The Schoolgirl

When my Mum died I found this picture of her that I had never seen before. She is wearing her school uniform and her rebellious spirit shines out, in fact the shirt and tie highlight her burgeoning non-conformist approach to life. She has the innocence of youth yet she has allied herself already to the revolution against the values of her strict parents and teachers. She was like that for the rest of her life. I learned to be a rebel from my mother (though she didn’t like it much).
I think of the schoolgirl as the one who sees everything that is happening. She may be still a child but she is the witness to changing times. When you overhear a group of school girls on a bus, the conversation is brutally honest. There is no fooling her, yet she wants to be fooled too. She is going through the process of deciding what she will protest against and what she will put up with.

Camilla Rutherford was the actress in my short film Hideous Man. She played the Schoolgirl/Greek Chorus, watching, witnessing, and trying to get in on the act.

Photo by Julian Broad

These girls are from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school in Islington. I helped them to redesign their uniform and I stayed in touch with the naughtiest of them, Billie JD Porter. As soon as I saw her I recognized that sparkle, that refusal to accept the humdrum or second-rate, combined with a fierce intelligence. She is now a successful TV presenter with the darkest, driest humour.
Years later I asked her to be the model in my AW15 look book.