Last year, I was hoping to be in town for the opening of the first Orla Kiely store in New York, but missed it by a matter of days. So this time around, 5 Mercer Street was one of the first things I pencilled into my planning, but it was only on the last of my five days in New York that I managed to get there.
Turns out, my timing couldn’t have been better, because guess who was rearranging the handbag display as I walked in? None other than Orla Kiely herself!
My heart started to pound and I walked around the store on shaky knees, pretending to look at things, but actually talking myself out of my first instinct which was to act as if this were all perfectly normal. I mean for frick’s sake! When was this opportunity going to present itself again?
So I strolled up to my long-time print heroine and said hello and asked her whether she minded at all that I had called my stem print design Orla. She said she didn’t mind, and then her husband Dermott Rowan joined us, and it turned out that he had studied in Cape Town, AND (get this) they had both even been to my old home town, Pietermaritzburg. Un be flipping lievable.
I gave them a flyer for my shop, and an invitation to pop in next time they’re in Cape Town, and then went large, marking this astonishing occasion by splashing out on a most gorgeous green punched leather Orla Kiely purse that will remind me of my brush with pattern royalty for ever and ever amen.
Sigh. My knees are still wobbly.
PS: Social media savvy I may be, but do you know it did not once occur to me to request a snapshot with Orla Kiely? I know. Kicking myself to some degree, but at the same time, it’s kind of nice to just have the tale (and the purse) as the trophy.