We were invited by Cheryl from Bal Harbour Shops for our premier Miami night out together since husband arrived in Miami. The billing was the first Lanvin show EVER in the USA at the Fontainebleau and the most coveted ticket last Saturday night.
I needed a dress.
I had not bought myself something I really LOVED since husband’s book party three years ago when I bought a gold sequined tunic at Neimans and pink Pucci pants for our Spaced Out hippie party at the Ramscale loft in NYC ( see link to groovy video of this 60-ties party right here).
But this was an occasion, like OCCASION…
My inner frugal Dutch housewife voices argued with the Barbi Does Miami voices who told me: You deserve it, how long has it been? You’re such a goody-two-shoes but is Loehmans, TJ Maxx, a bit of Zara here, a bit of Woodbury Commons there really, really you? But what about being careful, the frugals said. What about the girl’s dentist? What will husband say?
My inner head was far far from the days when I made lots of dough, and shopped all the designer stores in Paris, London, Milan, NYC and had a $25,000 clothing allowance at Calvin Klein.
We’re sick of it, some voices said. You NEED to look like YOU, they said. Enough with that trashy Miami Beach look already. What happened to your own style? What’s with all this bling role-playing?
I dunno, Barbi said. I kinda like it. Its fun, you know high heels and mini’s and tits and ass. But I do rather like All Saints. Given an unlimited budget, which no one will give me, I’d blow it at All Saints, Spitalfields….
Before I knew it I found myself on Lincoln Road, ambling into the Victorian environment with hundreds of antique sewing machines (where do they find them all? Do they have this many in every store?) touching a fatigued leather jacket here, a weathered gold embroidered tunic there, an open-back ruffled washed habutai dress, a sweater that was to-die-for but luckily totally unnecessary in the Southern climate.
I headed towards the back.
Where the gowns are.
I was looking for…
That one dress…
The one I had seen before…
When they first opened about a year ago…
That parachute dress…
It was me. I remembered it as definitely me.
I passed an embroidered gown, long to the ground, somehow looking like it came from the V&A costume department.
I tried it first. The boob area, once I slid into it, was somewhere between my collar bones and my breasts. Hmm. Designed for some giant (it dragged the dressing room floor) high breasted fifteen-year-old Pre-Raphaelite nymph but clearly not for me.
Next I tried the parachute. The ropes were all tangled around my neck and I looked like some mangled British soldier who’d landed in a Normandy tree. The sales girl brought me another one – the sample from the display wall. It was perfect (they give good mirror at All Saints, all golden and dusky and slimming and oblique). This Parachute-dress made me look like Aphrodite on D-Day, exactly the look I was going for. Like so not Lanvin and so not Versace and so not where I’d been in my first year of Barbi Does Miami.
Before I allowed myself to hesitate. To re-think and second-guess. I said to the punky white-haired sales girl:
I WILL TAKE IT!
(My first expensive dress in over, what? Five, six years? )
Which part of a woman’s brain springs into action once she has the dress? The part that goes: Well … now you need a tiara! And shoes! And earrings! And what will you do with your hair? And make-up? And what color nails for the pedicure?
By the time I got to the car at Epicure I’d figured it all out.
I must admit I succumbed to adding a bit of Miami bling to my traditional beach-plastic cross earrings:
I also, don’t ask why, did a very blingy beach plastic tiara.
Which husband told me to take off my head before we left the house (I think he was right).
I got stainless-steel colored nail varnish. Did smokey eyes and hair like that Aphrodite parachutist on D-Day.
Oh, what delight to be in the bathroom for two hours putting it all together. First the shower, shave, blow dry, curlers, make-up – foundation, blush, eyes (light, darker, dark, black and mascara), take the curlers out, brush and spray. Underwear (I actually got a Macy stick-on front only bra, likeWhoTF thought of those? because the parachute back dipped really low), silver stilletto heels, and then I was ready for my dress.
It was hanging high on the bathroom door so I could somehow dive into the mass of tousled skirt and find my way to the neck opening without upsetting all that complicated roping….
Where it hung my eyes were kind-of level with the hem.
Was that? A speck of dirt? Actually a bit more than just a speck. More like an area of dirt. Like three/four inches of dirt near the hem. I got a wet towel and tried to brush it off. I realized it was mold and as I rubbed the fabric parted into a hole.
A hole! Mold and a hole!
Should I wear it anyway? I did not have anything else half as glam. Not anything that went with my hair and toes and shoes and the expected image in my head.
So WTF now?
I slipped into it.
The hem draped around me, sweeping the floor (my very clean bathroom floor).
I decided on denial.
I mean. I looked good. No one would see the hem. I had no choice. Husband was calling, we were already late.
Should I call the All Saints store now? Tell them I was wearing the dress with an existing hole cause I had no choice? Would they believe me, tomorrow? Or would they say that I was the culprit who wore the dress and ruined that hem?
As I came down our bachelor-pad stairs husband took pictures:
He did not notice anything.
I arrived at the Fontainebleau, and by the time I entered the ballroom I’d forgotten about my hem.
I had fun.
We found my super-pretty Winona/Audrey-esque friend Rebecca
and together with the Lanvin mannequins we ogled the local recipients of the now permanent (how could you, Mr. President?) Bush tax cuts, and the ways they’ll spend it..
and sat with our less affluent but smart and funny press and pr friends at an eleganca table…
We watched the show which went much too fast (the bride was there before I even started paying attention) I mean what is it with these models ? Do they run, possibly misinterpreting the word run-way, oblivious that some people are actually interested in seeing the clothes they are wearing?
In the end I even danced with husband on the catwalk while my inner ex-model had fantasies of sha-shaying down that runway showing off my All Saints gown…
But before I totally embarrassed myself we headed home.
The next morning I woke up in love with my dress. I had a super fabulous time in that dress! I got compliments from strangers in that dress! I looked at it lovingly, hanging on my bathroom door….
staring me in the face….
was a giant, at least two inches across, L-shaped rip….
about half way up the skirt in the folds of all that cotton…
My lovely dress no longer had a small innocuous hole at the hem, it had a HUGE fucking rip!
Not my rip! That was a rip caused by some short bitch who wore her stillettos in the dressing room and had tripped, and ripped, my dear darling dress before we even became acquainted.
I had bought a dress with serious baggage! Mold was one thing, but a rip called for divorce!
I phoned All Saints.
I got Gill the Manager.
Gill was lovely. Gill understood right away. Maybe Gill even knew that my floor sample of the parachute dress had been stained and ripped long ago because most women are not 6ft2 in careful bare feet.
Gill, I said. I love this dress, you gotta help me out…
Come and get a new one from the store room, Gill said.
So, at 1pm on Sunday, with a bit of a hangover, I snuck out to exchange my darling parachute dress.
Only there weren’t any in stock.
No more left. Not one. Not in Lincoln Road and not in Aventura.
I can give you a store credit, Gill said.
I do not want a store credit. I want my dress….
Sweet Gill looked at me. He pondered, then walked me over to a giant Apple screen in the middle of the store and ordered me my dress on line. All new. Untouched. Unworn. Never tried on by some Miami Beach midget in twelve inch heels.
A new parachute dress all of my own.
I think I’ll wear it to the Bruce Webber opening at MOCA on the 18th.
Fingers crossed it will actually arrive….
November 12, 2010 at 7:56 am
Brilliant! You looked fabulous and I laughed my head off. So enjoy Barbi! xxx
November 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm
So funny and real. I laughed so much. And a happy ending. You look great in the dress and in that tan. Will you ever return to Milford?
November 14, 2010 at 2:09 am
the epitome of glamorous and effortless chic
November 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm
Very glamorous and love your earrings. Nice photo of you and Alastair!!
November 26, 2010 at 6:41 pm
Just searching the net for accessory ideas as my very own parachute dress just arrived! I love it & plan to wear it as a wedding dress even though many disapprove..
You look fabulous in yours, fabulous! X
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March 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm
I am so happy to stumble across your blog! (By clicking on the comment you left on Penelope’s blog, not Googling something dirty, BTW).
I so so so so so love the “stainless-steel colored nail varnish” and “smokey eyes and hair like that Aphrodite parachutist on D-Day” description!
Parachute really is a great dress!