Style | Diary of a Somebody

Maria Grachvogel

Lights, girls, kudos: it’s showtime – and success – for the designer

Maria Grachvogel

September 19 2011
Maria Grachvogel

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

It’s show day! I haven’t really slept all night as adrenaline is keeping me awake, so when the alarm signals 6am I am ready to get up and start my day.

I arrive at the studio just after 8.30am and have no idea what I am going to wear today, so that is my first task. I want to wear one of the new samples, but having only just finalised the running order the night before, I wasn’t sure which ones would be left for me to choose from, so I spend the first 15 minutes trying on the pieces not included in the show line-up. I slip on the clay Odyssey dress and realise that this is the one. It was actually the very first sample I created for this collection, so somehow it feels like absolutely the right choice.

Cars are booked for 10am to take us to The Savoy. The team start to arrive and get busy with the last tasks; the printer was having a bad moment last night, so there are still some running orders to print and Steph and Elena are trying to fix the printer. Hatty is adjusting the seating list again with more RSVPs. Cars are here and we load the 15 bags of samples and countless boxes. Charlotte is keeping a tally as each box is loaded, making sure we have everything.

I travel with the collection and I am the first from my team to arrive at The Savoy. The doorman helps me unload onto a tall rail and we wheel the collection into the backstage area. Hair and make-up teams are already there and busy setting up. Mel Arter is briefing the MAC team on how to apply a brand-new eye product she is using today and Kenna is briefing the GHD team on how to create the zig-zag “lightning” parting he has created for the show.

My team arrive shortly afterwards and get to work on organising the rails with the model cards. We realise there is a mistake on the boards, so one of my girls is carefully rearranging it all. Ingrid Collins, a dear friend of mine, arrives to do healing treatments backstage and I take 10 minutes out with her for a little calm. A show would never be the same without Ingrid’s support – it totally transforms the backstage into a lovely serene haven.

Damian Foxe, our stylist, is having a final look at the whole running order and wants to rearrange the jewellery. He wants to make it more dramatic so we decide to layer the cuffs so they peek from under the large draped sleeves and to use only the most dramatic earrings.

We have only one of our models who we haven’t seen yet as she flies in from New York this morning, so as soon as Milly arrives she is whisked off to try on her three looks. Everything fits perfectly and looks amazing on her as we thought it would and, even more miraculously, the last pair of shoes we have also fit.

Now that the last girl is here we are ready for the walk-through, so all girls are gathered and put in their shoes and we all assemble front of house. All the photographers have arrived and set up. Mel and Kenna sit in the front row to check hair and make-up and Damian and I are giving instructions to the girls. They are all walked through the choreography while cameras flash so photographers can test their lighting etc. One full walk-through to test the timing while we all watch, and then the girls are whisked back into hair and make-up so we can start to let in the guests. I love being back at The Savoy – it’s the most perfect location for my collection and I just soak up the beauty of the ballroom for a moment before disappearing off again backstage.

There is a massive queue outside and once the doors open, the front of house team are busy seating everyone while backstage, girls are getting into first looks. My husband, Mike, arrives with my son, Ansel and I have a cuddle and show him around backstage, introducing him to everyone. We have created a VIP area backstage for guests of Butterfield private bank and this gives me a chance to chat with their clients before the show.

The girls all line up backstage, Anna Morel starts calling time and we are ready to go. Music starts and the girls are off. The next 15 minutes flash by with Paul calling the girls’ names to keep everything in order while Damian, Rose and I make final touches to the outfits as the girls are in line. The girls all walk out in their last outfits for the finale and I walk on at the end to an extraordinary cheer from the audience. Wow! That has never happened before and I am blown away.

Then the mad rush.... a swarm of people coming backstage to say congratulations before rushing on to the next show. Holly, the Harrods buyer, tells me her favourite piece, Jess Cartner-Morley says a quick hello, Brix Smith-Start comes back to tell me how much she loves it and suddenly I am pulled away for the interviews, all carefully organised by Kim. After the interviews I am given a lovely cold glass of Moët and spend time with my team, friends and family celebrating the end of the show. The Butterfield clients are also thrilled to have been a part of this and they are all excited to be visiting the new store later on.

We pack everything up and cars take my team back to the studio so they can prepare for this evening’s launch party. I go off to Home House for a bite to eat with Mike, his mum and some friends.

I am back at the studio by 7pm, just in time to have a drink with all of my team before the evening kicks in. I am presented with a card from all the students who have helped in the run-up to the show to say thank you for the amazing experience. So lovely. I put the card pride of place on display for the evening. The shop looks gorgeous – the front lit by bright pink spotlights and the Quintessentially Wine team poised and ready.

The German TV crew who interviewed me backstage are here also and want to ask me some more questions before the crowd arrives.

Even before 8pm guests are arriving and soon the party is in full swing with Quintessentially’s finest champagnes and wines, the gorgeous Diamond cocktails, and I can barely move for the number of people in the store. It’s wonderful to celebrate the opening of my new store with all my team, clients and friends, some I haven’t seen for ages.

I am home and in bed by 11.30pm, exhausted, and I have the most wonderful night’s sleep I’ve had in ages. I then spend the weekend with Mike and Ansel having some family time and getting ready for the busy week ahead.

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