The designers meet Pip Hackett, Scott Wilson, and Ian Bennett, three millinery students from the Royal College of Art who have been commissioned to design hats for the collection. This is a two-way agreement: the students get the opportunity of a real commission and all the publicity and press that goes with designing hats for a catwalk show. These milliners have a lot to live up to: they will invariably be compared to Philip Treacy who left the RCA the same year as Andrew Fionda in 1990.
Ren and Andrew are pleased with the students' toiles which range from glorified Alice bands to fishnet swathes wrapped around the models' faces. There are also eye-patches. Ren and Andrew try on the hats and romp about in a huge fluffy pompom which moults all over anything it comes in contact with. Fifteen hats are chosen.
Ren and Andrew made their first delivery on 14 February, to Bergdorf Goodman in New York. The store ordered 150 pieces - all black, except for six white shirts. Today, Ren will deliver a second order to Harvey Nichols by hand.
The boys meet Charlotte Pilcher who will style the show, and the producer Russell Marsh. The stylist will decide how to accessorise the clothes and to put them together to create a strong image.
They cannot afford Naomi or Linda but they want a girl who can sell a dress, who knows how to walk and move with grace and elegance. The mood of the clothes harks back to the days when you would never go out without hat, gloves and the right pair of ear-rings. So the boys want the show to have the same feel as a couture salon from the Fifties with "totally glamorous, chic women doing Dior poses".
Sven and Vanessa arrive. They are planning the design of the catwalk and the lighting. Ren and Andrew want the catwalk to be symmetrical because their hemlines aren't. They make do with a cheap flat plan of the catwalk instead of a 3-D model.
At 10am, a queue of models forms down the stairs around the offices of Bryan Morel PR. The boys ask each model to walk down the office for them, in a couture style. They might as well have asked for the girls to show them how they walk when shopping in Tesco. It is some years since designers have wanted models to walk with finish and panache. Most of them are used to slouching grunge style. Of more than 100 girls, only three are selected. The boys need 14 for the show.
Meanwhile, at the RCA, the hat designers are working hard, completing toiles and adding finishing touches to the hats.
At 5pm, Ren and Andrew are back at their studio. Ren is scrutinising a coat on a manequin, and Andrew is sorting out samples from the spring/summer '95 collection to go into the windows at Liberty. They are, in effect, working a juggling act on three collections: delivering orders from the spring/summer '95 collection; adding finishing touches and sorting out production for autumn winter and organising the show; and already thinking about fabrics and designs for the spring/summer '96 collection.
Everything is going according to plan after initial hold-ups when the bank refused a £70,000 loan to buy the fabrics. The pair has come a long way since setting up a label in Andrew's front room in Holloway where they spent any spare time designing and refining a look.
The collection is already at the showroom and buyers have started going to look at it. Pearce Fionda had their first order on 28 February, worth £3,000, from Thackeray in Northampton.
Angela Quaintrell, the fashion buyer for Liberty, has a 10am appointment this morning. She arrives and is shown through the collection which is hanging on the rails. Brenda, the house model tries on various outfits. Buyers often put in their orders before seeing the show; some buyers do not see the shows at all. Angela Quaintrell is pleased with the collection which is much bigger and more comprehensive than last season, and makes a rough selection of what she will buy. It is not until after she has seen the shows in Milan and worked out her budgets that she will put in a firm order.
Ren and Andrew are in the studio adding finishing touches to the clothes, a few stitches here, a buttonhole there. Everything else is ready and under control.
The day of the show: work has started early at Liberty with the shopfloor being stripped out, the catwalk built and seats arranged. The designers arrive with their collection at 2pm and set to work with Charlotte to decide how it is going to be presented with which hats and accessories, and which models.
At 4pm, Ren and Andrew rehearse the models.
At 8.25pm, all is quiet backstage except for the hum of hairdryers. The girls are having white strands of hair added to their marcelle waves. The dressers have been up since 5.30am.
Russell shouts: "Five to 10 minutes - we're almost there."
At 8.40pm everyone should be in their first outfits, but there is still frantic shoe fastening and ear-ring adjusting. The hair-clips are taken out of the perfectly waved hair. The small area is thick with hairspray.
At 8.45pm, the music gets louder and the first girl runs back to her dressing rail. For the next 15 minutes, there is a frenzy of changing. Front of stage, the girls look cool and preened; backstage they are under pressure. Ren and Andrew adjust each outfit as it goes on to the catwalk.
As the girls line up for the finale, there is loud applause. Saffron Aldridge is first off: "They loved it!" she says. "Can I go home now?" Andrew and Ren are being presented with flowers on the catwalk, overcome by stress and emotion. Their first show is over. Tomorrow they will be back in the studio, business as usual.Reuse content