Image: Lydia Garnett
January 29 2013
It’s an early start as I take
the “Deathly Dawn” Eurostar at 5.40am from London St Pancras to Paris. I relax
into my seat after a late Sunday night and am grateful for the unoccupied spot
next to me. As the train pulls out of the station I can spread my long limbs
and enjoy the journey. I travel a lot by plane and train, and the things I
appreciate most are space and quiet. We pull into Ashford International, the
final stop before we cross the channel. I look up and (any FT-reading World Wrestling fans among you might grasp this
reference) Giant Haystacks’ big brother is standing there. Meekly, I retract my
limbs to afford this gentleman as much space as his body can consume. The train
leaves the station and Haystacks major very quickly falls into a deep sleep. A
sudden feeling of claustrophobia comes upon me. Mr Haystacks then begins to
snore – a snore like I’ve never heard before. He makes himself comfortable,
pressing me towards the window, a position I hold for the duration of the
I arrive in town as the selling period of Paris Men’s Fashion Week draws to a close. I am here to meet the head of buying from one of Japan’s leading menswear chains. He has stayed over to discuss a collection his company would like us to design for them, beginning autumn/winter 2013. I am excited by the prospect, as this is one of the top three designer men’s store groups in Japan. They have successfully been buying our collections for the past two years.
I arrive at my hotel in Rue Saint-Honoré, the epicentre of Parisian cool. As my bag is taken to the hotel lobby, I notice the taxi speeding off with my fabric portfolio in tow. I shout after the cab to no avail; I am forced to sprint (in my mind), pushing aside pugs and super-chic grands-mères while attempting to maintain an air of cool, for what seems like 1,500m but is actually more like 20m. Finally, I attract the driver’s attention and retrieve my treasured case.
Our meeting is successful. I sign off a collaborative label design and, to my surprise, they would like to make a greater commitment to the project than I had initially imagined.
Those of you who read my previous FT diary last April may recall I have a city routine. When in Paris I always visit Shiseido in Palais Royal to top up on my beloved Ambre Sultan scent, followed by Colette, Goyard, Hermès and the restaurant Le Castiglione for light replenishment. These are my prescribed stop-offs, where I can always quite easily find an excuse to do more than a little shopping. Today I decide to replace my 15-year-old Goyard card-holder, which now somehow doubles as a mini briefcase and is bulging at the seams.
Back at my hotel I catch up on the day’s activities. We are working on an increasing number of special collections with some great companies, each with its own dedicated brief and profile. Today I am also negotiating a knitwear project in Italy for a collection we do for Barneys department stores. Scrolling through my messages, I’m thrilled to see in the press that David Beckham has been spotted out and about in London wearing one of our jackets. It’s the second time he’s been snapped in this piece; after the last sighting we were inundated with enquiries. Beckham crystalises any vague thoughts I may have about the power of celebrity.
I speak with my son Charlie and approve the final images for a six-page shoot we have been given in super-cool style magazine Hypebeast, part of the same company as the popular menswear blog of the same name. Charlie and I design our collections together and exchange information and ideas throughout the day – and often into the night. I retire to bed reading Daniel Mendelsohn’s excellent Waiting for the Barbarians, which includes some of the best modern criticism and dissection of popular culture. My beaten body savours the space and quiet.