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.
I was in the fabulously boring Palm Beach for Thanksgiving, leaving me plenty of time to obsess about how Jenny is furious at me, how it so wasn’t worth it to sleep with her boyfriend (okay, yes, fine, I’m over it!) and also, what I want for Christmas…
1. The Louis Vuitton bellboy wallet, because it has a little Tintin cartoon, and he was my favorite cartoon growing up!
2. An old school typewriter to make my writing feel more legit
Hard Candy’s entire vintage nailpolish collection so I can relive Clueless!
And for Jenny to forgive me!
C’mon Jenny, pleeeease?!
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.”
So just in case you didn’t know who Tinsley Mortimer was before, you probably do now, thanks to this huuuuge New York Post article about the socialite. But maybe the weirdest part of the whole story is this quote:
“The faker you seem in Japan, the hotter you are,” says Mortimer’s good friend, Heatherette designer Richie Rich. “The perfect hair, the perfect tan, the perfect marriage – everything.”
Wait, what? Does that mean Tinsley’s hair, skin tone, and longterm relationship are totally made up? Please tell me no. Please tell me this quote was taken completely out of context and slapped somehow in a newspaper.
I mean first of all, I’ve met Tinsley at several parties and she’s been geniunely nice and cool and not fake at all, really. And second of all, her hair cannot be fake because I’ve been trying to get my hair just like it for like three days.
ok, so your boyfriend cheated on you… with me. But he was so not your type – he wore Converse and didn’t you swear up and down that guys could only wear sneakers if they were the YSL cartoon hightops? Plus, he liked The Bravery. You love The Killers. It was really doomed from the start. Okay? Love, Eva.
Ugh, whatever. Since I’m basically doomed to bad karma and a massive Jenny freakout by tomorrow, I might as well use it to my full advantage since Sunset Heat is finally launching this week. Yes, you can watch it soon. And I can watch it soon, with Sebastian or Sophia, since Jenny won’t be talking to me. Really I feel wretched, but hey, I’m just in the company of other fashion girls who make one teensy mistake, suffer for a little bit, and then climb to the top.
Right Kate? One bad incident with some paparazzi and suddenly your career is “over” and then just as suddenly, your career is bigger than ever and everyone is falling-over-in-love-with-you.
Of course, you never hooked up with your best friend’s boyfriend.
Yeah, this is bad. I don’t even think an invite to the super-secret Chanel sample sale could make me feel better now. Although if you’ve got one and you want to send it to me, I would definitely consider feeling better so that I could go.
But Jenny, if you’re reading this, I swear it would be to buy you that pair of patent flats that you like so much.
Really. I swear.
So Sophia keeps bugging me to tell you guys… the first preview of our show will be up online next week… I promise I’ll post the link as soon as it’s available even though yes I am so hugely nervous about it… especially since I heard in the first episode they show the part of our vacation where Jenny and I wore the same dress and I get mad.
I mean, you have to understand, I really wasn’t mad…
Okay, yeah, I was. Fine whatever, what are the chances we would pack the same evening gown to Jumby Bay?
Anyway you’ll see. Keep checking back. And yes, chapter three soon!!!
what do you think? (you can click here if you need to zoom in)
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.”