Making the decision to move from France to the UK was not one that I took lightly. I’d not assumed that it would be easy, but I felt that, equipped as I was with my command of the English language and a suitcase full of clothes (that I was soon to find were hopelessly outdated), I’d be able to find my way through the romantic streets of London that I was soon destined for.
Despite having spent many holidays in the UK, I’d not yet had the chance to visit London, so in my head the city was an amalgam of movie cliches and stereotypes – imperfectly jammed and unlikely to ever exist in reality. It didn’t matter. The London that I eventually got to know would become a much grander, deeper, seductive place than I had ever seen depicted in the movies.
I knew that when I’d made the decision to study in London that I’d probably make a few friends and get a degree, but what I didn’t see coming was the sexual awakening and fascination that would be borne within me within just a few weeks of my arrival.
Us French are somewhat idolised and vilified in equal measure here in the UK. I soon grew to understand this odd dichotomy that had existed for decades, partially as a result of outdated sitcoms and the fallout from World War II. On the one hand we are sex objects, applauded for our seductive accents and sensuous appeal. On the other hand, we’re a traitorous breed of cowards with arty-pretensions and appalling taste in clothes.
Although I was made aware of these odd cliches that somehow still existed in the 21st Century, they didn’t have as big an effect on me as I’d expected them to in London.
It’s hard to claim that a city has ‘adopted’ you when you’re talking about a city with around 8.1 million people living, working, learning and hustling in this impossibly busy mega-city; however I can say that I certainly felt embraced by the culture that I found through a series of exciting, risque encounters.
British people might well attribute us French with erotic qualities, the truth is that we are no more promiscuous than any other European people. We all have our first times, we’re all nervous and we all have (varying) emotions when it comes to how we feel about our bodies. Although I was by no means a virgin when I arrived on the shores of the UK, I still considered myself somewhat prim and proper, needless to say that was all to change within a few weeks.
My design school was one that I’d waiting months for a reply from. Gaining entry into it was the first true test of my abilities and once I found out that I’d got in, I was over the moon. I’d proved myself worthy to join the legion of hungry, young designers who were all jostling for attention in the Big Smoke.
All that jostling was to prove to be the catalyst for something much grander and seductive than I’d ever expected…