Authors: Bryan Murray
DESIGN FOR LOVE
Copyright © 2015 Bryan Murray
All rights reserved.
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The characters, events and company names in this Book are fictitious. Any similarities to known persons, living or dead or to private companies is coincidental and not intended by the author.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
To say that this was a hectic day in the life of Francine Dubois would indeed have been an understatement. Rushing around in the bustling Apparel Mart in Dallas, surrounded by a horde of half-clad models as she prepared for the first commercial showing of her fall collection, the attractive brunette was already up to her neck in problems.
With one hour to show time, two of Francine’s models had failed to show and the refitting adjustments necessary to get two slightly different shaped models into the original outfits, were not going well at all.
it, darling! Just
at her, she’s a cow!” screamed Vince Delayne, Francine’s cutter, assistant designer and seamstress, all rolled into one outrageously gay package. In fact, Karen, the 'cow' that he referred to, was a gorgeous, size eight, honey blonde that most red-blooded men would have killed to find in their Christmas stockings. But to the practiced eyes of Vince, resplendent with his glossy, shaved head, pink silk shirt and yellow cling pants that looked painted on, the fact that Karen was only a couple of inches shorter and perhaps five pounds heavier than the absent Caroline, had involved hurriedly letting out seams and shortening hems, hence Vince’s frenetic outburst.
Karen, in turn, was tolerantly unperturbed as she patted Vince’s bald pate affectionately from high on her fitting stand, as if to say, ‘Here we go again
Francine checked over her list of creations for the thousandth time, methodically flicking over the garments sequentially on the rail. “O.K., Vince,” she smiled wearily. “Just do the alterations, O.K.? I’ve got enough things to worry about. Did Mrs. Tibbett call about Alison? All I need is a sick child on a day like this!”
Vince, totally devoted to Francine and her talent, quickly calmed down and added with a reassuring smile. “She’ll be fine, Francine, probably just a heavy cold, sweetie.”
“I hope so. Now then, what about the evening gown for the finale? Have you done the alterations yet?”
“Jeez! I’ve only got one pair of hands, darling. I’ll get to it,
Francine sighed patiently and checked her list again. “Karen, don’t forget you’ve now got the final number as well, darling,” she gave a weary sigh. “I think I might kill that Caroline when I see her!”
Karen nodded, a knowing look on her face, thinking that here again was a first time novice who was heading for disaster, about to crash and burn if she wasn’t careful at that critical first show. She’d seen it happen many times before.
Out front, sitting with the commercial buyers from the major department stores, Yvette, Francine’s attractive Mother, waited proudly for the show to begin, an excited, expectant look on her face.
Two seats down from Yvette, sitting there in an immaculate tailored business suit with white shirt and attractive tie accentuating his deep tan, was the strikingly handsome Gerard Cinclare, a tower of masculinity in a seemingly endless sea of femininity. With dark hair, piercing green-eyes, Cinclare was well known to most in the industry as the owner of the ‘House of Cinclare’, a nationwide chain of high-fashion boutiques. Holding on to Gerard’s arm, as if afraid to let him go, was Jeri Ferrano an equally eye-catching, statuesque blonde, wide-eyed as she observed the parade of fashions on the catwalk.
Back in the changing rooms, Francine’s heart rate had already jumped another couple of notches as they were getting closer to the introduction of her new creations. Even Vince was squeaking in an even higher falsetto than ever. He looked as if he could have gratefully torn his hair out, if indeed he’d had any, burying his head in his hands.
“That’s it, Francie!” he cooed maniacally. “I’ve earned my nervous breakdown, I can feel a big one coming on, and
gonna deprive me of it!” he gave Karen a prod with the pin to keep her alert.
“Good! At least you’re still awake - don’t slouch you witch or so help me…”
Francine calmed him down, reassuring the pouting model. ”Just ignore him, honey, he’s a beast when he doesn’t get his latte!”
In the background, the voice of the Female Compere could be heard. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the collection of ‘Classique’, an exciting, new fashion house.”
Francine and Vince instinctively held out for each other’s hand. Francine mumbled the words. “This is it - Showtime!”
Vince put his arm around her shoulders, gave her a hug. “Let’s give ‘em hell, Princess!”
Out front, the audience, with Yvette, sparkly-eyed on the front row, awaited the appearance of the first of Francine’s creations. Francine had agonized long and hard over what to start with and her stylish, pink silk dress brought forth a murmur of approval that she hardly noticed, so engrossed was she in each successive creation being herded onto the catwalk. She made sure that shoes and accessories were all as planned as scantily-clad models seemed to be rushing in and out of view.
When Karen came back through the curtain, she gave them a quick rundown on the audience.
“Well?” Vince whispered. “What kind of a crowd do we have?”
“Bit frosty, I’d say.” mumbled Karen, her head lost in the folds of the outfit already being tugged off her shoulders by Francine.
“Great! Frosty! Just what we need.” Francine sighed, not realizing that what had started off reasonably smoothly for ‘Classique’ was about to start going downhill at a rate of knots!
It all began when the Female Compere became momentarily distracted by a certain handsome man in the audience, Gerard Cinclare to be exact, a man who could distract most women if he put his mind to it. By the time the Woman had regained her composure after being hit with the full amps of the white gleaming-toothed smile from Gerard, Karen was back on the catwalk in an outfit that didn’t even come close to the description emanating from the lips of the Compere. This was simply due to the fact that the stupid woman was reading from the
line! And so, the sleek navy and white cocktail suit being worn by Karen seemed somewhat far removed from the tasteful mauve business suit currently being described. It only took a second, which seemed more like a nano-second to the devastated Francine, before a small rift of laughter started to drift around the audience, loudly joined by Gerard Cinclare himself.
Almost immediately, Karen came scurrying back through the curtain, a look of embarrassment on her attractive face. Vince was beside himself, as effeminately livid as he could get, hissing through clenched teeth. “I think I’ll kill that ditzy moron - no, on second thoughts death would be too good for her!”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Francine’s throat was suddenly dry. “On second thoughts, I think death would be just fine!” she hustled the dilatory girls along. “So, come on, it’s not the end of the world, keep moving girls.”
To one side, Karen had already slipped into a slender-fitting, long black, evening dress as the harassed Francine gave her a final quick once over before urging her through the curtain onto the catwalk.
Out in the audience, Yvette was anxiously looking forward to the reactions from the assembled professionals as this, the top of Francine’s line, made its debut.
Trying not to make any more mistakes, the Compere was now reading carefully from the scripted program. “And now to the highlight of the collection. Here we see Karen…” the Compere’s voice trailed off as the second disaster struck in what seemed like slow motion to the horror-stricken Francine watching through the curtains.
As Karen moved down the catwalk, she suddenly got her heel caught in the hem of her dress causing her to lurch, slip and then, almost like an Olympic synchronized swimmer, dive sideways straight into the audience, head first towards the hastily outstretched arms of Gerard Cinclare!
With the instincts of a cat, Gerard pounced from his seat at the side of the stage, where he effortlessly caught the terrified Karen before setting her gently back on the catwalk. It all happened in a split-second of fluid motion that had the women in the audience open-mouthed in shock, feeling perhaps as if they were on the set of a Tarzan movie or watching acrobats at the circus.
Slowly, the audience began to realize what had just happened as they broke into a mixture of applause and laughter once again while Gerard, ever the ham, gave a quick Errol Flynn-style swashbuckling bow before returning to his seat.
Backstage, Francine could hardly believe her eyes. To have people laughing at her collection twice in less than two minutes was almost more than her tender heart could stand as a red-faced Karen burst back through the curtain.
“Jeez, what’s going on here?” she fumed. “I’m supposed to be a model, not a goddam stand-up comic!”
Francine consoled her, looking wistfully towards the dying laughter. “It’s all right, sweetie, it looks like my fashions needed some light relief, I guess.”
In the background, Vince suddenly let out a wail of anguish, almost swallowing the pins held between his lips, a sudden look of recognition on his face. “Oh, my God! It was
He clasped his head in his hands theatrically. “The hem! I forgot to do the
hem!” he rushed over to the disconsolate Karen. “That’s what tripped you, darling, I forgot to shorten the bloody hem!”
Francine put her hand consolingly on his shoulder. “Ah, well, what’s done is done. There’s nothing we can do about it now - let’s re-group in the morning, try and get things straightened out before we have to head for New York.” they all nodded glumly in agreement.
Half an hour or so later, the auditorium had almost cleared and the last of the buyers were concluding their final orders with the more fortunate designers and their staffs. Gerard Cinclare was also still there, larger than life, surrounded by women, the attractive Jeri still on his arm, as he concluded his purchasing transactions.
Francine tried to make herself look invisible as she made her way to the exit, just as one frumpy, bespectacled, brunette was fawning over Gerard in what could almost be described as hero worship. “That was such quick thinking of you, darling, to catch the poor model as she fell into the audience.” she cooed.
Francine cringed at the reminder and would have made it to the exit safely if it hadn’t been for Gerard’s loud remarks. “Thanks, Betty,” he smiled. “It’s one thing to save a damsel in distress, but believe me, it would take major surgery to save that Classique line!”
Francine froze in her tracks, turned to face him, a smoldering look in her beautiful brown eyes as she walked back towards him. It was as if he suddenly focused on her, smiling warmly, thinking that she was perhaps another member of the adoring entourage around him. He stopped and looked at her more closely, suddenly sensing that this may not be the case.
She ground the words out through clenched teeth. “I can see, sir, that you consider yourself something of an expert on fashion,” and in as offhand a way as she could think of to slap him down, she continued icily. “It’s a pity you are not as expert at exercising tact when you are not acquainted with all the circumstances!” she spun on her heel and stormed out leaving the gathering, including Gerard himself, open-mouthed as they watched her disappear.