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HOW I BECAME AN ACCIDENTAL DESIGNER

Sixties BOAC air stewardess Hilary Farish reveals how her old Globe-Trotter cases became a source of inspiration for the brand’s new collection.

Back in the Sixties, I was a stewardess for BOAC. Today it has become British Airways, but in those days we were the British airline that flew long-haul to exotic destinations.

All the BOAC crew were given uniforms but had to buy shoes and suitcases, so we all bought Globe-Trotter cases as they were the toughest around.

At that time, the hotels gave away stickers to promote themselves. Most of the crew collected them and stuck them on their cases. But I put mine on the inside of the lid so they wouldn’t get damaged.

After I left my job, I used my cases for years. My children would wonder why I didn’t get rid of my battered old Globe-Trotters but I liked them, and the stickers reminded me of when I was seeing the world for the first time. Just looking at the names of the places – The Hotel Flamingo in Jamaica, the Ginza Tokyu Hotel, the Erawan Hotel in Bangkok – brought back so many memories.

Eventually, I donated them to the British Airways Heritage Centre at Heathrow, where they sat quite happily until, in May 2016, Globe-Trotter’s current designer, Charlotte Seddon, got in touch to say she’d been to the centre and was interested in my cases.

I met Charlotte and explained the history of the sticker-festooned luggage and she said she wanted to use the pattern the colourful stickers made as an inspiration for new linings for the cases. She also used the sticker designs to make charms and decorative details for soft bags and leather pieces such as passport holders.

You can’t possibly use them, they’re too beautiful.

She made me two new cases to replace the ones she’d taken from the Heritage Centre. When my family saw the new cases they said: ‘You can’t possibly use them, they’re too beautiful.’ But the point of Globe-Trotter cases is that they take on real character over time. I’ve already used my new ones during a birthday journey on the Orient Express and on a trip to Tokyo to attend the launch of the new collection.

It was amazing being back in Japan. I remember walking down Ginza in the Sixties with the other stewardesses and everybody staring at us because we were so tall and had different-coloured hair! At Globe-Trotter’s flagship store in Ginza, they displayed one of my old cases alongside one of the new ones they’d made for me, and it was interesting to see people’s reactions. Apart from one being a bit battered, they made a good pair!

This was after I had come to London to see the collection launched at London Fashion Week. Someone explained to me that Globe-Trotter has a history of collaborating with famous designers like Alexander McQueen and Hermès, and that this was the first time it had done a collection with a customer. When I explained that I’d just made my own sticker collages, they said that this was creativity in its own right – something I will now tell my grandchildren.