Style | Diary of a Somebody

Maria Grachvogel

The designer’s pre-show moment of truth: trying on the clothes herself

Maria Grachvogel

September 14 2011
Maria Grachvogel

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

This morning the weather is perfect – that wonderful combination of crisp cool air, bright sunshine and the smell of autumn as I walk through the park to the office.

My walk is also my daily exercise, so it’s important I’m comfortable. I have a number of “walking outfits”, the two essential elements of which are my MBT trainers and a sleeve scarf I designed a couple of seasons ago. It’s a great little thing, which keeps me warm and easily rolls up and fits in my bag. It is one of the most useful pieces I’ve created.

My morning walk is always a wonderful start to the day, and gives me time to consider my main goals. I have been non-stop for days now and remember a few things that have slipped through the net, so I stop and add these to my notebook as I walk. I pause en route at the Serpentine café to pick up a latte. I don’t have coffee every day, but when I do, this is my favourite place to have it.

One of the things I realise is that the last parcel of samples arrived yesterday and in the mad rush to get the last invites out, I hadn’t actually tried these last few things on! This is always my favourite part of the sampling process. My team and I are like children in a sweet shop when the parcel arrives and everyone gets involved in trying things on.

So, this morning I make this my priority and one by one go through the last few pieces. I love to try everything myself as it’s so important for me to know how the garment feels as well as how it looks on the body. I also love seeing the clothes on my team as I learn how the pieces work on different body shapes. Rose, my right-hand person, tries on one jacket and squeals with excitement: “I want it!” I think this is her favourite piece in the new spring/summer collection and I love seeing her get that excited.

Above all else, my goal as a designer is to make women, all women, feel fabulous when they put on my clothes. In the spirit of that, it is essential that real woman try them on; so it’s great that the whole team does this before we send the collection down the runway. We get very inspired by colour palettes, fabrics, prints and everything that goes into the collection. But for me, getting into the clothes is the real moment of truth. Ultimately, it is about how I and everyone else feels in the clothes, and I am looking for the emotion that makes me think, “I love this!”

I also have an eye like a hawk; I spot everything and use this time to troubleshoot any making or pattern issues. For instance, I am not happy with the way the lining is falling on a jacket, so I give instructions to my technical assistant Phillipa about how we can fix it.

As a business owner, I find I do have to commit a good deal of my time taking care of things that are not necessarily creative, but equally necessary to running a successful business. Today was one of those afternoons. So, after the high of trying on the final samples, I spent the rest of the day at my desk completing some critical tasks. First, I sorted out some new hedges for the front balcony of our new shop in Chelsea. Then, I finalised the details of a very beautiful and special customer gift for the new shop we’ll be opening in Singapore next month. Then it was off to do some research for our upcoming trip to Paris to sell the collection there in October.

I rush out of the door just in time to have bathtime with my son, Ansel. Luckily today, I’m wearing one of my Artwork print tops from the A/W11 collection and my magic pants, so I don’t need to change as the top is washable silk. As well as being incredibly beautiful, it is also mum-friendly! With Mike out this evening, I have a little quiet time to myself and catch up on my emails.

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