My Life At Not Vogue, Chapter Three
My Life At Not Vogue, Chapter Three
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – it was Fashion Week at Not Vogue and I was on call more than Patrick Dempsey on Grey’s Anatomy. And Monday of Fashion Week is the worst because it’s when the Big Kids come out to play. I mean, if Fashion Week is the Olympics of hemlines, than Monday is seriously like figure skating, gymnastics, snowboarding, diving, and whatever other sport people actually care about, all at once. Like luge, I think people care about luge.
Anyway, it was Monday and I was running on adrenaline, plus these giant Miu Miu wedge heels Valeria slipped me from the fashion closet. Turns out there was a perk to making sure she didn’t steal anything – I could let it slide once in a while, as long as she also swiped stuff for me.
I was sent to “scout out” The Biggest Show (use your imagination) for Marianne. “Scout out” is more fashion vocab that vaguely means “make sure nobody’s in my seat and make sure I’m going to arrive exactly ten minutes before the show begins and make sure those whom I don’t like are sitting far away from me and make sure you’re thisclose to killing yourself.”
Of course, one of the cool things about working for Not Vogue is that you get escorted backstage pretty quickly. I got to cut in front of Rachel Feinstein and Lou Douillon and ended up next to Daria, which was sort of awesome (Daria!) and sort of awful (I’m four inches shorter than you!).
The PR boy backstage was Matthieu and he carefully took my hand the way that most moms do on the first day of kindergarten. Not my mom, but most. And he led me to Marianne’s seat – left side, front row, center. “Sofia Coppola next to her, and directly across from her – across the runway – is Gisele.”
“Oh no,” I plead, “You can’t have her staring at Gisele. She called out of a cover shoot once at the last minute to shoot a Victoria’s Secret commercial. She’s dead to us. Dead!”
I hear the words coming out of my mouth and they sound like toddler poop, but I can’t help it and Matthieu can’t help but smile at me in a humoring, sort of sad way. “No problem,” he nods, “We’ll switch her with Nicole Kidman… now, the show won’t start for another hour, which I assume is when Marianne will be here?”
“Excellent,” says Matthieu, obviously relieved. “The models ordered their special Mac and Cheese, but uh, there’s plenty left if you want some.”
“Cool.” I smile, and two seconds later I’m backstage wolfing down the most insanely cheesy yumminess I’ve had in months.
“Good girl,” I hear from behind, and I look up, and it’s The Big Designer, and I freak, and he laughs a little nervously. “No no, don’t stress,” he says, “I can’t believe one of Marianne’s girls is actually eating. I’m thrilled for it. You’d better finish it quick because she’s on her way.” And he winks at me and runs back to swathing a then-pregnant Karen Elson in some sort of gauzy bikini, and I take my last gulp.
You might be wondering what the clothes look like, but backstage at TBS, you can’t really see them – there are all these curtains that go up to the entire ceiling and divide the place into a twelve-ring circus of hair, makeup, food, booze, cigarettes, napping models, nervous assistants, and the occasional editor attempting to cut her way through it all.
“Hello Ava,” she grins, like a Cheshire with a buzz saw. “I see you’ve found some time to relax. How wonderful that somebody’s getting some rest this Fashion Week, because Lord knows I haven’t slept in five days.”
“Well Marianne,” I grin, “Jess Stam is snoozing over there on a pile of bags named after her. I’m sure they can find you another cot if you want to join her.”
Marianne arches an eyebrow – a tough accomplishment, considering the Botox – and peers at me with a sort of curious grin.
“Was that wit?” She asks. “That was rather good, Ava. You must have had a bite of the Mac and Cheese.”
Oh. My. God.
“Don’t worry about it,” she laughs, “but somebody should have told you that the food back here is always a little… shall we say, special… sort of like the brownies Mick and I would eat at Stones parties in the ‘70s.”
Oh. My. God. Take Two. Marianne and Mick?! Spiked Mac and Cheese?
“Stop frowning like that,” Marianne admonished. “You look like you’ve just lost a CFDA award. Now don’t worry, the Mac and Cheese won’t kick in for a few hours.”
Oh. My. God. Take Three.
“Uh, Marianne,” I stammer, “You’re seated by Sophia, and across from Nicole Kidman. The show’s actually going to start on time…”
“Yes yes, good good. Unfortunately Anna brought Bee and Carine brought Julia, so they’ve stripped me of an extra seat for an overdressed ingénue, which would have been you. So. You’ll have to stand back here with the models during the show. All right?”
All right? Is she kidding? Amazing!
“Let me get Matthieu to escort you to your seat,” I say, and Marianne nods, takes Matthieu by the arm, and glides out front.
“I can’t believe the show is starting on time,” grins Daria, and the models line up, resplendent, and the music starts, raucous, and out goes Karen and out goes Irina and out goes Stam and wow. And suddenly, screaming.
“But you have to let me in,” shrieks a girl behind me, “you don’t understand, you have to!” I whirl around and look at this crying waif, and realize she has the most photographed face on the planet right now – she’s Famous Girl, the one from the movies (and the tabloids), and the guards won’t let her past.
“I’m sorry Miss,” they say, “but we can’t let anybody go out there right now; the show is in progress.”
“Well how was I supposed to know it would start on time this year?!” And she stomps her stilettos like I did when I was five and my mom wouldn’t buy me a Gucci bag to carry my Cabbage Patch Kid.
Fortunately, as someone who still throws tantrums on a regular basis, at least to the various guys I’m dating and sometimes to Sophia, I know how to handle this situation. “It’s okay,” I say to Famous Girl. “Really, it’s okay. Take some breaths. The after party is a better place to get photographed anyway. You won’t be sitting in a chair. You’ll get to choose your poses. Really, don’t worry, you’ll be even cooler if you only hit the after party. Just stop screaming and breathe with me, okay?”
Famous Girl stares at me like I’m insane. But what’s really insane is she stops crying and she sits down, on the rug, under the models, in her giant couture dress, and pats the floor for me to join her.
“Thanks,” says Famous Girl, and I realize she’s covered in freckles and I sort of love it. “I’m sorry, Fashion Week is just… it’s just hell, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I grin, “It is.”
“I’m Famous Girl,” she says, and sticks out her hand.
“I’m… I’m…” and before I can say Ava, my head goes black and I pass out on Famous Girl’s $10,000 hand-stitched silk bodice. The Mac and Cheese has finally kicked in.
When I wake up, it’s in Marianne’s limo after the show, and much to my surprise, she’s sitting next to me, holding a cup of Starbucks out to me like Benadryl.
“It’s alright, Ava,” she coos. “Drink this espresso and it will all be fine. It’s not your fault nobody told you about the Mac and Cheese. I really thought Irina would have mentioned it. You’re not in trouble.”
“I’m not?” I gasp.
“Of course not,” grins Marianne, cat-like again, “though perhaps this will teach you, once and for all, to stay far away from carbohydrates.”