Of course I would accompany my friend to a Vogue Fashion's Night Out cocktail party.
"But you have to look pretty," he said, as if that would be a problem.
"Um, ok I'll try…?" I was not sure whether to be mildly insulted.
"It's just that, well there's this girl…" he started.
Say no more. He was using me to make another girl jealous? I was the bait date to be dangled in front of her and show her what she was missing out on. Is that what he was saying?
"So do you still want to come?"
Like any self-respecting young lady of leisure, I did not have to think long about the next words that came out of my mouth.
Was he kidding? I would ditch the champagne and head for the designers faster than you can say "avoiding an awkward love triangle". I wanted to find out their inspiration, the process behind putting together a collection, how they got into fashion, what kept them there. I was not there for the drinks or delicacies; I was there for the people! And I do not mean the people I was going with (God love 'em). My mind was in a spin, imagining all the fantastic conversations I would have with fashion designers and industry insiders. But my friend was still talking.
"You have to look really good."
Right. Encoded in those six little words was a six-letter word: effort. I mean, of course I would try to look good (who am I trying to kid, it was a fashion event) but I had been hoping to casually press the Outfit Repeat button and wear something tried and true – a tablecloth I had turned into a skirt (no I'm actually not kidding. This ain't just any tablecloth. This is tablecloth couture), with nude heels, a crochet cardigan, maybe do something different with my hair, but essentially the same outfit I wore a fortnight ago. But NOW, well now I'd have to start a whole new outfit. So much pressure!
Three hours, a shower and seventeen million outfit changes later (seriously, no exaggeration. Ok, slight exaggeration) I was ready to go. Late! I was running late…
The idea of using me as human bait was ill-fated from the start and when I arrived, the disappointment was visible on my friend's face as he told me that I looked good, but that she was no longer there. By this point, however, my mind had already wandered elsewhere.
"That's Kit Willow! She's explaining her new collection. Come with me!" I instructed.
"But I'm the only guy here," he was moaning (or something along those lines. My attention was no longer with him. Willow was talking).
Inspired by mixed textures, the Willow design team had stripped raw silk and interwoven it with cotton and beads to make the coral-coloured suit jacket that Kit was pointing to. The timeless, signature cut included a fitted sleeve to allow movement and enhance the wearer's silhouette, while strong tailoring communicated the theme of mature femininity which ran through the entire collection. The result was a modern classic (check out Willow's debut resort collection at www.willowltd.com).
As we walked back past throngs of shoppers, I spotted the Carla Zampatti sign. "Carla Zampatti's my favourite," I said to nobody in particular, as my eye caught a classic-looking lady with perfectly coiffed hair gliding through the store with a sales assistant. "I would love it if that was her. Turn around, lady, turn around so I can see you – oh my GOSH that's CARLA ZamPATTI!"
I slid across the floor, screeched to a halt in front of my favourite designer and in rapid fire succession told her what had just happened. "… And then you turned around and it was YOU and I was like, 'Oh my goodness it's Carla Zampatti, I have to go over there and talk to her'. You're, like, completely amazing!", and all of a sudden the ladies were laughing and we're chatting like old friends.
Carla is impossibly warm and impeccably turned out, and had time for anyone who cared to talk with her. Her collection displayed a strength of character and boldness in the use of colour, contrast, and fabrics that speak (they don't really speak, guys, it's a figure of speech). As I explained to her, her designs move me. Her organzas dance, silks flow fluidly as liquid. Taffetas sing and georgettes lightly embrace the wearer. Refine style and this is what you've got: a collection bold as it is bracing, lovely as it is languid.
Carla and I spent another half hour talking about the fashion business ("It is a business," she tells me. "You must remember that, and know who your customer is"), the creative condition ("We are lucky enough to do what we love, every day," she says. "You must love it enough to sustain it"), and staying ahead of the times ("Fashion is always changing. We must always innovate"). While I was impressed at her insight, it was the time she took to meet passing customers and the genuine interest she displayed in them that really got me. As well as being a fabulous designer, Carla Zampatti is a true gentlewoman (check out her amazing collection at www.carlazampatti.com.au/).
It was only the next morning when, examining the contents of my purse, I pulled out an embossed business card and realised: I have Carla Zampatti's mobile phone number. In a little way, the thought made me absurdly happy and got me thinking.
What had I learnt last night? Sometimes you have a passion, and that passion becomes a dream. And by yourself, you may not have the right circumstances or possibilities to see that dream come to fulfilment. But there is yet hope. If Kit Willow can do it, you can do it. And if Carla Zampatti gave me her business card… well there's no moral to that. But hey, Carla Zampatti gave me her business card!
Hope and providence …....