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July 6, 2011

Stephen Webster

By Spear's

I can’t believe we are facing the prospect of another Icelandic volcanic dust cloud. The coming week sees me flying to Moscow, St Petersburg, London, LA and finally Las Vegas, where I stay put for a bit to exhibit at the largest US jewellery show, Couture.

I CAN’T BELIEVE we are facing the prospect of another Icelandic volcanic dust cloud. The coming week sees me flying to Moscow, St Petersburg, London, LA and finally Las Vegas, where I stay put for a bit to exhibit at the largest US jewellery show, Couture.

The last cloud of dust left a lot of us stranded in one place or another. My family were considerably displaced: wife in Russia, eldest daughter in Venice, youngest in Vienna and myself in Kansas City. Gnasher the poodle and Rosie the tortoise weren’t affected. Before I attempt to start travelling this week I still have a couple of days in the office addressing the jewellery casualties that always happen prior to the Vegas Couture show. At this late date, I just hope there’s nothing terminal.
agenda was judging the Platinum Innovation awards. I’ve been on the jury for nine years but this year I declined due to family commitments. Not letting me get away that easily, they brought all the entrants’ work to me. I found the winners pretty sharpish; no time to muck about.

Next, my wife and I signed on the dotted line to borrow enough money to bail out Greece (which is about the same sum as a three-bed flat in W2) and met with Guy the architect. Equipped with a pencil and fag packet, he redesigned the inside of the newly acquired flat within minutes. Back to the studio for the new men’s collection review and straight into the couture women’s design meeting for the autumn.

Later on, it was quite the celeb crowd at the first night of the Crazy Horse cabaret at Supperclub. Those girls can put on a show. Very clever lighting raised the bar for pole dancing and stripping for a while. Ronnie Wood left early — too much shadow play, I imagine.

Up at 6am: Heathrow, then on to Moscow. The first time I landed in Moscow sixteen years ago I was met off the plane by a man with a gun and a fragrant woman holding a bunch of flowers. They don’t bother with the flowers any longer, just two thick-set men. I realised that after sixteen years I’ve never been here when it’s warm, and boy, it’s warm. I then discovered I didn’t know the Russian word for hot, only cold. Which of course is usually more useful.
ON TO THE official launch of the Stephen Webster concession in TSUM department store — it’s like the Selfridges of Moscow. We’ll be hosting a party, which hordes of glamorous people will attend. I say that, because they always do.

Then it’s a train travelling day. I love the train. This is a brand-new, high-speed link between Moscow and St Petersburg, my wife’s home town. It’s all very Dr Zhivago, even to the point that we are going to spend the whole journey in the bistro carriage. There is a note saying ‘No games or falling asleep at the tables’, which is a shame as I was thinking of a round of golf and 40 winks.

In St Petersburg, we’re the VIP guests at Aurora fashion week. At some point there will be work shown by students from art schools across the country entitled ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’, all inspired by the SW collection of the same name launched last year. There’s a substantial cash prize.

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On the plane back to London we coincidentally sit in the same row as our friend Alexander, the minister of geology for the Russian Federation. A friend of Mr Abramovich, Alexander was flying to London for the Champions League final. My wife moves over to sit to next Alexander for the duration of the flight, and after an hour or so I’m asked if I’d like to go fishing on Lake Baikal in two weeks’ time. Baikal, in central Siberia, is the deepest lake on earth. What could I say? A chance to fish in one of the remotest places on earth with the very influential and obviously very social Alexander the minerals minister… I’m making a space in my diary.

We land at 5pm and head to our seaside house on the Kent coast, St Margaret’s at Cliffe. I was born in Kent and it has always been a special place to me. There’s a brilliant mix to the county: the garden of England’s countryside and the true grit of the faded seaside resort towns for day-tripping Londoners such as Margate, Broadstairs and Whitstable. Every town carries plaques to Dickens. Our house, perched on the top of the white cliffs, is overlooked only by the French in Calais. Known as ‘Hell fire’ corner during the Second World War due to the mass bombing, our place is and was no stranger to action.
I’M BACK AT T5, my spiritual home, a day later. I’d like to know if there’s any claim to a piece of the real estate after spending so much time here — a bit like squatters’ rights.

The next stop is LA for a dinner, and then on to Vegas and our biggest US show. This marks exactly twelve years since I showed for the first time in the US as SW — I know that because my youngest daughter was born right in the middle of that show (not literally — my wife Assia was in Queen Mary’s Paddington and I was in Vegas). It was a tough call at the time, but as a couple Assia and I decided that the show must go on, even if it was two very different shows on two continents.

So happy birthday to Nika, and fingers crossed for a good show for us.

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