… is to be better behaved the next time I go on vacation. Check out my personal dramas on the Sunset Heat show!
I knew Marianne was in a good mood because she’d gotten her own Starbucks. It was early on Monday and I was on my way to a beauty shoot, where “face of the moment” Lily would test the latest in radioactive lipstick – “huge in Paris,” mentioned Marianne, which I took to mean, “Nicolas bribed me to feature it in a shoot.”
“Ava,” she purred from her desk, “get the publisher’s office on the phone please. I just had a meeting with BME” – the Biggest Makeup Company Ever – “and they’ve bought all the beauty ads in the June issue.”
That’s about 2 million dollars. That’s a lot of shoes.
“Oh and Ava?” calls Marianne, “At the beauty shoot, I need you to make sure that Victoire didn’t bring his toddler again. You remember what happened last time.”
Victoire is ur chief makeup artist and “his toddler” Sammy smooshed ten crayons onto a Chanel couture gown during a Collections shoot last month. Try explaining that to Karl.
I crammed into the subway and arrived at Milk Studios, ready to “supervise” – Marianne’s word for spy and report back – the entire beauty department, plus one notoriously gloomy British supermodel and Victoire, who has indeed brought Sammy, plus his entire Crayola Big Box of Markers. Shoot.
“Darling,” he says as I arrive, triple kissing the air and pulling me into the studio, “Disaster.“
“Dizzyter!” echoes Sammy, holding up an orange marker.
“Oh no,” I answer, “Will Lily not pose until she can recite the first chapter of the Canterbury Tales in Italian?” This has happened before, but no.
“It’s worse,” moans Victoire, “the makeup that Marianne insists we use for the shoot? From BME? It’s crap! You see, the shoot is supposed to be about radioactive lipstick, but the stuff looks like mud! It’s so colorless, so blah – and it smells like cherries.”
Lily, of course, is allergic to cherries.
“Ava, what are we going to do? This is the only makeup they sent for the shoot! I could have an assistant buy some more…”
“But this studio is costing $2000 an hour and that’s not going to work,” I say, finishing his sentence. “Okay. Well. What about…”
“Ooh!” a shriek and I look up. Lily has bent her emaciated frame over 3-year-old Sammy. “Ooh are you colouring?!” she exclaims. “I love color!”
“Color!” giggles Sammy. “Color! Color! Color!”
And then the swipe. The marker sails up, and onto Lily’s perfect puggy nose, and suddenly a streat of ultraviolet goes across her face.
“Color!” giggles Sammy, and here’s the miracle, Lily joins in. “Color!” she echoes, and whoosh! Another marker sails up to her face, this time neon pink. It gets her left eye and looks sort of cool.
“Lily,” instructs Victoire, “Don’t move.”
He grabs the photographer by the scruff of the neck and points. “Shoot that,” he says quietly. “Shoot it now.”
“Sammy,” he grins, “Keep coloring, sweetie. Lily, turn your face to the light, okay?”
A red marker streaks across her lips and voila – radioactive lipstick.
The next day we get the shots back; Marianne and I review them in her office.
“This is brilliant,” she muses, “I mean, absolutely brilliant. You see? There’s no way Victoire could get this kind of genius with a child around the set. It was good of you to make sure there wasn’t any baby sitting going on. Oh I’m just so pleased,” she continues. “This shoot will ensure that BME totally sells out.”
Yeah. Totally sells out of Toys R Us.
I know I haven’t been a very good girl this year, so if you won’t let me have the Oscar de la Renta sheath I really want
Can I have the J. Crew knockoff they made for winter?
Come on, it even looks like a coal print!
(Or just check us out, on Sunset Heat.)
The best party of the year was the Not Vogue Christmas party, but I almost couldn’t go because the fashion closet was a disaster. We’d just done this giant shoot of Kiera Knightly for the cover, and piles of clothes still needed to be bagged, tagged, and sent back to KCD and PR Consulting. We were, like, hemmoraging chiffon.
This is how returns go: pick up a $6000 dress. Shove it into a garment bag like it’s a dead squirrel. Stick an address on it, throw it on a rack, and screech for the intern to run it downstairs, where a messenger picks it up and ferries it back to sample heaven. Once it’s gone, you check it off your list of clothes, and voila. You are now a bonafide assistant fashion editor.
The party started at 8, and at 7:50 we only had one dress left – a black Lanvin sheath that they needed for a Kate Winslet movie in London the next day. I was filling out the FedEx form when I realized the closet was spotless – no racks of clothes, and no Lanvin dress in sight. This was not good, and of course, Marianne picked that exact second to check on me.
“Ava, FedEx is waiting downstairs. Have you wrapped up the Lanvin yet?”
“Where’s the Lanvin?”
“Well Ava, it didn’t just walk away on it’s little platinum zipper, did it? Come on now, where did it go?”
“Honestly Marianne,” I reply, “I’m not sure it even came back. I mean, maybe Kiera kept it for the Pride and Prejudice premiere? I know every inch of this closet, and there hasn’t been a Lanvin dress in sight since it was first called in.”
“Ava,” starts Marianne, and all of a sudden there’s a healthy flush in her cheeks. This is bad. Marianne looks sick and sallow unless she’s angry. This is very bad. “Ava,” she continues, “Your only responsibilities are to answer my phones and to run this fashion closet. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that since Karl expressed his desire to use you as his Chanel cruisewear model, your attitude has vastly plummeted, as has your esteem from the staff. You have worn flat shoes twice this week and I’ve noticed sugar packets- not even splenda, but sugar – on the outskirts of your desk. Perhaps you should consider whether you need a job with less responsibility and sophistication, and let me know your thoughts on the matter tomorrow.”
“Now Ava, stop crying and get your coat. We have a party to attend.”
And so we did. Ironically, the best part of the Not Vogue Christmas party was the food. I mean, it was the only time during the year when we could actually, publicly, eat. Of course, I couldn’t eat because I was too upset about Marianne’s lecture – did she fire me? – and the missing Lanvin dress – where the hell was it?
Before I could escape to the bathroom and sob some more, it was time for the secret santa exchange, where everyone swapped gifts. The rumor was that Marianne always rigged it, to make sure all the office feuds got solved (or perpetuated) with free stuff.
That meant Cher, our accessories director, got a yearlong pass to Equinox and a giant hint to drop ten pounds. Fashion director Alessa got a $1000 gift card to Starbucks – a reminder from the publisher to stop skipping the morning staff meetings. And Marianne got a big black box from Valeria, taped so tightly that she had to slice through the packaging with her Cartier lock bracelet.
Inside were a bunch of styrofoam packing peanuts and a card that Marianne quickly snatched. It was on flimsy paper, and almost looked like a receipt. Wait a minute, it was a receipt…
“Dear eBay Customer,” read Marianne aloud, “here is the Lanvin dress from the latest collection. I can assure you it’s only been worn once, by Kiera Knightly. Your $4000 investment is certainly worth the extravagance. Thanks for your purchase, Valeria.”
The room froze like a forehead after Botox. Marianne dumped the box over, and inside was the missing Lanvin dress. Immediately, I burst into tears – this must be how it feels when your kid runs away in Disney World and the police find him on Space Mountain. And everyone is staring but I don’t care. We found the dress. I’m not in trouble. It was only stolen.
Wait a second.
“Wait a second,” snarls Marianne, “Valeria…”
“Marianne, wait, I can explain. It’s just… it’s the wrong package; your present must be under my desk… I can explain,” she grovels, hiding behind the collar of her McQueen coat like a scolded puppy. Everyone stares.
“Go ahead Valeria,” answers Marianne in a hushed tone. “Why don’t you explain?”
Pause. Finally: “It’s just a dress. Lanvin makes hundreds of dresses. This is just one. And I DESERVE it. I work 24/7 for you, Marianne. I give up my sanity for you. I have your passport photos retouched so you always look glamorous! I make sure Oscar and Zac never make empire waists because you look terrible in them! I try your fad diets first to make sure they really work! And what do I get in return?! Nothing! No acknowledgement, no support… don’t I at least deserve a dress?”
“Of course you do,” answers Marianne, as the entire staff collectively drops its jaw. “Of course you deserve the dress, Valeria. I’ll trade you for it – you take the dress, and tomorrow you can give me your letter of resignation. And if you steal any of my stationery to write it, I swear I’ll have you arrested.”
Pause. Valeria flees. Then:
“Ava, stop crying this very second,” snaps Marianne. “I’ve gotten you a present.”
She pushes forward a very large Chanel box and I am aghast.
“Go on,” she instructs, “open it up.”
Inside is her dry cleaning.
“I’ll need it back first thing tomorrow, okay Ava?”
Marianne winks and weirdly, I’m relieved.
OMG, Sebastian just forwarded this post on Mediabistro to me:
|bergdorfblonde||Posted – 12/7/2006 3:54:42 PM | show profile | email poster
I am an investigative journalist looking for original news stories that haven’t been covered to be featured in a major NY newspaper. If you have any info, I will keep it confidential or give you credit; whichever you request. I am just looking for any juicy news stories that haven’t been broken yet. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Thanks!
Are you KIDDING me? Okay I have a juicy story: intern at newspaper so desperate for clips that she posts help wanted ads on message boards to get somewhere, instead of doing her job. Who’s gonna write that one?
(chick lit author or TV star? let me know what you think of my Escada adventure in front of the camera… I personally think I should stick to dishing about fashion magazine scandals…)