The defenestrating model

Susie and Earl Cave leaving the Gucci Show in Milan, 2018

I am sitting in the car heading back to the hotel – I’ve just been at the Gucci show – and I’m looking out the window at the streets of Milan and remembering my first Italian photo shoot. It was in a desolate industrial site in some dark part of Milan. I was probably eighteen, completely unknown, wide-eyed and full of wonder. When I arrived I had my make-up done. The make-up job was absolutely monstrous; one of those rare occasions every model dreads when the make-up artist marshals all her talents and transforms you into the very worst version of yourself. The next thing that happened was a bunch of guys with cameras told me to take my top off. This seemed a strange request. I excused myself and went to the bathroom, locked the door, opened the window, climbed out, fled down the fire escape and ran for my young life.

This was nearly the end of my modelling career. My outraged agent dropped me. I was the talk of Milan – a nobody who ran away from a prestigious, high profile shoot. There were the usual mutterings that I’d never work as a model again. I was to hear this threat many times in my career.

The good thing was another model agent, the legendary David Brown, heard the story, loved it, contacted me and had me on the cover of Italian Vogue two weeks later.

To be perfectly honest I had no issue with taking my top off at all. I couldn’t care less to be honest. The reason I ran was the make-up was so hideous. But I will say that that little act of defiance pretty much made my career.

And now, well, I’m sitting in the car with my darling husband and my beautiful son, heading back to the hotel from the Gucci show, and we have just witnessed one of those defining moments in fashion – a feat of unbridled imagination, a mind-storm of ingenuity – and I’m looking out the window barely able to speak and Milan seems totally transformed and full of all manner of possibility and wonder. Thank you, Alessandro. Thank you, Gucci.

Love, Susie