It’s a strange feeling watching someone who’s suggested to be you on-screen. Even complete stranger when the individual is based on the young you that you barely acknowledge any more.
I was mesmerized as I sat among my local Somerset audience and observed exactly what might have been the older me had I remained running among London s biggest Public Relations firms.
There they were, Patsy and Edina, now in their 60s, permanently intoxicated and chain-smoking their method around the South of France. It’s no secret that my when bigger- than-life behavior influenced the Ab Fab character Edina.
Jennifer Saunders was a pal and customer in the Eighties. She and her comedy partner Dawn French (whose ex-husband, Lenny Henry, I likewise did Public Relations for) would concern my celebrations and hang out at my house.
We even joined forces on vacation one year: Jennifer, her comedian partner Adrian Ade Edmondson and children ended up at the very same Seychelles hotel.
In her recent autobiography, Jennifer acknowledges how she made use of aspects of my character for Edina. Lynne was into everything that was brand-new: clothes, music, clubs, she writes. She was a whirlwind of Zeitgeist.
It’s true. I actually was at the epicenter of London life then. And it was definitely fantastic.
My firm Lynne Franks Public Relations, which I began aged 21 from my cooking area table, organized the catwalk shows for the first-ever London Fashion Week in 1984 in addition to representing a number of the nation’s top designers (Katharine Hamnett, Jasper Conran) and the buzziest clothes stores consisting of Edina s preferred store, Harvey Nicks.
The brand-new film has cameos galore, consisting of Jerry Hall, Alexa Chung, Jean Paul Gaultier and obviously Kate Moss, but I’m uncertain anything can match the excess and enjoyable of the initial party years.
The Eighties were a boom time for London fashion. Supermodels Linda, Naomi and Christy strolled the catwalk. I made certain my customers show was full of spectacle and theatre.
When I helped arrange 1985’s Fashion Aid for Africa, with Bob Geldof and rock promoter Harvey Goldsmith, I appeared onstage in a Katharine Hamnett slogan T-shirt, along with trapeze artists, Japanese dancers, yellow-robed Buddhist monks and a Margaret Thatcher lookalike.
A few years earlier, I caught a clip of my 35-year-old self-having a good time dancing at the event, evaluated as part of a V&An exhibit, Streetstyle. It truly was the ultimate Ab Fab moment.
Behind the scenes, it was tiring and often hysterically funny. My PA was the spitting image of Bubble, Edina s flaky blonde PA played by Jane Horrocks, though in reality she was extremely efficient.
I had among the earliest clunky mobiles, on which I would speak continuously in the back of my chauffeur-driven Jag and continue utilizing as I walked through the office, even if individuals I was speaking with were just ahead of me.
And, yes, everyone partied a lot back then. At the end of each year we had a Lynne Franks Christmas do. Among these was a White Party based on designer Rifat Ozbek s white and silver collection.
Ade and Lenny DJ-ed and I got so intoxicated I wound up in the loos sobbing about nothing in specific. I’ll admit I was often in awe of my celeb clients, and I occasionally drank a little too much simply to relax my nerves.
In 1989, I invited Jennifer and Dawn to provide an award at the first-ever British Fashion Awards. It was a riotous evening. I suspect it went on to motivate the episode of Ab Fab where Edina places on a catwalk show just to have a number of celebs leave. She’s particularly distressed when Princess Anne shows up instead of Princess Diana.
Today, I really can’t recall if I saw Jennifer and Dawn chuckling away backstage with Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin at the real awards, or if it was a scene from the TELEVISION show!
Ab Fab began as a comedy sketch for Dawn and Jennifer s TELEVISION show, French and Saunders.
At the time I was obsessed with acid house music - I used a primary-colored tracksuit and cap and had really brief orange hair - despite being 40. The ladies produced a rave character who wouldn’t grow up based on me, which I completely should have.
She was an ex-hippie mother with an unfortunate, straight daughter, who went on to end up being the notorious Saffy.
I do know that the Saffy relationship wasn’t based upon me and my child Jessica, however on Dawn’s visit to the studios of fashion label Ghost.
It existed she saw flamboyant designer Tanya Sarne’s volatile relationship with her daughter end in a screaming match. Jennifer wasn’t that interested in style when I met her, but she got my/Edina s look spot on.
Soon after satisfying me, she made friends with a number of designers and noticed that when they provided clothes samples, they were typically a tiny size 10. As a result, while Edina is always wearing the newest thing, it never rather fits.
The appearance is amazing, over-the-top and directional, but terribly little. I’m embarrassed to admit it now, however I had my minutes of squeezing into unsuitable outfits, specifically during London Fashion Week when I wished to support my designer customers.
Paradoxically, the style world ended up adoring Absolutely Fabulous. I keep in mind being invited to supper by the editor of Vogue to find a gaggle of fashionistas huddled around a TELEVISION set giggling at the brand-new comedy.
It was rather strange paying attention to them laugh at the protagonist - allegedly based upon me - when I was sitting only yards away.
But Jennifer s satire has actually always been finished with terrific fondness. Designer Christian Lacroix appeared in one episode and permitted Edina to fall at his feet and then strolled away with her still attached.
And for the brand-new film, designer Giles Deacon, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney marked time to produce attire for Edina to use.
One of my greatest remorse’s is rejecting a cameo in an early episode - I was over-sensitive about all of it in those days.
Now, 24 years after the original series, I can acknowledge just how many details mirror my own life. It was practically like Jennifer might read my mind.
I presume my dear pal Ruby Wax, who ended up as the Ab Fab script editor, was another mole, although she’s constantly denied it. Back in the early Nineties, Jennifer was plainly plugged into the Lynne Zeitgeist, like the episode when Edina signs up with Menopause Anonymous just as I was going through my own menopause.
Or when she wished to call her oldest granddaughter Lola, which was the name of my eldest grandchild, born around the same time.
My full-grown children still get embarrassed when they view scenes that could have come from our family history.
The kitchen in our West London house resembled Edina s. And I was always on a diet. My mother was understood making sardonic remarks in the background, just like the June Whitfield character.
However, it was my disapproving child Josh, now a comedian himself, who was more like straight-laced Saffy, while my child Jessica was more of the wild child socializing with me.
Possibly the only thing that I still acknowledged when I saw the film is Edina s love of the spiritual. In the movie, she tries the most recent cult of mindfulness - or mindlessness as she calls it - and has a blue Buddha.
Jennifer loves parodying my efforts to discover a calmer, much healthier life - going on New Age retreats, trying brand-new treatments like colonic watering and, yes, hugging trees.
I was a popular Buddhist - in the TV series Edina chants enthusiastically for parking spaces. Guilty as charged, I fear. (But it worked!).
Repeating my Buddhist chant of Nam-Myo-Ho-Renge-Kyo with designs, hairdressers and designers at the launch of London Fashion Week might not have actually been conventional work behavior, but it produced an atmosphere of positivity. The tents would practically take off with the effective vibrations coming out of them.
I’m sure I didn’t invent Edina’s catchphrase; I’m chanting as I speak. However, I later on heard it was embraced by American Buddhists.
In my defense, I’d say I was simply ahead of the pattern. These days, everyone practices meditation.
I never ever had a buddy like Patsy, however numerous deep friendships were formed that continue to this day. Sadly, my two closest good friends, also PRs, died from cancer and I lost many individuals I understood to Aids when the horrible disease swept the fashion business, in the late Eighties.
The deaths of many close friends made me take a fresh appearance at my life. I understood if I didn’t modification, I would ruin myself on both a physical and spiritual level.
Working so difficult with a young household did take its toll on my energy and my marriage, and after being convinced to sell my Public Relations firm by my spouse and business partner Paul Howie in 1992, I collapsed with exhaustion.