Afterward, I am exhausted. All those personal messages! As I leave, to more applause, I overhear one lady saying, “They can’t say Texas don’t give hospitality.” She’s so right.
I was due at a private party for the patrons of the Crystal Charity Ball but am running late and have to go straight to a show rehearsal. I ask my niece Roberta to represent me at the party. When I catch up with her later, I am sorry I missed it. Roberta tells of an extraordinary stone and glass modernist house in the woods filled with a mixture of modern and antique furniture and art. The guests—the cream of Dallas society—were clearly very wealthy and could no doubt afford anything they wanted. To make them want Armani, we cannot simply sell them clothes; we have to sell them a dream.
At the rehearsal, I ask members of my team and some local fashion students who have been helping out to stand in for tomorrow’s models. They walk the catwalk, provoking a few laughs, while the technicians run through the music and the lighting. I stand and direct the lighting. It is like being a conductor. Or maybe a film director? I love the movies and have always wanted to be behind the camera. Realistically this is the closest I will get—staging a small drama on the catwalk.
Once we are satisfied, we go for a quick dinner at Bice, the Dallas branch of the famous Milanese restaurant. Last night I did Texan; tonight it’s comfort food. I have prosciutto followed by scallops with lemon sauce, typical Bice. The wine is very good. I have become more interested in wine as I have started to produce my own in Pantelleria, the island where I have long had a holiday home. At present there’s a limited production, but maybe I’ll start serving them in Milan at the Nobu restaurant I have in my store.
Friday, September 7
I arrive at Neiman Marcus at 7:30, and our conference room has been converted into a beauty salon: the usual chaos of tissues, products, hair dryers, mirrors. I check over the work and then go and sit in the stairwell to leave the professionals to it. The hair is gently futuristic—spiky bobs and center partings with a slight wave. The makeup is not too over the top but gives the girls good definition.
When they’re done, the models come out to the stairs to see me. They want their picture taken with me, and we joke around. I hug them and make them feel loved. It’s really important to create a rapport with the models, since, for the 20 minutes they are on the catwalk, they are the custodians of all my work.
Suddenly the time has come. I dispatch the models and then follow, walking the black carpet that has been laid along the pavement to the huge black tent where the show will take place. Backstage I find my girls and boys—models, dressers, hair and makeup, security, my design team and photographers. The producer shouts, “First changes!” and we’re off. I position myself at the entrance to the runway so I can do a final check of each model. I am told there are 600 people in the tent. I do hope the models are not overwhelmed by being on the catwalk.