Quite a lot of people assume I lead this uber glamorous life. Launching collections in Paris, writing books, floating around the store, jet setting off to various hot climes around the world to hold design schools or visiting our factories and artisans in the Far East and yes I do all that but there is also a lot that happens behind the scenes that isn’t all glamorous, a very different story in fact.
Hot off the heals from our Paris launch to incredible acclaim which we all keep pinching ourselves about (big thanks by the way to Elle Decoration for picking us as one of the highlights of the show not the mention the US magazine Lonny and the Australian magazine Vogue Living) we are all on cloud nine, seriously guys thank you. Also thank you to all those retailers that have brought into the collection I am so excited to have it go all over the world with some pieces selling out before its even landed. Crazy exciting stuff, the above slide show shows shots of our Paris stand. Today I wanted to take you behind the scenes on the run up to the show where life wasn’t quite so glamorous as everyone thinks. So just in case you might think launching in Paris a 106 piece collection in one of the most beautiful cities in the world is all glamour, glamour, glamour think again.
Here’s what really happened.
4 days before the show opens we start on pack up day. 6 hours plus of lugging, and shoving and lifting the set and a ton of products into the van, add a further 2 hours spent in the loft trying to locate the staple gun to pin the walls and sometime a little after 10pm when my hip gave out we finished. Glugged wine, moaned, groaned, snuggled the m’s and went to bed.
Next day is a 3am start for the advanced set building team (which included G and David) I got up to see them off. Stand on the street in my pj’s waving off G and feel scared and a little sick. A fire on Eurotunnel meant delays were 6 ½ hours long for freight so the boys decided to go via sea. Only there were 10 mile ques at the port and more delays, resulting in the boys getting to Paris much later than we had factored in.
On arrival in Paris at our stand some lovely exhibitor had dumped all their stuff which only a fork lift truck could remove, (can you find a fork lift truck when you need one) which set the boys back another 3 hours. Meanwhile I’m making my way to my parents house to drop off the M’s when an accident on the M11 shuts down all surrounding routes for 5 hours! Stuck with 2 hungry dogs and no way of exiting with a car that kept stalling and barely any phone charge!Spoke to G at the end of his mammoth 20 hour day and started freaking at how behind schedule we were. Next day got up at 3am, kissed the M’s, and drove to pick Gem up for the first train out to Paris. Freaked out when I saw how behind we were when we arrived. Neither Gem and I had brought painting clothes, had assumed that would all be done on the first day (note to self, never assume and hire more people). Ran to the loo, turned clothes inside out, climbed up a ladder and for the next 7 hours helped paint, set build etc etc. It’s around 5pm that Gem and I begin to start dressing the set. The show opens the next day, we have until midnight to get it done or we’re toast.
It’s also bloody freezing, massive doors to the outside are all open so the wind is whipping and gusting and making everything miserable. I’m in gloves, hats, scarves, double coats I’m so cold I can’t feel my hands or feet. Lug everything off the truck with Gem the boys can’t help they are too behind to set build. We load trolleys we can barely push due to the weight out from the freezing cold indoors which is the same temperature. Dress the set till midnight when security kicked us out. I’m so tired my legs won’t move, I don’t even have the power to lift them to get into the taxi, G had to literally push me in. The taxi driver I think thought Gem had similar leg probs as me so he copied Graham and pushed Gem in behind me. Even though I’d been up 21 hours I don’t think I have ever laughed so much. Gem was so tired she didn’t even notice she had been propelled into the taxi on top of me!
Got to the hotel at 12.30, drunk more wine moaned and groaned went to bed at 1.30.
6am start to get back on set as its show day. Everyone around us is in high spirits, dusting, cleaning their products hovering yabberine whereas we are screaming and freaking and nailing, and touching up paint, and humping stuff to and from the darn truck as we are so not finished. We’ve still got a ceiling to put up (didn’t have time), a logo to erect (lost it), more painting to do (its amazing what those giant faux cactus hide) and electircals to wire!
30 minutes to show time I realise that all the shades to all the lights are still on the van, zoom out to grab them only to be stopped by security and told nothing else is allowed in. I beg, I plead, I freak, I stamp, I cry but to no avail. I am in a huge state, its inconceivable to open with no shades on any lights but then I have a brain wave. I’m wearing leggings and a big floaty skirt so manage to get all the shades under my arms and between my legs and the bulbs up the leggings and then pidgin step my way past security to the stand. ‘Abigail’ shoouts someone from somewhere ‘ I love what you do can I take a picture’. Oh hell I’m walking like a pigeon I’ve had a few hours sleep for the last few days, I have no make and bed hair as I slept through the alarm and I’ve got shades coming out of everyone, plus security are giving me some funny looks and I’m terrified I have been rumbled. “Maybe later’ I politely say and try and zoom off in a slow mo pigeon kind of fashion!
Show opens and we’ve still got ladders and paint cans and hovers on the stand and tool kits and bits of yesterdays lunch and who knows what else and people are coming in thick and fast. “Quick everything under the bed” I yell. We shake ourselves down, apply some lip gloss, take a breath – Show Time!