CLOSET WITH… Alma Jodorowsky
Paris. I’m ten minutes late. I got off the metro at Louis Blanc even though I could have stopped at the station before, Château Landon. It’s raining, and I’m faced with choosing between keeping my umbrella above my head to save my hair and having both hands free to fumble with Google Maps. As it happens, I realise I’ve walked the wrong way and as well as having no sense of direction, my hair’s all over the place.
I send her a text saying “I’ll be there in 3 minutes.”
“Great, see you soon”, she replies.
I’m finally standing in front of her door. I ring the bell and wait. I hear a little noise which seems to be coming from inside the flat. I wonder if I’ve come to the right place. A few seconds later the noise becomes clearer and I immediately recognise the paws of an animal of the canine variety scratching against the door.
My heart starts racing. I love dogs, but I’m also a little scared of them, and I have no idea what this one looks like. If I’d known I’d have checked out her Instagram…
The door finally opens to reveal Alma’s beaming face. Between smiles she attempts to hold off her Shiba to stop him jumping up at me.
She gives me a warm welcome and apologises for Merlin’s slightly overfriendly greeting.
“Merlin! *Enchanted*!” I say to the dog, although I’m not sure the joke works…
And so I walk into Alma Jodorowsky’s flat. Lou Reed is playing in the background. An enormous room is framed by a small staircase on each side, both leading up to converted lofts. Upstairs there is a bedroom and a storeroom-cum-attic used occasionally as a guest bedroom.
We’re both a little embarrassed, but Alma is good at making people feel comfortable and offers me some tea.
She really is beautiful. Wearing a soft shade of lipstick, a long, baggy jumper from Zara she “just found in the cupboard”, so she says, a pair of black, turned-up April77 jeans and Doc Martens high-top boots, also black. She confesses that she didn’t really pay attention to her outfit this morning, but it definitely suits her. I immediately notice what seems to be a small collection of hats, which are almost all attached to the wall by the stairs up to the attic. There’s a mixture of new and vintage, including a superb Stetson bought in New York for 10 dollars.
All of a sudden, she turns around:
“No! No!…I’m so sorry, you might see him practicing his shagging technique,” she tells me, shooting a disappointed glance at her dog.
“I’ve tried to teach him not to do it in public, but does he listen?”
Merlin seems to be completely comfortable with me, which I’m pleased about.
I then remember why I actually came here: the dressing room.
I had certainly noticed the hats hung on the wall, and the coats on a high rail as I walked into the room, but I hadn’t realised that I was actually already in the dressing room!
Under the hanging coats and jackets I see a piece of furniture specially designed for the space, with an “industrial” look.
“My boyfriend made it, he makes furniture out of metal.”
Just next to the door under the stairs are fitted shelves which hold several pairs of men’s’ and women’s’ shoes. I ask which ones she prefers.
“I’m really into black boots. I go through phases actually, but when I love a pair of shoes I wear them until they’re gone!” she says, showing me a pair of unbranded, handmade, black ankle boots she bought in Amsterdam two years ago.
She then takes me on a tour of the other wardrobes.
Whereas most other people are used to keeping their clothes in one place, Alma has peppered her flat with several small closets. So in the entrance there are coats hung up, with skirts, t-shirts and jumpers in the metal chest of drawers. In the sitting room she has installed a little wardrobe next to the window, and uses it to store all her handbags and a few dresses. There are lots of blouses and evening dresses in her bedroom, and she keeps everything else in the converted loft – clothes she doesn’t wear that often. She’s not too sure about this set-up, but for now, it works.
I ask her if sometimes, when she’s downstairs and wants to wear something she’s put upstairs, she doesn’t, just because she can’t be bothered with the stairs. Or if, when getting out of the shower (she’s just told me she plans her outfits in the shower), she chooses what to wear based on where they are in the flat. I know I would wear the same thing almost every day as long as some jeans and a jumper were sitting next to the sink…
“Actually, I choose something, say some trousers, shoes, a blouse or a jacket that I want to wear that day, and depending on the room, I look to see what could go with it. And I don’t have to run around that much. If I lived in a palace that would be different, but here it’s ok!” she says, laughing.
I then suggest a little game with Alma:
“I’m going to pick three things at random from your wardrobe and you’re going to tell me how it came into your life, where you bought it and whether it reminds you of anything in particular.”
I grab a colourful miniskirt. Bright colours, flowery patterns and birds, all held together by a 70s, almost psychedelic feel. It’s unwearable, and Alma bursts into laughter seeing me pick it up, immediately admitting that she has never worn it, or maybe just once. She did like the material though, and keeps the skirt as she knows that one day she’ll give it a try.
I then pick up a shocking dress, giving my host a dumbstruck look and wondering what the hell it’s doing in her wardrobe.
It’s a blue/grey, short-sleeved, knitted dress which stops at the knees. And on the front – all in wool of course – is a beautiful Christmas scene with a little reindeer waiting outside a snowbound house, waiting for someone to start work, if you catch my drift…
Alma takes the dress and turns it around:
“And you haven’t even seen the sexy backless side…” she says, with a twinkle in her eye.
I bend down to look. From the back, the dress is black, made of a very fine, partially transparent material. A dress from Urban Outfitters, bought in New York.
“It looks great on, I swear. It’s my Christmas dress! I wore it to a DJ set I did with some friends. Honestly, I’ve worn it loads,” she says with a laugh, knowing full well that no one would be seen dead in this dress…
My third pick is a vintage shirt bought in a second-hand clothes shop in Amsterdam…
White, a little discoloured from the sun or tobacco, the shirt is decorated with embroidered flowers on either side of the row of buttons.
“I think that was a present from my dad, I was with my little sister, I must have been 16 or 17.”
“You seem to spend your life in Amsterdam!” I exclaim, before realising I’m almost shouting.
“No, I’ve only been twice actually,” she says wistfully.
“Well you’ve certainly got a good memory to be able to remember where you bought this or that piece of clothing!” I say, lowering my voice this time.
Alma confesses that she works like that a lot: she remember things that have happened by trying to think about what she was wearing at the time, and the clothes bring her back to the memories and her past.
“When I wonder happened on a certain day, I remember what I was wearing and that reminds me of what I was doing. A lot of the time, anyway.”
We carry on chatting next to the small wardrobe, in front of a mirror she calls “the Mirror of Truth.” It’s placed in front of the window in full daylight.
“That makes it impossible to cheat, which is something I really hate,” she says. “I’m lucky enough to be given quite a lot of clothes, and as I work as an ambassador for Chanel, I have some really beautiful things and don’t need to buy expensive clothes. I’m not someone who blows everything on shopping. Well, except in moments of weakness. I bought that Carven sheepskin jacket over there”, she admits. “But I really prefer buying my clothes second-hand. I shop at Cos, and even Zara and H&M. I also like bringing things back from my travels. For example, when I was in New York I bought that jacket at Opening Ceremony, but other than that I’m not really compulsive.”
I ask my final question:
“If you had to choose a uniform, one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
She replies instinctively:
“A pair of skinny, high-waist black jeans, with black boots and a slightly open blouse with flowery patterns, all topped off with a beautiful, slightly masculine, but well-fitted coat.”
Alma is set to be one of the main characters in a new programme called “La vie devant elles” on the television channel France 3. The series will have six, one-hour episodes, and will see her playing a miner’s daughter in northern France during the 1970s.
She will be on the bill for the new film “Kids in love”, out in 2015, in which she acts alongside the very promising Will Poutler and Cara Delevingne, the renowned face of many fashion brands.
The first EP from her band, Burning Peacocks has also just come out.
While waiting to record the album this winter, Alma and her associate David Baudart will be playing at the Trianon in Paris on the 23rd of November, for the Festival Black XS.
“What sort of music is it?” I ask her, making it clear that I haven’t the faintest idea…
“I suppose it’s dream pop, yeah you could call it that,” she replies kindly. “The song is mostly about love, but not just that. I’m happily in love and it’s harder to write about it when everything’s going well.”
Merlin is lying down near the window like a good dog, looking out at the rain, and watching me as I put on my coat, probably hoping Alma won’t take him for a walk just yet…
“I’ve got to go to the post office to collect a parcel, but I think I’ll wait a bit”, she says.
Merlin gazes lovingly at her as I say my goodbyes.