Oct 24, 2015

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Sixteen : David Hicks and Lady Pamela Mountbatten (and me, me, me)

Here I am. Well, this is not exactly me but a very nice  (I am certain) OPEL enthusiast speaking German.  

I arrived in Arizona.  I drove my NEW RED OPEL Kadett fastback (this, was my second Opel, and it had black seatcovers and no air conditioning) from San Francisco (who needed air conditioning in San Francisco?) to Phoenix (swet).  Goldwater's paid for all the moving and relocating of me expenses. I arrived at a motel they had arranged near the Park Central Mall (the Executive Offices of Goldwaters).  I was given a week to find a home and lots of per diem to find my way around Phoenix nightlife.  Good God (help me), this place was not exactly Gay San Francisco.  Where was the ¨make love and not war¨ crowd? Who knew?  Not me...worse yet, the bars closed at midnight or one and it often was 100+ degrees when you stepped outside!  Inferno!

The very next day I started looking for an apartment to rent on a monthly basis until I found something more like home.  I was told to stay on the ¨streets¨ and not go over to the ¨avenues¨ (avenues were not considered very chic neighborhoods).


Camelback Mountain 2.jpg
Camelback Mountain - soon I would live directly behind it!
¨Rent above Camelback Road¨ which was the main connecting street that takes one from Phoenix to Scottsdale.   I did.  I rented a one bedroom apartment in a swinging singles (young, like me, mostly) modern/nice/big pool party building by Camelback Road on the edge of Scottsdale.  I never met one person other than the manager the almost-a-year I lived there...they weren't my type.  Sniff, sniff (forced smile)...besides, I was a very fashionable buyer and I traveled lots!

Goldwaters had a lovely branch store at Scottsdale Fashion Square where we served customers such as ´Kitty¨ from ¨Gunsmoke¨ and Joseph Stalins daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-15931683 who was married to architect William Wesley Peters.  There were also dozens and dozens of even more notable everyones con dinero who shopped Goldwater's.  Goldwater's Arizona - we were a ¨carriage trade¨  upscale store and quite a glamourous bunch of retail coconuts...yes, we were*. 

Goldwaters Scottsdale (Katchina dancers dancing on the facade)
*Much later a salesman informed me that we, Associated Dry Goods employees, were ,most often ¨white anglos¨ and considered to be quite the ¨specially selected¨. sniff/sniff, staff in a retail buying world made up mostly of Jewish merchants...oy vey, I didn't know.  

Amanda ¨Miss Kitty¨ Blake
Joseph Stalin with daughter Svetlana, 1935.jpg
Lana Peters and her dad

I must tell this story.  I'll tell it right now.  After a year of buying all the Smallwares (Stationery, Notions, Luggage, Greeting Cards etc) at Goldwaters I was promoted (thanks to great sales and profits and our then President, John Rupel) to Buyer of all the Home Furnishings Soft Lines ( Sheets, Bath Shop, Table Top, Bedding, Design Studio and Decorative Fabrics)...it was a very large volumn area in the store and I loved developing the volumn by introducting lots of  * designer *  fashions in linens/etc.  We, high-end specialty type store that we were, also had extra fine Wamsutta linens and a Carlin Shop.

On one of my Market/Buying trips in New York I was invited by the J.P. Stevens company to meet the very famous, almost the most famous, British designer David Hicks.  David Hicks had designed a marvelous and colorful group of sheets and towels and he was going to introduce them by visiting a few (very/very *suitable*) stores who would be featuring David Hicks designs for J.P. Stevens...there was a huge publicity campaign nationally and lots advertising money for four color.

David Hicks wife would be accompaning him for the personal visits/U.S. tour and three stores in the United States were selected.  Goldwaters of Arizona would become one of them (they wanted to see the Grand Canyon and there we were)!

The wife of David Hicks - Lady Pamela Mountbatten
(cousin of Queen Elizabeth II)

Lady Pamela Carmen Louise Hicks (née Mountbatten; born 19 April 1929) is a British aristocrat. She is the younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma by his wife, Edwina Mountbatten. Through her father, Lady Pamela is a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and a great niece of the last Tsarina of Russia,Alexandra Feodorovna. As of May 2013, Lady Pamela is 687th in line for the throne.


GULP,  the Queens cousin is coming!

My team of interior decorators were nicely talented people who specialized in  doing draperies, custom bedspreads and some floor coverings for our clients.  Not one of them (three in-house designers and my two assistant buyers) had done anything like the room vinettes that we must plan/execute for our special David Hicks at Goldwater's Scottsdale opening!  We would be using ALL David Hicks fabrics of course and J.P. Stevens sent me large quantities of every design/color to work with....all gratis.  

There was more: All the newspaper full page ads in the Arizona Republic and National Magazines...100% paid by J.P. Stevens.  The  little ¨rooms for vinettes¨ (4) were brand new and ready to be ¨designed¨ in the decorative fabric department after the recent remodel of our Scottsdale store.   Plus, the Decorative Department was directly accross the main aisle from the sheets and bath shop!

However, there was NO promotional  Goldwaters budget for either the room setting samples or the gala Champagne Party! 

After lots of angling and haggling our team finally got Redmond Largay (a new President at Goldwaters and self-isolating ass) to agree.  He was my merchandise manager. I reported directly to him, yet, he rarely collaborated with me even with my sales/stock buying plans.  

We agreed. Our group would make ALL the custom merchandise for room settings and attach retail prices to each item...no samples, no free-bees, no display budget.  All custom designs in the vinettes would come out of my open-to-buy and be added to my business plans of the various departments represented in the sample rooms.  

Catherine Westie, Advertising Director and Fashion Coordinator would host the Cocktail party (Catherine *got it*) . 

Mr. Redmond-unavailable always, didn't know much/anything about David Hicks or the Home Furnishings Soft Lines area or all the publicity and excitement we would generate.  By being with Marshall Fields and Bloomingdales, Goldwaters was included with/featured  three fashion U.S. stores...excellent publicity! We even enhanced our position with the TRADE newspaper editorials.  El Largay  finally *got it* after making our lives misersable for weeks (don't tell anyone but I proceeded without him before he said yes because J.P. Stevens had ¨guaranteed¨ the sales no less). 


   The David Hicks room settings turned out beautifully (naturally).  They were beyond great and well-received by all ¨specially invited¨ present. David Hicks and the J.P. Stevens people made many statements of praise to the press and to me and my staff.  I was included in many of the photographs with store top tier management and David Hicks.  Redmond strutted his stuff. The event was a drop-dead success with every well-known person in Arizona attending.  The waiters were spiffy, the (good) champagne endless the hors d´oeuvres the finest.


I was asked to have my photograph taken with Lady Pamela Mountbatten.  We stood together, we chatted a bit, we posed and my right cheek started twitching.  It twitched uncontrolably..the photographer, re-positioned us for the photograph, relax/etc, my face kept twitching, the photographer kept trying...Lady Pamela looked at me TWITCHING  and then quietly whispered to me ¨go drink some of the champagne¨

¨You will be fine¨

I did.

I was.

It never happened again (yet).

to be continued