A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
This is a guest post by James New and Jessica Richard, and the second in this blog’s Inspiring Friends series.
My wife loved fashion. It was not only what she spent most of her money on, but also how she passed most of her time. She had a great eye for style, she used the Net-A-Porter website as much as most people use Google, she worked in the industry and was passionate about it. But one aspect of fashion that I think she loved more than any other was the role she played in supporting and nurturing creative talent within the industry. In her professional life she did this as a fashion agent, shaping and building the careers of her clients. In her personal life she did this as a shopper, buying clothes by labels started by friends.
There were two things that Desreen loved way above and beyond fashion, though: her friends and her family. And that’s why she squealed with excitement the moment she heard that her three main passions were about to collide. One of her oldest friends, James, told her he was launching a childrenswear label with his girlfriend, Jessica. Our son, Jackson, would be the best-dressed boy in town.
Having met whilst both working at Vivienne Westwood’s London design studio, James and Jessica fell in love and had a little boy, Billy, who became the inspiration behind the collection. Jessie & James now sells in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores including Liberty and Harvey Nichols.
After Desreen died, James and I went to the pub together and drank way too much. We spent hours together talking, but one thing he said stayed with me more than anything else: ‘Desreen never asked for any freebies from us. She bought every piece of our clothing that Jackson owns.’
I know she did that because she wanted her friends’ business to be successful. She loved the people behind the label and she loved dressing our little boy in the garments they designed. In fact, the very last gift she ever bought Jackson was a pair of their trousers, which I picked up from the post office on her behalf the week after she died. They were intended as a Christmas present, but have now become a final treasure that I have kept wrapped for him until the time is right.
Late last year I got a text message from James. He wanted to tell me that he and Jessica had designed a dress inspired by and named after my wife. The ‘Desreen dress’ goes on sale later in the year (I’ll share more details when it’s available), but today’s guest post – the first to feature no words by the contributors – exclusively reveals its designs. It will come in three colour ways – yellow and navy in cotton; pink, burgundy and cream in cotton; and pink, peach and cream in cotton and silk. I just know that as a fashion enthusiast who was so desperate for a little girl of her own, Desreen would have been thrilled to be immortalised it such a stylish way.
Thank you Jessie & James.