Long Live . . . Our Work

I have a thing for the royals, an interest my British friends find despicable, but I like the fairy tale elements. It’s not just the wash of beauty and glitter that draws me but the instructive parts.

Here’s a recent example:

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, nee Middleton, known as Kate, walked down the aisle of Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 wearing a smashing dress, the specifics of which were flogged around the tabloids for weeks, a dress made by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

Alexander McQueen, the driven, dark, openly gay, provocative, inventive, wunderkind designer known for his ability to shock and surprise, killed himself a year earlier. He was, at age 40, found by the housekeeper, hanging by his favorite brown belt in his wardrobe on Green St, London W1. He left behind a note. Take care of the dogs, sorry.

And yet, there’s a dress going down the aisle that bears his name on a young woman whose smile has been seared into the public consciousness like a cattle brand. One look at that smile, that poise, that dress, that workmanship, that mix of timelessness and modernity in the best Alexander McQueen tradition, an adherence on good construction and simplicity—and know that all will be right with the empire; just give it time.  

And McQueen? Once living high, living wild, living at the edge of what-the-fuck-mate-let’s-try-it thinking, didn’t live to see where his talents got him.

So, what can a writer learn from the Duchess and the Queen?

Two things. And a blessing:

First, please know that your work, your name, can live on well past you, your mark on a banner still flown high.  This shouldn’t change your day-to-day one whit, but you should hear this news as liberating.

Next: please write what you want. Like McQueen himself, break through your boundaries, as it’s where the good stuff comes from.

And now the blessing:

May you not implode in the process. Or hurt anyone. Or abandon your dogs. May you continue to do what you are doing and only get better at it. May you live to see Her Royal Highness—Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness of Carrickfergus—radiant and poised, go down the aisle in one of your masterpieces, the hope of the empire pinned to her 29-year-old bosom.

Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credits: Her Royal Highness by Audrey Pilato, americanistadechiapas; McQueen by Fashion Wire Press.