Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Back to our regularly scheduled upbeat programming!
My phone broke, so unfortunately I've lost all the pictures I've taken, but I hope the verbal account will be enough.
So, I was invited to a very ritzy 4th of July party, and being as it was sprung on me quickly and unexpectedly I had no reason to refuse going.
Two days before the party, it turned into a double whammy: Not only was it going to be a ritzy party, but a VERY ritzy party with mandatory upscale attire required. Ugh.
I don't mind getting dressed up sometimes, but cocktail is the one thing where I have exactly one dress that might fit the category, and that dress doesn't fit me anymore (too big). Being as the time was too short to get my dress altered, a very nice colleague set me up with an appointment at one of the houses of couture that populate this city I live in.
I've never stepped foot behind the showroom of the ready-to-wear collections at ANY major couturier (yes, I do own some business suits from high-class brands simply because it's expected of me, but they're altered rtw not couture). I was told they had several sample sizes of couture dresses that "ran large"- it was a bit of a gamble but I was willing to take it in order to get the experience.
I arrived at the location- a spacious, exquisite shop in a brand-new glass-and-steel building not far from my workplace, kind of exhausted and in a bad mood. I think I looked a little scared because the person who was waiting for me and greeted me as soon as I stepped through the door took my elbow and assured me they had "miracle workers" on scene for me.
"So I need a miracle to look presentable?" was all I though.
I was steered through all the nice clothes on the floor (I'll have to go back, one of my black suits is getting worn-out and it looks like they're having some good new alternatives there), back through an almost invisible door and into a brightly lit, immaculate... well, it kind of looked like a modern living room with clothing racks on the side and one wall being a combination of a hairdressing studio/beauty salon. The person who had guided me sat me down on an off-white plush leather sofa and told me the stylist would be with me in a moment. Would I like something to drink in the meantime? Champagne? Ruinart or Ayala?
Stylist? WHAT had I got myself into? And why were there only about ten dresses on all the clothing racks? And was that a pouf or a raised platform?
My greeter wandered off with my slightly strangled "Just still water, please" order in his head, and I sat there, kind of bewildered and very much scared. What if nothing fit me? What if they were expecting a perfect size 2 person? What if I was hopeless? What did "running large" mean in this context? WHY did I need a stylist?
One second I was alone with all my thoughts running wild in my head, the next my greeter returned with a veritable squadron of people in tow. I shook hands and attempted to speak Italian with those who had a noticeable Italian accent, but we quickly decided on sticking to English since not everybody was comfortable with Italian and everyone had at least a way of making themselves understood in English.
There were two make-up people, a tanner, a hairdresser, a tailor with three assistants, the shop's manager, my greeter, and another two people sent to watch over the dresses. I was given with and signed a contract that I was going to just borrow one of these dresses on certain conditions and would return it the day after the event (I wasn't allowed to have it cleaned, weirdly enough), then the whole squadron made room for "the stylist".
He was an unassuming, very nice-looking man with a kind demeanor- until he started barking orders at me to take off my clothes.
One moment, take off my clothes? There is a ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE AROUND!
"We haven't got all day, we've seen it all, come on comeoncomeon I need to know what I'm working with!"
I don't mind being unclothed around people I know, but strangers stretched even my pretty loose limits. Still, I did what I was told.
"Not as bad as I feared." He then barked orders at one of the assistants- when had SHE scurried in?- to take away three of the ten garment bags hanging on the racks.
What followed was a pretty uncomfortable twenty minute interval during which I was doused with baby powder, the tanner was sent away (I didn't know if my skin would tolerate spray-tanning), I was wrestled (literally! Three people pushing and pulling at the same time!) into three to four layers of spanx (which had appeared from a bag one of the ninja assistants had brought in ninja-like), thankfully from unopened packages, and stood there unable to breath. Next my bra was inspected and deemed insufficient, so two gel push-up pad things got glued on. Yes, glued on. With glue. From a tube.
I was feeling kind of exhausted already and we were barely an hour in. I never knew dressing yourself could be this much work.
The stylist went through the garment bags, checking and rejecting two more, then had a rack with the five remaining ones wheeled close.
Meanwhile, all the currently uninvolved people had started drinking champagne from a cooler that had been ninja-d onto one of the side tables. I was THIS close to starting to drink too, but there were at least four hands on me at all times so I was a little too busy trying not to startle and jump.
The stylist selected one garment bag, pulled it open and out came a gorgeous... well, I'd call it a form-fitting t-shirt. For the first time, I dared open my mouth to refuse when thankfully he mustered me and said "No!", prompting a ninja assistant to bustle off with the rejected thing.
The second one was IT, according to him, but when I tried it on it kind of got stuck on my butt and was too loose in the bust, so away that one went.
The third I liked best, and it fit very well. It was a deep matte bronze-y gold color with copper tones woven through and looked like liquid metal. It went to about three inches above the knee and had a wider skirt I could easily move in. I thought it was great, but it was pulled off of me and put to the side as a maybe.
The fourth I hated because its decollete went down to my navel. It was rejected due to lack of... errr... "assets" to hold it up.
The fifth was another perfect fit, this time in a dark green. Again VERY close fitting, but the quality of the tailoring and the materials used ensured that all the spanx seams were still obscured. It was a toss-up between that one and the liquid metal dress, but the latter won due to being an inch or two longer and the skirt being looser.
The stylist then put the chosen dress back on the rack, and I was put in an armchair and my feet and hands attacked by specialists (I guess). My natural (short!) fingernails were left alone after I protested loudly enough that I couldn't stand polish on them, even for a short while. My toenails were painted a shimmer metallic color, something like rose gold/silver- well, actually, just about every color that was on my dress, in several layers. I still love the end result (though it's already chipped now).
Just as I was relaxing into the foot person giving me a massage (hey, I walk in high heels all day, every day- foot massages are heaven!) the hairdresser started on my hair. It got re-dyed an auburn color instead of my beloved dark brown. Yep, I was immobilized by both hands and feet soaking in tubs AND someone was doing my hair.
Everyone else was still drinking champagne, the third bottle I think. I wondered how they weren't drunk.
As my hair was drying, my face got attacked by a steamer and a person mumbling all the time about "Eyes disproportionate. Nice high cheekbones. Mouth full enough.". The stylist came back from drinking champagne with the other people (I kind of glimpsed the tailor altering the dress in a mirror). I got moisturized and then...
I think there was a layer of plaster applied, then a layer of drywall, then another layer of plaster. My face was a uniform color when they stopped. All the freckles were gone.
Thank goodness for being a contact lens wearer because the make-up people came from both sides and put eyeliner on me. All my protests that I could do these things myself were met with dismissive snorts.
I was painted for close to another hour. By now, I was seriously thirsty- I had never gotten to taking even a sip of my water, and short of breath due to the spandex. When the hand people finished, I FINALLY got to take a sip, then it was onto the pouf for a second fitting, needles being poked in uncomfortable places, back in the chair for more paint, out of the chair into the dress, the dress being sewn on, then back into the chair for a final make-up check and getting my hair done.
I was given shoes to wear with the dress. They weren't too different from my usual ones- strappy rose-gold sandals with a 4" heel, and the stylist was pleased to see I could walk in them. I'm thinking about finding and buying them, they were comfy!
Finally, after more than four hours of getting dressed, I got to look at myself.
This wasn't me. I kind of looked like one of those people in magazines (except not as thin). My facial expressions were so limited being made up like this, I was completely taken aback. The stylist told me that was so I'd look good in pictures- the make-up person had complained my face was "too expressive" and it'd taken a lot of work to take most of that away.
The dress looked fantastic. All the people, even those who had only been drinking champagne the entire time, clapped. I thanked everyone.
There was one more toast. Finally, a whole glass of water!
And a cup of coffee. My greeter, whom I hadn't seen through the entire ordeal, pushed it in my hands and told me I looked like I needed it.
Going to the bathroom was next to impossible in this whole get-up, by the way.
I was also still washing product out of my hair on Sunday, after three times washing it.
And it took an hour to get all the make-up off.
This was a fascinating experience, but it just isn't for me. Next time, I'll find someone to take my place. I was uncomfortable and not feeling myself the entire time, and even though I loved the dress, being saran-wrapped in spanx just wasn't worth being able to wear it.
My final conclusion to the whole affair is just that I'm glad I'm neither a model nor a movie star- even a tense litigation doesn't exhaust me as much as this.
I also never knew there are SO MANY THINGS needed to get made-up and dressed. I don't even own a blow dryer, FFS!
Hope you still had fun reading through this entire report- and yes, I got to rest on the couch for half an hour before I had to leave for the party, and I DID drink one glass of champagne with the stylist, my greeter, the shop's manager, the tailor, and the various heads of the various beauty squads. They were all really friendly, nice and calm once the ordeal was done with.
Strangest day ever, for me. I'm glad it's over, but I'm also glad I got to experience it.