ( takes off my invisibility cloak for a minute and sits next to Bartek for a good rant about ageism ,Patriarchy and all things male gaze. )
There is a reason my StyleLikeU video is called I may not be fuckable but I’m not for you to fuck. Think about it for a minute. That simple statement speaks about male entitlement of the female form and the reduction of the female body to mere fuckability. As a woman in her mid 50’s , with no beauty regime, no high heels, no diet, no botox ( poison in my face? Fuck off) big comfy knickers and sensible non underwired bra I have never felt more sexy. I’ve never felt more at ease with who I am as a human. If other brainwashed humans can’t feel my fire and my soul, that’s their problem. Unfortunately this incarnation of me as a mid 50s woman means to the larger society, I’m rendered invisible . I’m not joking. I am a fat , loud , glitter wearing , colourful bohemian and yet I seem to disappear when I’m standing at a bar. I disappear when the photographers are at the exhibition. You see, I’m too old to be fuckable and not old enough to be objectified as the adorable eccentric granny who doesn’t confirm to societies stereotypes of what an old person is. And it’s a fucking good job I’m able to earn my own money doing this as you try getting an interview for a job as a female over 45. Menopause is an interesting time for women. You go quietly mad after burning up and then it seems you turn transparent. Hello ... hello...
Fetysz: What pisses you off these days?
How long have you got?
Fetysz: As long as we need. Bring it on.
Sigh. On a general level, Neoliberalism that has created this ridiculous narcissistic society where every man is an island and if you are vulnerable that means you should die, where there is no such thing as society and giving food to the hungry can get you arrested. Where we have endless charity porn ads on the telly parading black bodies as the victim and the white man as the saviour when our own are dying on the streets and on people’s sofas as a result of Austerity. Fuck off Comic Relief.
Call me a bleeding heart snowflake liberal if you will. This snowflake will gather with some sharp pieces of glass and other snowflakes and rocks and form a big fuck off avalanche. Institutional gaslighting, where Theresa May plays my mum and drives me fucking insane.
Cuts to the police don’t contribute to knife crime? Not in Number 10 Downing street, cos you’ve got your very own bobby on your doorstep . The deliberate demonising of the NHS in an attempt to privatise it, then the mainstream media trying to use my daughter’s suicide note to link her to their own political agenda . The journalists were banging on my door the day after I got the news of her death. They are vultures.
Sexism that infiltrates MH diagnosis and creates total diagnosis bypasses . I blame fucking Freud and his hysteria . His entire theory based on Greek Myths I believe was created as a mass gaslighting as he was told he couldn’t continue with his sexual abuse creating acting out theory. Freud could’ve been the first real hero. Instead he chose his own career and threw women under the bus forever. Patriarchy pisses me off, with it’s insistence in fitting our rainbow people into two fucking boxes for status reasons. To create an underclass. That’s fucked up . Change the system , not the people. Leave humans be.
And our planet... We’re fucked. Raging to the end.
Fetysz: Tell me how do you create your pieces and who are your main clients?
When creating bespoke pieces, it’s a combination of light therapeutic style conversation with the client so I can gain insight into their character and the mysterious unknown quantity that is the absorbing of energy that just happens, whether in my company or remotely. I suppose the best way you can describe it is I’m like a psychic artist who works in textile. I just try to remain open and feel and trust the first things that come to me. I have a fairly standard procedure of the basic structure, like style of garment and sleeve style etc. but things start to really take shape with the choice of colours. I ask people to choose colours that are emotionally resonant with them rather than what others have told them suit them. I believe if you surround yourself with colour that makes you feel happy, you will be happy. Happy people are beautiful people. Sometimes it’s just that simple. The next step is choosing imagery to decorate the kimono. That can be heros/sheros/ personal symbols or passions. My favourite image for women is their own face. I encourage women to have their own backs. We are so shamed for ‘vanity’ in this culture and yet expected to perform beauty for other’s benefit. There is no feeling quite like having your own back. Try it sometime. I’m told it’s like medicine. It makes me walk taller and be proud to occupy every little bit of space I’m entitled to. No shrinking violet here once I put on my kimono.
After the imagery is handpainted and appliqued, there is always room for further decoration with rich florals and natural elements, including birds, butterflies and skulls. The last two , continuing my nod towards my respect for death and the eternal cycle of life. I believe that surrendering to the inevitability of death is a way to inner peace. A skull to me is not gruesome or dark. It is a reminder to be present.
Text , sometimes in banners , is often applied, very often they are chosen by the client. Many times I channel phrases whilst making; these are my favourite moments.
Finally BIG pockets are added. Large enough to hold an ipad or a book. This is really important and is a deliberately political decision.
There are often tears upon presentation of the garment. There is always connection. And | often gain a friend.
Who are my clients? They are humans of the brave variety. They are broken and mended with gold types. They range from band members ( Tank and the Bangas ,winners of the Tiny Desk Challenge on YouTube, an 8 piece New Orleans band who defy categorisation each have their own kimono. ) They are powerful spoken word artists, like Dylema , Salena Godden and Dominique Christina. They are magic women like ‘Moniasse “ Laurence Sessou who you see models for me in the photos, she is my sister witch, unique and a bespoke human of her own creation. They are rebel women like Sue Kreitzman, my goddess mother, an outsider artist and visionary who has championed me from the start and silenced my mother demon ,chasing her from my ear. They are men who are fucked off with the status quo and demand a new way of being represented, with honesty and grace. They are young visionary women like photographer and film maker, A. McGrane and all round bad ass Daina ( Feroce) Renton. There are women who started off feeling less than and now pump iron as well as kick ass in life. ( Love you Dannie-Lu) . They are hero doctors with pink hair at the coal face of our mental health crisis, who is an extraordinary human and has no idea. ( Jenny. xx) They are people who save up for a year for their special garment . Everyday heros who i will probably never meet , who contact me on social media. They are fighters, lovers, grafters, the ones I keep going for. They are you. You on your best day.
Fetysz: In one of your posts you’ve openly confessed that sometimes its hard for you to pay your rent or meet ends. People don’t want to spend money on something unique because they can have a cheaper copy of it? What’s happening to artists in fashion like you?
Okay I’m going to have to answer this one in bits...
I believe in vulnerability . I believe that when you are truly open , people respond. It’s not always easy. I had to swallow lots of pride to make that post. But I reminded myself of my core mission to walk the walk of integrity , so I held my breath and made it. I was rewarded with an outpouring of love and real , practical solutions. People shared my website, offered me free business advice, linked me to people who they thought could help, people bought kimonos, placed orders.... it was truly humbling. I spent an entire day in tears of gratitude. In times like this when we are told that people are nihilistic and narcissistic and greedy, things like this floor you. You see, I realised that because of the illusion , the shiny shopfront that is social media, everyone presumed I was making lots of money. So noone placed orders. They didn’t want to overwhelm me. The opposite was the truth... but social media disguised it. I didn’t want to end up like Mick Jagger’s ex girlfriend who lived a life of extreme debt trying to live up to her social media image and took her life in despair. We can change the story. We can use social media in a different way. It just takes courage.
You can’t get copies of what I do cheaper than what I charge to do it. And it won’t contain the element that people appreciate most: the connection to spirit. So thats a bit of a non statement for me.
And I’m not working in fashion. I’m fucking fashion. I’ve always understood the link between fashion and feminism, the insidious brainwashing and control it places on our bodies and minds, creating endless anxieties in order to keep us spending. The body shaming, the gender reductive constriction, the trends that kill the planet due to unnecessary over consumption, the exploitative practices at its core , as all industries are want. Fashion is dying and I’m here to deliver it’s coup de grace. Well ... in my wildest dreams anyway. So that means working in this arena is always going to be a struggle and that’s okay. But I’m a fighter and I believe in my mission. My army is growing. And I know that there are others like me out there.
Fetysz: In Ryan’s editorial that you can see at the end of the page, you can see your spectacular outfits. What are the prices of your pieces? You also customise clothes , from jackets to ties, how long does that process usually take?
I charge a day rate mostly and I work my prices from how long it takes me plus the work needed for research for bespoke. So most pieces start from around £320 for a bespoke kimono. I do limited off the peg pieces that I sell from my website. They start from around £120 and go up to £280 but look out for flash sales when I fancy a stock change. Yes, I know, I don’t charge enough. I’m working on it. I’m getting increasingly busy now and the only way I can grow my business is through raising prices. So they may have to go up very soon.
Customised pieces are charged on a daily rate and most customising is done inside two days for the most complex pieces. I’m a very fast ( some say obsessive ) worker and people have asked if I have elves helping. There’s no Santa sweatshop here mate... Just me naked on my sewing machine in the summertime . That’s a true story. I even inspired an artist to create the image of that story called the Naked Dressmaker. My life. I live on the top floor and have curtains so don’t bother trying.
Fetysz:Life since StyleLikeU ? How has it turned out...
So much has happened in four years since I sat on that stool and poured out my soul in my bra and knickers. I spoke about the love of my partner of 13 years and motherhood. I’m now single and although I’m a mother of two still, my eldest is no longer the eldest. Imogen took her life out in Cambodia two and a half years ago after a life long struggle with mental health issues and not being understood. She’d been diagnosed borderline 5 times by different doctors until I listened to her tell me she had met a girl who was Aspergers and it was like looking in a mirror. Things just fell into place. OF COURSE. So I wrote a letter of support that she gave to her final GP and he put her forward for urgent adult assessment. But tragically all too late. She decided she’d rather go to Cambodia and while she was there she took her life on her 28th birthday, along with her husband, Rob who held her hand. They went together. They loved. That’s more than many can say.
The tsunami of grief battered down my fortress of a relationship. Nothing was safe in it’s chaos. I’m grateful, very grateful for the beautiful times we shared. Nothing changes that. I was loved in a way I didn’t know I could be loved. And that is beautiful. But life goes on. I have another daughter who has grown into a spectacularly strong woman of whom I’m intensely proud and she and I are going forth into this wild world to live life to the full in honour of Imogen. She’s all around us, in everything we do.
I have created a range of clothes dedicated to Imogen in black and white featuring her artwork and lyrics. I’ve made her wedding dress that she never got to wear , and a suit for Rob too. I’m not finished yet, but when I am, you will know.
So now I inhabit a world where the veil between life and death is thin. I feel her. I hear her. And butterflies literally manifest. You’re just going to have to believe me. ( But I have the video.) This is part of my journey of magic. I’m her, in surrender awaiting my next mission.
Instagram / @dianegoldie
Twitter / @dianegoldieart