Bestowing the honour of producing Milieu’s 5th Anniversary shoot on me, lovely Pam Pierce, our editor-in-chief, wanted to focus on fabrics and trimmings, but wanted it all to have the air of a party, a celebration! And celebrate we did!


Pam and I started to brainstorm about ideas for a setting for the party, and we both arrived at the idea of a classic backdrop of a Gustavian Swedish interior. We decided on a lovely autumnal palate of browns and rusts and golds. I trawled many wonderful fabric and trimmings houses and came away with a plethora of gorgeous goods. 


Armed with books, references and ideas and samples, I met with the wonderful Tabby Riley, scenic painter extraordinary, and we spent a couple of days sketching, choosing colours, working out a set that would fit into our studio, accommodate various scenarios, and be within budget!


Tabby came up with various painted samples of panelling, and after a lot of to and fro we had our plan. It was to be a canvas 16 feet wide and 9 feet high. She had to hire a studio in which to paint it, and had also to paint a canvas floor the same width and 8 feet deep. A lot of work! And this was during the great summer heatwave.


In the meantime I was sketching ideas and trawling antique shops for lovely Swedish and French pieces. Once Pam had approved our ideas it was time to meet with the amazing Melanie Williams, sewing genius, to work out chair covers, bed canopy, bolsters, sofa slip covers, ball masks, party hats, and a few articles of clothing. She made many of the items in her workshop, but once we got the canvas up to the studio, and all the antiques arrived, she stitched pieces in situ, while our vastly experienced set builder, Jonathan Self, worked out how to hang the canvas straight and steady, put down the canvas floor, hang the chandelier, the bed canopy and lots of other vital items.


All this was finally prepared for the arrival of Simon Brown, photographer, with his assistant and son Milo Brown. For two days we took pictures, changed sets and built the story for the pages of the magazine.


No sooner done than it all comes apart again for everything to be shipped back to the dealers, studio cleared, and for the talented art director James Slate to turn our pictures into a cohesive piece of editorial.