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Designer Diaries: Dima Ayad at LFW

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Day 3 – Saturday, 19th February 2011

08:30 am:
The Big Day has finally arrived, I barely slept last night! So many things to do this morning before leaving to the Charing Cross hotel: last minute fixing, sewing, tweaking… Everyone gets on with their tasks until it’s time to leave. Nerves are setting in. We are waiting for one of the dresses which was left behind in Dubai.

A friend of mine who just landed in London is due any minute now with the dress but we are getting late and I want to make a move. Decisions decisions, shall we leave without it or wait and fear getting lost in the London traffic? We finally decide to split the team in two, and Emilie and Natalie leave first.

12:00 pm:
I think I will feel a tiny bit more relaxed after finally being able to visualize the venue, the stage, and seeing the models trying on the clothes. Finally the dress arrives and I leave with my PR person in a hurry.

12:30 pm:
The hotel – located on the Strand, very close to Somerset House – looks nice and cosy, and is bigger than expected. We are swiftly greeted and guided to the allocated spacious room where all the designers, models and hair and make up people will share the space. I am relieved to found out we are the first to have arrived and my girls have taken the best spot in the far corner.

12:30 – 18:30 pm:
Little by little, the room is filled with people, clothes, more clothes, laughter and chatter. The organizers are a bunch of dynamic and cheerful girls. They allocated an assistant per designer and send us the models to start the fitting. Of course, as we have never seen them before and had to match my dresses with pictures of them, there are a lot of change to make, upon realizing some girls don’t ‘wear’ the dress properly, look unconfident in them or simply don’t fit the dresses properly.

The afternoon goes on, with my team and I fitting all our assigned models and making last minute adjustments and changes to the runner order. We take turns to make errands for food and coffee: outside the street is buzzing with crowds of people.

It seems so strange to escape for a few minutes the madness of the hotel and realize that outside, the world just goes on without any care for the frenzied activity that develops just metres away. We are trying not to focus on the other collections which are displayed next to us, but thankfully it appears none of them have any similarities of style with my label.

The models start practising on the runway.

18:30 pm:
My parents, sister and some friends have already arrived. I can’t meet them yet, for fear the emotions that overwhelm me will take the better out of me. Instead, I am focusing on bringing the collection to the backstage and changing for the show.

19:30 pm:
Doors opened. As I was backstage, I did not see anything but we all peaked and saw a packed audience (I was told later that it was so busy, rows of people were just standing at the back). I am number 4 out of 7 designers. The organizers make a prep talk to galvanize us, everyone is silent yet super quick. One by one, the models exit to the stage, come back and have to be changed and dressed in speedy efficiency.

When my turn comes, I am dying to see what goes on outside, what is the reaction of the audience, which dress is a success, how does the collection look like from the front row and so on…I barely have time to change the models when my turn comes to walk the stage and bow before my audience. It goes so quickly and the lights are so blinding, I barely registered the audience cheering and clapping, the lights from so many cameras and I was back inside again.

21:00 hrs:
I can’t believe it is over already, yet somehow I am glad some of the pressure has eased off. But this is just the beginning. We now have to work on the PR and retail sides, and make sure the orders will be ready come September, when the collection will be delivered to the stores. But for now if you’ll excuse me, it’s party time and I desperately need to let my hair down.

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