The Saturday ritual was virtually always the same: throw open the upstairs bedroom window; tip forward swivelling neck and shoulder to the right while inhaling deeply the Scottish salty air and looking out over the sea to Arran – no matter what the weather. It set up Francesca for the madness that was Saturday appointments in her bridal shop under the apartment. Retreating inward to sip a very quick double espresso Francesca would then have a final mirror check before descending the stairs to the luxury of the shop beneath. She had made a deliberate decision to have only high end products when she first opened twenty five years ago and the dresses were displayed to perfection against a background of pistachio and gold walls and thick carpets. There were of course the obligatory well upholstered high backed chairs for attendant relatives to relax on while this or that decision was made by the customer behind the changing room curtain but usually the dresses were the stars and it was no coincidence that successful brides were encouraged to display their favourite wedding photo for a month in the window of Silk and Tiaras to both highlight their success and Francesca’s at making the perfect match. Saturdays were by appointment only unlike the rest of the week but girls seemed only too keen to book an hour’s slot in order to get the undivided attention of Miss Francesca because, although she was famously unmarried, her eye for detail was said to be unparalleled. No bride was ever unhappy with the final choice, even although many a parent might have balked at the price.
The appointments book had the usual four bookings for the day. Ostensibly each appointment was an hour long but there was a half hour in-between each one to ensure that no blushing bride ever met another and somehow felt cheated out of her experience of being the most important person in the room.
Miss Francesca opened the door to greet the first appointment of the day and wondered which of the sample dresses would suit this waif-like, un-made-up creature standing with arm outstretched and a slightly nervous demeanour given away by the nibbling of her bottom lip.
“Miss Francesca, I’m so pleased to finally have the chance to see you and your fabulous dresses up close. I’m an eight but I know you’ll have worked that out already as your reputation precedes you.”