My Life At Not Vogue, Chapter One
Being sick sucks but it means I’ve been writing a lot of first drafts. One of them that I actually like. So check it out, I think I’ve finally got the first chapter of my novel… Lauren Weisberger, you’re so toast. The gross carby kind that they serve at McDonald’s and everything.
It was almost lunch time at Not Vogue, but of course nobody was eating. Instead it was time for a “run through,” when all the clothes for a shoot were thrown on a combo of plastic mannequins and pliant assistants (both were interchangeable, actually). The whole process took about four hours – piles of Prada coming into the closet, packs of stylists and editors peering at possible looks, and the girls scrambling to fasten, to buckle, to straighten, to please.
“Ava,” growled Marianne, “I need you to follow Valeria’s every step. We’re convinced she’s stealing from the accessories closet after her shoots.”
Valeria was one of the fashion editors, who fondly stared at me with a “what-are-you-wearing” expression every time I walked by the office. I suspected it was because I was a size two and she so wasn’t – once I caught her taking a private pilates class at Equinox just as I was leaving! – but whatever the reason, whenever I passed, her mouth hung open like a bass fish about to get hooked. This was going to be so unfun.
“Sure Marianne,” I grinned, “I’ll keep tabs on Valeira.”
“Excellent,” nodded my editor in chief as she reached for her third soy latte. “Oh and Ava? Don’t smile so wide when I tell you something. You look stupid and I can tell you’re being faux.”
And then she was gone.
This is how accessories get “run through” at Not Vogue:
A shoe or a bag or whatever gets placed on a black breakfast tray – the market pages in Not Vogue have black backgrounds, and Marianne says she can’t “envision” a $700 Swarovski studded Hollywould flat with her own initials seared into the velvet unless it’s on the right background. So some assistant – usually not me because she says I’m “too distracting,” which I hope means pretty but I fear means annoying – brings out the tray and everyone stares and talks about it for like an hour. If someone says the word “very directional,” that’s good. If someone says the words “very Aguilera,” that’s bad. The shoes get dumped into two piles – keep them in the fashion closet, or flog the interns with them and then return them – and by the end of the day, it’s my job to Polaroid the ones we love and then send the rest back to the showrooms.
Except for today, when at the end of our selection process – our six hour selection process, I swear Harvard chooses their freshman class faster than we can pick a Fendi bag – there were three piles of shoes – two big and one small. Great, I think, one pile of shoes to return, one pile of shoes to put on Gemma Ward and Lily Cole for the shoot, and one pile of shoes to steal and get me in massive trouble. Just great.
“Oh gosh, I’ve made such a mess for you! I’ll take care of those,” smiles Valeria like she’s trying to be nice, and visions of stolen Dior totes on eBay flash through my mind. Instead I say, “no no no, don’t be silly, that’s my job!” and push her out of the room. She doesn’t put up a fight – phew.
First I Polaroid eight pairs of shoes – mostly Louboutin, a couple Loeffler Randall, and one pair of Steve Maddens that I swear Marianne’s going to make Gemma wear as a joke – and then I turn to the rest. The “reject” pile has six pairs of shoes, all of them metallic and snakeskin and Gucci – guess only Jessica Stam on the runway can rock those. Or Barbie, if they came in a way smaller size. Next the “I’m going to steal them” pile – a pair of grey Bottega mules; scuffed at the bottom. A pair of Ferragamo flats, sparkly bright red and very Wizard of Oz. And a pair of Miu Miu tapestry Mary Janes that so far I’ve only seen on Gwyneth Paltrow and that could probably be put behind glass at the Met right now and be totally appropriate.
“Oh my gosh,” I tell the shoes, “Thank god I’m saving you from black market eBay hell.”
A half hour later, all the shoes including the renegades have been safely packed in boxes and messengered back to their respective showrooms – I even blow a kiss to the Miu Miu heels as the Prada PR assistant arrives to take them “home.”
There’s one latte left and it’s mine all mine – until. Enter Marianne, Valeria, and their fashion director Alessa They seem shorter than usual and then I realize, they’re all barefoot.
“Nice work, Ava,” coos Marianne unfamiliarly, “I think you’re finally starting to get the hang of this. Can you bring out our shoes?”
“Yes,” grins Marianne, and I swear her lipstick turns to blood. “Ji Baok came by the office to give us all pedicures instead of lunch, and so we left our shoes in here. Mine are the Miu Miu tapestry heels, Valeria’s are the grey Bottega, and Alessa had some flats from Little Marc.”
“Ferragamo,” she corrects, obviously insulted.
“Right,” smiles Marianne, obviously disapproving of flats of any kind.
“Um.” I answer and before I can help it I’ve burst into tears. It all comes out – I’ve returned their shoes along with the samples. At this very moment, Marianne’s Miu Mius are in a van going back to the Prada showroom. And I will be going back to my parents house in Connecticut, jobless and hopeless and 10 pounds less than I was. I brace myself for the screaming.
Instead, Marianne bursts out laughing. Alessa and Valeria follow, and they stand their giggling for about three minutes as I cower in the fashion closet corner and wonder why I didn’t take my dad’s offer to just move to London and find some ugly guy with a handsome title to marry. But I’m not getting screamed at; I’m not getting fired; I’m just getting laughed at by three middle aged harpies in pencil skirts so sharply tailored that they could slice a mango if they ever came in contact with some actual food.
And I realize that this is much, much worse.