My Life At Not Vogue, Chapter Two
Not Vogue came with its own set of vocab, longer than an SAT cheat sheet and just as pretentious. Most of the names were designer derivatives, “cc” for chanel, “cd” for dior and “balence” for balenciaga – especially confusing when you needed to “balance” an outfit – that meant, add a brand that advertised in the magazine to an outfit. So inevitably, once a day, Marianne would growl, “Ava, you need to balance that look with Balence.” Uh huh.But balancing outfits was actually, really, a big deal. When an advertiser bought a page in our magazine, they really bought three pages, the one they paid for and then two others where they expected to see their clothes. Of course, sometimes the “clothes” were heinous so they got swapped. We’d say a dress was from Macy’s when really it was Marc. We’d slice open a KMart creation, re-sew it, spray paint it, put the prettiest model we could find in it, and click, the advertiser was happy.
Of course, there was one time when Marianne was not.
It was after a long day of slicing and dicing – we took apart a Bullseye Mart sheath dress and sewed it back together two sizes smaller. I got creative and added some Chanel (sorry “CC”) boucle trim that Marianne hacked off her latest piece of swag (a mini skirt that she thought wasn’t mini enough). Then I shredded the hem the way I saw Leigh Lezark do to this gown in the bathroom of a Calvin Klein dinner? And took an air-brusher from the beauty closet and sprayed the back with this line of lavender splattered puffy paint? And added a little heart-shaped jewel that I ripped off my Betsey Johnson bag? And seriously I swear Valeria and the other fashion editors looked at it and said, “Ava, you should have gone to Parsons. You’re like the next Proenza but there’s only one of you and you’re way more awkward than they are at parties.” Still it was totally thrilling.
Until Marianne came into the fashion closet – and with her came a certain celebrity whom we’ll call Hudson Kay. “Omigosh I need that dress,” squealed the then-starlet, and she pulled it off the mannequin and slipped it on and Valeria mouthed “it looks SO good” to me and I knew I was in major, major trouble.
The dress was promptly whisked away for Rachel Zoe’s approval and Marianne glowered like Melificent in “Sleeping Beauty” and said “Well Ava, what dress shall we use for our shoot? And tell me, would you rather be on Project Runway than at this job?”
Two minutes later I was on the 2,3 line to the Bullseye Mart in downtown Brooklyn to buy the original dress.
Two days later Hudson Kay showed up on US Weekly’s best dressed list wearing my impromptu creation. A huge bouquet of white roses were promptly delivered to Marianne’s desk in a white lucite bowl by Gucci with a note that read, “Marianne, a fashion genius as always. Can’t wait for the next cover, Hud.”
Five minutes after they arrived, Marianne paged me into her office.
“Ava,” she sighed, “I think you’d better take these roses.”
“Really?” I asked. I mean really? Recognition? Thank you? Flora?
“Really,” she affirmed. “Take them right now and put them in a different vase. You know I can’t abide it when you bring plastic decor into this office.”
“Of course, Marianne,” I answered. “Right away.”