Posted on 24th September 2019 at 16:21
The day begins at 4am when a gentle knock on the door heralds bed tea. It is so hard to open my eyes but a switch flicks somewhere in my mind and a fizz of utter joy sweeps through me. Today is no ordinary day. It is the day the 2020 Spring collection will be photographed. Bharat, in his smart turban and beautifully pressed jodhpurs, pours tea, as I open the curtains to total blackness. The only clue it is day is a distant trill of birdsong. I sip the freshly made Darjeerling from a delicate china cup and give grateful thanks for being here, right now in this country I love, no matter what hour it is.
With trepidation I open the bathroom door. Always with trepidation. From my first trip to India when I shared a shower with a family of gekkos to another trip soon after, when I looked into the eyes of an insect wiggling anntenae from the drain in the sink. I have always expected to share the bathroom with the odd creature. Sure, these incidents were years ago, but the sensation lingers still .
I had pressed the collection yesterday using a small dry iron. My overheated feet being hotter than any tempreture the iron could reach. The ironing board was designed for the user to sit. I tried. I failed and spent six hours bent over the ironing board.
At 5am, on the dot, I open the door to a goddess and raise my eyes to her beautiful fresh face, with sparkling almond eyes and long silky hair. Sharon. Our model of several years still takes my breath away when I see her after a period of absence. Divya now appears with her disarming smile and perfect makeup followed closely behind by porters carring her boxes of tricks, makeup and lighting.
After kisses and catch up, we begin. First the make up and then the hair. Divya will create four looks over the course of the day having discussed colours and ideas with our photographer days before, using my rough sketches of the range. A cabinet is opened to reveal hundreds of shades of make up. Harrods beauty department would surely be impressed. Dextrous fingers, dipping here, flicking there with professional confidence contiually assessing her models face under harsh studio lamps. An hour to get ready before the daylight is right.
Another knock and Abhimanyu appears. Always the best dressed person in India, today he wears a sequinned top of reds, purples and pinks which sparkle and shimmer as he walks around the room. His presence makes us all sit up. Abhimanyu has a mission. He is strongly focussed on the order of the day. After thumbing though the collection he re-adjusts the shade of eye shadow and begins to descibe a perfect shade of lipstick he must have for the first outfit to be photographed..
I have a pile of accessories. Abhimanyu has more. We discuss which goes where. We each have flowers. I have bright blue hortensia, he has roses the pinks of which are straight from a book of romantic verse. I carefully unwrap a bead necklace which we will use for the final shoot of the day. It was commissioned for the Victoria and Albert Museum's Christian Dior exhibition. We too will be selling this fabulous necklace on-line this autumn. It is beautiful floral arrangement of beads and pearls which ties at the neck with an organza ribbon in the perfect shade of Dior grey.
The hiss of hair spray signals the first outfit to be worn. I open the door and a magical pink light drenches the room. Abhimanyu steps out carrying cameras and lights, marching with a purpose across the lawn. Sharon is just behind him, stepping lightly as a gazelle, wearing an ultramarine maxi dress with a bunch of flowers woven through her hair (I look like a flower pot, she says). Divya clutches fistfulls of brushes and lipsticks, hoping, I imagine, that no breeze stirs up to ruffle hair and that the cool of the morning lingers to avoid an unwanted glow. I pause before succumbing into their wave of beauty and creativity, wanting this moment to last. A peacock calls. Petals of hibiscus flutter. A bubble of emotion rumbles my soul. At this moment we four are in perfect harmony. The shoot begins.