A life in the shift of...
Jessica Morris, 27, shop assistant at Vivienne Westwood, London
Saturday 17 February 1996
Breakfast is a cappuccino and croissant from the cafe nearby. Before we open at 10am we have to tidy, polish the gilt mirrors and Hoover. There is no formal rota system, but we're very democratic. We even get an equal share in the shop's commission. Not like at Gucci where I worked before. Assistants would fight over customers and slag off your hair. It was so petty. We're very nice to our customers, although some people are disappointed. They'd like us to look down our noses and sniff, 'Would madam like to try it on?'
Before Christmas around 20 Japanese customers would be waiting outside when we opened. Most of our clients are Japanese, pop stars, fashion students and drag queens. It really annoys me when people just come in to poke fun. They'll giggle at the blown-up photograph of the man's bottom on the wall or will fall about laughing when they see the shoes. Loads of people came in after Naomi Campbell fell off the Superelevated ones. Because Vivienne's shoes are very over the top, very high and very, very sexy, we get a lot of shoe fetishists. You'll catch a guy gazing at your feet or he'll ask you to try a shoe on and request a size 11 - for his wife.
Most of us speak another language: I speak Italian. I ran off to Italy for three months before my exams at Portsmouth College of Art and Design where I was studying fashion. I wanted to be a dancer but I've never been much of a sticker. That's the worst thing about this job: the monotony. I dream of being in Italy or America, but twice a year I get to go to the fashion show in Paris, which is a definite perk.
If it's quiet we nip down stairs for a ciggie. If you have a hangover, you can hide downstairs tidying cupboards. Alternatively you can wear a see-through blouse to distract people from your face.
We close at 6pm. My boyfriend is a musician and cares nothing for clothes. We go to a lot of gigs and concerts. He'll be wearing jeans and a T-shirt and I'll be wearing pink platform shoes and a leather corset. I always think it's best to overdress. Don't you?"
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