State: New York
Date: September 19th, 2012
On the first day of Fashion Week, Louis Jacques-Mousse, the world’s “most influential designer,” reviewed his spring line. Wearing his usual fur-lined sports jacket and bejeweled captain’s hat, he took up a magnifying glass, and studied every stitch and crease. Technically, each piece was perfect, but Louis still wasn’t impressed.
“My show is in four days,” he said to his Second In Command, “It is to be the finale, and I have no great pieces!”
“What will we do?” said the Second In Command.
“Three more designs must be created to highlight the collection,” Louis proclaimed. “I will look at the trends of my fellow designers, and then improve upon them.”
With that goal in mind, Louis took his limo to Lincoln Center, where a larger-than-life tent had been carefully arranged; it’s steepled roof rising above the nearby Opera House and courtyard fountain. Louis sat beside some of the world’s most influential editors, models, actors, buyers, and photographers as the lights dimmed, and the show began.
Louis looked on glaringly, but inside he was seething with jealousy. How beautiful all the pieces looked. He was most fascinated by a series of raincoats, each perfectly capturing a color of the rainbow. He was tickled; however, to find that the coats were much too bulky, and seemed to stunt the models walk.
“I can do better than that,” he scoffed. “My raincoat will be twice as beautiful, and feel like nothing.” The second the show ended, he hurried back to his office on Central Park West. He took the elevator to the top floor, and marched into a room marked “Experimental Design Facility.” He knew there was only one employee who could help him, his “secret weapon,” Daphnie Taylor. She was a beautiful young woman with tired, but sparkling, eyes. Her hair was braided, wrapped in a bun, and occasionally acted as a pincushion. Her clothes usually had bits of fabric statically clung to it.
“Hello, Daphnie,” he said, making her look up from her sewing machine, “I will need you to drop what you’re doing, and make the world’s most colorful raincoat,” he said.
“That sounds doable,” Daphnie said.
“That’s not all,” Louis grinned, “It must also be lighter than air, and I’ll expect it by tomorrow morning.”
“Now that sounds difficult,” Daphnie said, “I might need more time.”
“If you fail,” he said, “You will never work in this town again. So, I suggest you get to work,” Louis exited, before Daphnie could protest. She put her head on the table, sighed, then looked up, and attempted smile.
“Interns! Brainstorm!” she rang out. Within seconds, four young pupils assembled from every corner of the room. They had heard Louis’s demands, and, like Daphnie, they welcomed the challenge.
Over the next forty-five minutes, Daphnie encouraged her interns to freely voice whatever ideas popped into their heads, and eventually a solution arose out of two words, “helium pockets.” The team worked all through the night, and, by morning, Louis had his weightless raincoat.
“I never doubted you for a second,” Louis said, “I will have to challenge you even more.”
With this in mind, Louis attended a second fashion show. This one featured wedding dresses; each one with a train longer than the one before it. Louis was impressed by the statement of the gown, but noticed how the flower girls struggled with the bulk of creamy satin.
“If only a dress could hold its self up,” he thought, taking the idea back to Daphnie.
“You will design me the greatest wedding dress the world has ever seen,” Louis said to her. “It must be longer than a limo, with no flower girl required.”
“Alright. I’ll just get more helium,” Daphnie said, but Louis shook his head.
“No. We must have something entirely new,” he said, “If you succeed, then you will receive a raise. If not, you will never work in this town again.” With a flick his wrist, Louis excused himself from the room.
“What will we do?” said Daphnie, calling her interns.
“We could attach wheels to the dress—tiny wheels,” said one intern.
“That’s not very romantic,” said Daphnie.
“What if we put doves on the wheels?” said another intern.
“What if we just made doves?” said Daphnie. Each intern looked from one to the next. Then, in unison, they shouted, “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. I love it,” and they got to work. When Louis arrived early the next morning, he found eight chirping titanium birds holding up the unending train of a couture gown.
“Unbelievable,” Louis said, “You have won your raise. Only one more design to go, and you will be entirely in my good graces.”
“How about ten percent stock in the company?” Daphnie bargained.
“I’ll give you five,” said Louis, “but you’ll have to earn it. Let’s see what you do with your next challenge,” and he set off for one final show. This time his favorite piece was a cocktail dress shimmering with rhinestones, and it gave Louis his final idea.
“I want a dress that is all brilliant shimmer,” he said to Daphnie.
“How do you mean?” asked Daphnie.
“I want shimmer and nothing else,” Louis said.
“But that’s impossible,” said Daphnie.
“You’ve already proved that nothing is impossible. Now you just have to prove you’re worthy of stock. The show is at 4 P.M. That gives you five hours. Go!” Louis left, as usual.
“Shimmer is an adjective,” Daphnie said to her crew, “How do we make it a noun? How do we make it solid?”
“He didn’t say it had to be solid,” said one of the interns. Daphnie thought on this for a while, when a daring idea popped into her head. Unfortunately I won’t be able to tell you what that idea was. That information has been classified. All I know is what happened next. On the way to the fashion show, the “dress” nearly blinded two cabdrivers, and a security guard. Backstage, Louis had to put on sunglasses to even look at it. Still, he assigned a model to wear it, and made it the finale.
The show started with bold colors, as the raincoat took center stage. The stern model seemed to glide down the runway. Following up were a few of Louis’s beautiful, but less spectacular, designs. Meanwhile, Daphnie was more than happy to apply finishing touches to the models before sending them in front of influential observers, and photographers.
The second to last piece was the winged wedding dress. “Oohs” and “Ahhs” could be heard from all the guests in the tent. A woman in the front row couldn’t take her eyes off the mechanical doves as they held patterned lace between their beaks, and glided through the air. A leading fashion editor would later write that the dress was “a vision out of a fairy tale…the stuff of dreams.”
Even so, nobody could have expected what came next. The lights went out, and just as the audience’s eyes began to adjust, out stepped a model dressed in light. It can’t be described any better than that. It was like looking at a star. Nobody could look for more than a few milliseconds, and yet nobody wanted to look away.
When the model turned and walked off the stage, everyone rose for a standing ovation. Louis stepped out on the runway and waved and blew kisses. Models joined him and took one final strut down the runway. When Louis eventually walked off, Daphnie was waiting in the wings to congratulate him.
“You performed excellently,” Louis said in return, “You have earned your stock.”
“About that,” Daphnie said, “I’ve learned so much recently that I’m thinking of starting my own company. However, I might be willing to stay if you up the stock from five percent to fifty, and offer my interns full-time positions.”
Story Copyright by Alex Schattner
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