My Life At Not Vogue, Chapter Four
In the spring came Karl, and chaos after that.
Valeria had her fashion assistants remove everything in the closets that wasn’t black or white, and insisted on spraying all the shoes with Pam cooking spray “to make them glisten.” Alessa had her entire beauty team drinking only liquid celery, just like the Lagerfeld Diet instructs. And Marianne didn’t really seem to care.
“Ava,” she bellowed in the morning, “what are my appointments today?” She was perched in her chair in black Chanel yoga pants, a threadbare cashmere sweater, and some sort of head wrap from Hermes. At first it was disarming – Marianne? Yoga pants? – and then I realized – she was trying so hard to look so easy. All of a sudden, I was very, very afraid.
This was how it was supposed to go: I would greet Karl at the door, bring him to Marianne’s office, and they would peruse his upcoming collection. Then the door would close, and Marianne would “secretly” counsel Karl on what to do with his latest ad campaign. Uma Thurman had Janine Garafolo and Tom Ford had Carine, and Marianne definitely had Karl in the palm of her bony little hands.
When Karl arrived at the office, everybody stood from their desks in salute. It was as if Prince William had walked into a rugby stadium, except there was no beer, and that sucked.
“Hello, Mr. Lag-“ I began, but I couldn’t finish. Instead, Karl reached up and pinched my cheek, great-uncle style. His hands were wrapped in Madonna gloves from the Immaculate period. His smile was flickering, and wicked. And then he said, “Hello. You are so pretty. You look just like a helium baby.”
And with that, the whole office was silent.
“Karl!” called Marianne from her office; her voice unexpectedly shrill. “Karl come in and see me this minute!”
Marianne’s office poofs with racks of clothes, each slung on a hanger and each waiting for a model to slink into them and parade around the office like a Fashion Week sequel that’s so VIP, even Mischa couldn’t get in. Personally, I think the clothes are a little outrageous, but maybe they look worse on the hanger than they will on the model.
The model. Oh crap, the model!
“The model?” asks Marianne expectantly. “Ava, where is the model?”
Of course there was no model – Daria was shooting another Lancome ad, Lily was taking her A-Levels, Irina had run away with Pete and Kate (again!), Gemma was back in Australia, Freja was on exclusive contract with The Gap, and at least according to Marianne, those were the only girls Karl could have. So instead he had nothing.
“Ava?” Marianne asked again, and this time her brow arched a little, her signal for panic.
“Ava!” repeated Karl, and again, that wicked grin. “Ava is the model.”
Oh no, I winced.
“Oh no,” Marianne repeated, “absolutely not.”
Fifteen minutes later, I was laced up in a skull-covered corset and draped in a stonewashed denim ball gown, and pushing through the fashion closet with Karl like a couture parade float. And that was the beginning of the end at Not Vogue.
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