Jodie Kidd: ‘It was a wonderful, terrifying moment when everyone was under my skirt’

The model and motor-racing driver on the extraordinary, unexpected challenges of the catwalk – and the joy of dressing down

This look was from 1998, when I walked for Yohji Yamamoto in Paris. He said to me: “You’re the strongest model we have and I want you to be the bride.” I thought, “How brilliant!” And then I thought, why would he say “strongest”?

He took me out the back where this ginormous bamboo structure was waiting for me. There was a white brace going across my shoulders and bamboo went from my waist out to the hoop underneath the dress. All the weight was supported by my shoulders. Yamamoto gave me Dr Martens boots to wear underneath – I couldn’t wear any high heels with this.

At the beginning of the catwalk there was a tiny doorway – I had to hold up the sides of the dress and shove myself through. On the other side, I had to let go of the bamboo, which then flipped out, and these four guys came with bamboo sticks to hold up my “hat” (which I hadn’t even thought about because it wasn’t there at the fitting).

Where did you get that hat?
Where did you get that hat? Photograph: Mark Large/Daily Mail/Rex/Shutterstock

I don’t know how I made it through; the skirt covered the first rows on either side of the catwalk. It was this wonderful, terrifying moment when everyone was under my skirt. The other weird thing was that I couldn’t see the end of the catwalk because the dress was about 4ft wide.

I remember opening at Givenchy, for Alexander McQueen’s first ever show, wearing a corset. They had got my waist down to about 15in (38cm). I was trying not to hyperventilate. So I’ve been very uncomfortable in shows before, but at least I didn’t feel as if I was about to pass out in the wedding dress. It was just fun and different; I loved it.

I’ve spoken a lot about experiencing anxiety from being in the public eye when I was very young. I felt as if I had work-Jodie, who would dress up in wonderful creations from incredible designers, but I also just wanted to go to the supermarket without being recognised. I love being at home in a cashmere jumper, drinking a glass of wine and relaxing, being out and about in my Belstaff [racing] leathers, or being on the catwalk, dressed up in Chanel. It’s so difficult to say which I prefer, I love them all.


As told to Leah Harper

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