I stopped off at the shops on my way home, responding to that a little voice in inside my head that said ‘oooh, pretty, lets go in here.’
The owner of the shop, lets call him RA, was a talkative chap.
He had worked in the fashion industry for over 15 years as a stylist, for want of a better term. He had retired because he had seen too much of the ‘sickness’ of money. I told him some of my stories and how I now believe money doesn’t make the man, nor corrupt him. It just reveals what is already inside.
There are less than 50 people in the world capable of doing what RA does and only 2 reside in Australia. From the late 1980s to late 1990s he dressed and got up close and personal with every single one of the supermodels – that’s Linda, Claudia, Helena, Kristy, Naomi, Kate, Cindy and Heidi to name but a few - prepping them for catwalk shows and photo shoots. He was mentored by the Italian great Fiorucci who discovered RA when he saw him at a school event. RA had dressed one of Fiorucci’s relatives and Fiorucci just happened to be sitting in the crowd watching. RA was in his late teens then but jumped at the chance of going to Milan with Fiorucci. One career break and years of mentorship later and RA is a world leader, capable of charging 5 figure sums per hour (albeit retired now).
And I am now standing in front of him in my sweaty, stinky tracksuit.
I joke, ‘Well I would love to see you have a go at my travel wardrobe.’
RA walks to the shop door and flips the sign to ‘closed’ and says, ‘Well lets get to work then.’
Triangles of Light
He starts by showing me 2 catalogue pictures of Helena Christensen that are exactly the same. He asks me which one is more appealing. I point to one. He shows me how in this one there are extra ‘triangles of light’ and how in the other photograph he had coloured them in. By this he means the shafts of light that are revealed between buttons, openings in clothing and the draping of fabric. He explains that it is the size and amount of the light shown that makes a woman beautiful. The magic is in the mystery of what is being hinted at, but not revealed and the desire to see more. For example he says that many women make the mistake of pairing low cut, hipster jeans with a high cut top that exposes their tummy. What is considered more elegant and sexy is a longer top that exposes the flesh when a woman moves, for example if she reaches up for a shelf.
He starts pinching and tucking my top whilst I stand in front of the mirror. I find myself thinking I hope this guy is who he says he is.
‘This,’ he says, gesturing to the little rolls of back fat, pooling under my bra strap, ‘is ugly. This though’ gesturing to my stomach and line of my back, ‘is good and straight and firm. So we make loose here to cover shelves [shelves! Really?!] and make most of good stomach. You perfect though [a man that dressed supermodels said I was perfect. Please God can I have that tattooed on the underside of my eyelids. I think I just levitated] and look good.’
Over the course of the next 2 hours he folds the neck line of my shirt to show me how it should match the hang of my necklace, shows me the right length of necklace for the outfit and what type of heels I should wear with that so the necklace hangs just so on my chest. He shows me how to sit, stand, how to sit at a table and how to walk. He shows me the perfect shape of a dress for me (sweetheart neckline if you are interested) and tells me that pushing you breasts together for a cleavage is the worst thing you can do (apparently it’s better to push them up and out). He then tells me to buy a floaty, see-through, draped top and wear a vest underneath it. But – here’s the clincher – with no bra. Floaty see-through tops show the right amounts of light, without being too revealing, but the absence of a bra under a vest keeps you decent whilst hinting every now and again at something more. Especially if it is cold. It was like being at Trinny and Suannah grad school.
The tips kept flowing in a relentless manner until my brain gave up trying to process them and just hoped that some of the more important ones would go in and magically reappear before a night out.
[Footnote – went shopping today. Now own a rather sexy floaty top.]