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Emma Cook S/S 09

Following Cathy Edwards, friend and longtime collaborator of Emma Cook in the count down to Emma's S/S 09 show.

PhotographyMauro CocilioTextSusie Lau
The collaboration between Emma Cook and Another Magazine fashion director Cathy Edwards cannot be likened to other usual designer-stylist relationships. Above professional capacity, they are friends before anything else. "I went to college with Emma and I've known her since she was 18 as we did our BA together at Brighton.  I worked on Emma's MA show at Saint Martins and we've been working together ever since,' says Cathy. Together, they have grown up, knowing each other's tastes inside out; "When you're 18 or 19, you start to develop what you like about things. Emma and I did that together." On the day of Emma's show for her S/S09 collection entitled ‘Susie Soleil”, her second since she took a break to have a baby, this collaborative effort could be seen fully at work as Emma was feeling poorly and a fully knowledgeable and reliable support system in the form of Cathy was at hand to direct proceedings and ensure the show went off without a hitch.

10.36 I arrive at the Topshop Venue only to be told that Emma is not feeling well at all and that Cathy is holding the fort. There is a reason the Topshop show space is so cavernous. There's an entire fort down there and it's got Emma Cook acetate wrapping around it.  

10.56 After the test run through, Cathy grabs a sandwich from EAT's catering backstage and enthusiastically says we can talk. "We've got it down to a fine art. We don't like to have any stress backstage - can't handle it anymore!  So we've got a really good system, routine and team now." I had not anticipated this level of calmness. Where was the drama? Where was the stress? Emma was very quiet and feeling unwell  - perhaps she willingly allowed herself to feel ill knowing that such a well-oiled machine was in place for her show to take place.

11.09 A Portuguese/Brazilian (?) TV presenter asks who the stylist of the show was and then grabs Cathy for an overly enthusiastic/smiley interview to which Cathy happily obliges despite having answered the same question about the ‘inspiration for the show’ at least ten times prior to that. “Whenever we do a show Emma never does a literal reference and it will always be an idea revolving around Susan. One of the references for this season was this idea of circus but more like a dishevelled showgirl, maybe from the 1920s."  

11.18 The hair and make-up team arrive. I say team, but squad is more of an apt description with their black-t-shirt uniformity and serious demeanour.
11.23 Emma looks wearily at the cameras, which are not necessarily swarming around her but descending upon the few models that are here with a predator’s eye.

11.26 Cathy alerts the team of dressers with a shout of “Models coming!” and they gather around her ready to clothe, drape, pin and tuck (the last two being operative verbs with models in general) and are eager to take direction from Cathy.

11.35 Cathy and Emma sit sown and relax for a while, looking on as though they are above the stress and chaos that everyone else is creating around them….

11.39 …. Then suddenly the models arrive! Go go go! The make-up is kept simple on the girls with hair being ever so lightly tousled allowing the oversized sparkly earrings to shine.

11.43 With Emma feeling poorly, they ponder whether Cathy should go out on behalf of Emma for the briefest of moments, twirling her Emma Cook AW08 tie dye dress and hopefully trick people into thinking she is Emma. No designer’s ego present here and such is the strength of their collaboration that the idea of Cathy doing the catwalk wave in place of Emma could even be considered.

11.44 The casting director arrives and Cathy says it is the first season they have had one, making the line up of girls very strong. He arrives with a bouquet of flowers for Emma.

11.50 I could not help but meander around the rails, lusting after the shoes in particular which took ruffles to a whole new level, adorning the toe of the shoes in materials like clear PVC and also zipper trims to match the zipper trimmed ruffle dress of the same colour.  Fortuantely for my shoe collection, they would go into production, thanks to Topshop.

12.00 The dressing begins and in this efficient system and routine that Emma and Cathy have perfected, it all gets executed so quickly with the photographers getting their chances to take the first look images.

12.07 Line-up of the girls begin and the show is about to start and I go and take my place. Dishevelled showgirl indeed as this season’s Susan trooped out sparkling but never looking overly preened. I’m obliged to love it because my namesake is being used but also because of the animal printed dresses, the crystal encrusted PVC coats in clear rose and smokey grey and also the abundance of iridescent razor pleated dresses that were glinting with hues of lilac and pink.

12.20 The show is over and I couldn’t detect any mishaps. There was a very blatant bum hanging out of a zipper black satin pencil skirt but I thought it might have been deliberate. "It wasn't supposed to be out!" exclaims Cathy. I assured her the bare derriere did the skirt justice. Emma did come out for the smallest of waves, undetectable by most, but behind the scenes, the joint effort is what ultimately matters.

“The way I work with Emma is really unique. With some designers, you might come in at the last stages, not knowing what has happened before. With Emma, because she's my friend and we speak to each ten times a day anyway, all along the way I know exactly what she's thinking.  All the way along I have a chance to give my input. It's kind of the nicest possible way to work on a show. When it goes out, it feels like your own."

With just one slight mishap this time round, Emma and Cathy’s routine is so well honed that come next season, it might just be plain sailing all the way.
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