Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sample Size Nightmare

No pain no gain. It’s a phrase used by Olympic trainers, chiropractors and girls who face the fearful feat of fitting a designer loan dress. This was what I face today.

Over my lunch break, I cab it to Peter Som’s atelier. I am greeted by the designer and I double kiss him hello. He quickly tells me he is extremely busy so his assistant Mariana will help me but he wants to see “Everything!” A nervous twitch I never knew existed suddenly plagues my eye.

His studio is tiny. The design area takes up the most space where two seamstresses hunch over a table sketching, stitching and sewing. There are clothes everywhere. Framed photos of Peter arm in arm with Anna Wintour decorate the walls. My “dressing room” lies in the back corner of the design area, curtained off by a burlap sheet. Mariana locks the door behind me that leads to an outdoor staircase and warns everyone that I will be undressing. This is no time to be bashful.

A rack is set before me of iconic pieces from Peter’s current spring 2006 line and previous collections The garment bags read society names like “Tinsley,” “Tory,” and “Amanda” (as in Mortimer, Burch and Hearst) designating the celebuatantes who wore them previously.

Eyeing the gowns' minute size, my heart starts to thump. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I shop at Lane Bryant. I happily stock my wardrobe with cute, sample size pieces from Bergdorf, Barney’s and Bendel’s like the rest of Manhattan female populous but when it comes to the dresses hung before me, I might as well be Anna Nicole Smith (pre-Trim Spa, baby).

My first attempt is an olive green satin strapless number that grazes the floor. Step one. I pull up the dress. Step two. I pull up the zipper. It glides easily and I let out a breath of relief. This is going to be easier than I thought, I think to myself. The zipper stops. I tug a bit. It doesn’t budge. I tug harder. Nothing. I start to sweat. Damn. I should have drunk that tea.

I toss the dress aside like a used gum wrapper and grab another. This one is cotton candy pink and vaguely resembles the tutu Lara Flynn Boyle got so much flack for wearing at the Golden Globes a few years back. At this point I would wear a Glady garbage bag – as long as it fit. No such luck. I quickly realize that all of these fabulous frocks are not “sample size” at all, they’re supermodel size, ie: suicide size. I’m now drenched in sweat and consumed with a primal fear that I may be leaving empty handed. No. I think determinedly. Even if I have to cut off a limb, I am fitting into one of these goddamn dresses.

“How’s it going?” I hear Mariana call from behind the curtain. The flimsy thing now separates us between a world of hope and joy and a world of gloom and despair.

“Oh, actually, pink isn’t really my color,” I lie. It’s funny how easy it is when you’re faced with a life and death situation.

She tears back the curtain and I grip the pink thing for dear life using it as a handkerchief to cover my chest.

“Hmmm, what about this one?” She hands me a short black cocktail dress, similar to the first but much shorter. Why not.

“Great!” I grab it and practically shove her out of the way. Third time’s a charm right? I take a breath and suck in deeply like I’ve never sucked in before and pull it on. Like a blessing from the heavens above the dress slides on, the zipper glides up and the hook fastens. Praise the lord!! Hallelujah!! It fits. It’s tight as hell but it fits. Can I get an Amen?

I search for a mirror but there is none to be found. The only mirror in the entire office is by Peter’s office in front of everyone. Fantastic. I slip on the complimentary brocade Manolos that are the most beautiful things to ever touch my toes and totter out.

The walk to the mirror that lies only a few feet away seems eternal. Once I arrive, the reflection awaiting me is surprisingly not that bad.

Peter comes out for the final verdict. “Sexy!” He exclaims.

“It’s not too tight?” I ask timidly.

“No it’s totally hot.” He gushes like a teenage girl.

I look in the mirror and try to see what he sees. The dress does squeeze in all the right places. And it actually looks okay. Score one for the kids!

Final Word: From now on I think I’ll leave this whole designer loan thing for the socialites and celebrities who subsist on bottled water, baby carrots and benefits. But for us real girls who consider a bagel a healthy breakfast rather than an enema, I’ll stick to store sizes.

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