Saturday, November 28, 2009
I've just arrived home from one of the most bizarre days I've ever experienced. Before I recount the episodes leading up to today's events (what actually happened today will follow tomorrow in Chapter two), please bear in mind the following things:
1. I am not, nor do I profess to be a gossip writer.
2. I have no ill will towards Pearl Going, or any of the other parties involved.
3. Some things just need to be written about.
With all that in mind, let's begin. Go get yourself a cup of tea, this is a very long read.
I received an email about four weeks ago from a girl named Aimee Ryan. She asked for my phone number and said she had some very exciting news for me. I don't often receive emails of that nature. Thinking perhaps I was due for a big pay cheque, I immediately wrote back with my phone number. I waited about three minutes, didn't hear anything, then decided to take matters into my own hands. First, I Facebook stalked her. The search was inconclusive. I found one Aimee Ryan in New Zealand, but she didn't share any friends with me. This confused me. Anybody from New Zealand emailing me on my isaaclikes.com address is generally somebody I have at least one friend in common with on Facebook. I went back to the email, found a phone number in the signature, and called it.
The phone was answered by Pearl Going.
Pearl proceeded to tell me Aimee's exciting news - stressing that it was Aimee's news to tell and that she should let Aimee be the bearer but since I was so insistent she'd just do it herself. An award was in the pipeline. Something to do with helping New Zealand fashion designers to grow their businesses overseas. Pearl and Aimee were interested in me helping to judge the award for them - anonymously or named - that would be my decision. Several designers' names were thrown around, including Margi Robertson from Nom*D. Several sponsors' names were also mentioned, including FedEx. I said I'd have a think about it, and hung up the phone.
I had heard nothing about Pearl Going at that point, besides the fact that Rachel Glucina had written about her being the new it-girl.
I called a few industry go-to people to ask what they knew about the award. One had heard of it but was unsure if it was actually going ahead. Another said they would watch out if they were me - there was something dodgy about the whole business. Apparently a lot of companies' names had been thrown around as sponsoring the award but when the companies were asked, they knew nothing. So I Googled the award. Nothing appeared. I Googled Pearl and Aimee's company. Nothing appeared. I Googled Pearl Going. I found this. Alarm bells rang. I did a little more digging - I genuinely wanted to know if the whole thing was real or not, and by this stage I was just plain intrigued. I went on the New Zealand companies registry and searched for Pearl Going. She was linked with three companies, including A P Group Holdings Ltd, the company in Aimee Ryan's email signature.
Here's where things got a little odd.
When you register a company, you have to decide on a certain amount of shares to be allotted to it. Most people choose 100 shares - it's an easy number and one share can equal one per cent of the company. A P Group Holdings Ltd has a grand (and I really do mean grand) total of 11,610,000 shares. The intrigue grew.
It also seemed strange that a company that was organising an event planned for 28 November (today), had only been registered on 28 August.
The next day I had a very lengthy phone conversation with Aimee Ryan about the award. She basically said the exact same things that Pearl had already told me, but also talked a lot about Pearl and what a fantastic boss she was. After I got off the phone I rang a friend who told me that Aimee and Pearl had been in contact with him, and that he had a feeling that Aimee Ryan and Pearl Going were the same person. That just about blew my mind.
I told Aimee I'd like to meet Pearl, so she arranged a coffee between me and her. I went along with an open mind, not knowing what to expect and certainly not planning on blogging about any of it. When I met Pearl, I felt safe in the fact that the voices were different enough for me to believe that Pearl and Aimee were two different people.
I can imagine that this all sounds fairly ridiculous, but bear with me.
Pearl told me about the award she was organising, and also about a consumer fashion event planned for March, which would follow a similar format to the Melbourne Fashion Festival. It all sounded very similar to the in-season event that (NZ Fashion Week owners) the Stewarts were planning, but she assured me that her event had been organised first.
She also asked what I thought about the award and who would benefit the most from winning it. I gave her my thoughts, and that was that. I called more people and heard a whole bunch of stories that I won't go into here, but which painted Pearl in a less than favourable light. A lot of it sounded like hearsay, some of it sounded plausible, but most of it was so ridiculous and far fetched that I couldn't imagine it to be true.
I didn't hear anything from Aimee or Pearl again until one week ago when I received an email inviting me to the FedEx Global Fashion Access Award on Waiheke Island. Due to the things people had said to me, I had pretty much decided I didn't want to be involved, so I didn't RSVP.
But then on Thursday I received a phone call from Aimee asking if I would be there. I would swear with 98% certainty that the voice was Pearl Going's. I asked who else would be there, and she gave me a list of names including several prominent fashion designers. I called a few of them up, and they all assured me that they were going, that they too had heard a few dodgy things, but that it would be an adventure. Everybody seemed just as intrigued as I was.
So I said I would go. I made sure to ask if Aimee herself would be there at the event with Pearl. The answer started those alarm bells ringing again. Aimee told me a story about how she'd just broken her ankle and how the cast had been set incorrectly by a medical student. Her toes were apparently going purple and she would most probably be in hospital.
I was to be at the ferry building at 10:45 on Saturday morning.
To be continued.