Tuesday, 5 January 2010

After A Fashion

Lorraine shivered as a cold draught found passage down the neck of her fashionable designer top. Her mother nagged her continually to wear more `serviceable’ clothing - dowdy was what she really meant! And Lorraine was anything but dowdy.

She flicked a strand of honey-blonde hair out of her left eye, even though she had taken hours to put it there and ensure it would return there each time she flicked it.

“Clip that bit of fringe from out of your eyes,” her mother had admonished, “you’ll damage your eyesight.” But Lorraine had just shot her a look of pity.

How was it possible that HER mother, could be so...so...lacking in a sense of fashion? It would be like Naomi Campbell’s mother wearing clothes from Damart!

Lorraine loved her mother very much but avoided her in the street and kept dates of PTA meetings secret from her, so she wouldn’t be seen by anyone from school.
It wasn’t even that she was ugly. In fact, Lorraine conceded, she could see she got her looks from her mum. But today had been the last straw . Mum had followed her down their garden path, calling after her “Lainey! You’ll break your neck in those shoes! There’s no support in them and they’re much too high!”
Lorraine had thought she’d die from embarrassment, but fortunately there was no one in the street to witness her shame.

She had to do something about her mum that much was clear, but what?
Lorraine’s best friend Shaunna was waiting for her at the coffee bar.

“Lainey!” Shaunna waved, accidentally smiling broadly for a second or two before she remembered how deeply uncool it was to bare your teeth in anything excepting a snarl.

“Hi Shaun,” Lorraine pouted coolly.

“You’re a bit, like, late, Lainey. Problems with the wrinkly?” Shaunna now adopted the supercool drawl of youth.

Lorraine rolled her eyes heavenward in a practised gesture. “She’s SO uncool Shaun,” and she recounted to her friend the whole `shoe thing’ as it would become known.

“...down the path? You mean, like, out of the HOUSE?” Shaunna was incredulous.

“Honey, you have to DO something before your street-cred is, like, no more.
What if you’d been, like, SEEN with her?” Shaunna’s eyes were wide with horror.
Lorraine knew her friend was right and they spent most of the afternoon discussing the problem as they browsed around the shops.

Four hours and a good few pounds lighter in the purse, Lorraine felt much better.
They still hadn’t thought of a reasonable solution to her dilemma with her mother, Shaunna’s suggestion of slipping her some LSD notwithstanding, but she had bought a really cute top, a fashion magazine and a nail polish to die for.

They stopped at another coffee bar and idly flicked through the magazine cooing over the outfits, ogling the male models and pulling the female models to pieces, going back now and then to suggestions for the `mum problem’.

Then it was there. Staring them in the face. ‘A Make Over Your Mum’ competition.

Lorraine snatched the magazine from her friend and looked more closely (she needed glasses really, but wouldn’t wear them).

“Listen to this Shaun! ‘Make Over Your Mum. Three prizes to be won by lucky readers.' ’ Third prize is a makeover worth £250.00 in the hometown store of your choice and a selection of Gala Girl cosmetics,” Lorraine screwed her eyes up to focus better.

“Second prize is £500.00 in a choice of towns and the make-up. The first prize is....Oh! Listen to this!...£1,000 worth of makeover in London Design House of Mario LuRicci! That’s not all! There’s a film Premiere and three nights in a top hotel! And that’s for TWO!” Lorraine was so excited, she jumped up out of her seat and forgot to be cool. “I could meet Mario LuRicci himself Shaun! He could spot my potential! This could be my lucky break, I could be a model!"

“You have to, like, win the comp first Hon,” Shaunna drawled, secretly as jealous as hell, but pleased it came over as professional ‘cool’.

“So, let’s win it!” Nothing much was going to have the power to deflect Lorraine from her purpose now.

Two acrylic nail-biting months later, a letter arrived. Lorraine was on the phone to Shaunna in seconds.

“We won! We won first prize! I told you that photo would get the sympathy vote. That grey Crimplene dress! Yeukk! And that cardi!! Oh Shaunna! Soon I’ll be able to walk down the street with her! Isn’t it wonderful?” Lorraine was ecstatic.

“Of course, there won’t be much they’ll want to do with me. I could have stepped out of their own fashion house magazine. But it will be nice not to have to pay out for a change. It’s a shame you didn’t win anything for your mum,” Lorraine allowed herself to purr, “but at least you can console yourself with the thought that she wasn’t grotty enough!”

One month later they were in London. A limousine met them at Euston Station and carried them, in grand style, to the hotel to settle in hand have `brunch’.
Lorraine thought she had died and gone to heaven. Three days had flown by in a flurry of activity and shopping. And boy, did she shop! The prize money was well enjoyed and Lorraine decked herself out in all the lovely designer clothes she could squeeze out of £800.00, which, actually, wasn’t very much. She’d given her mum £200.00 on the grounds that it was her mum who ‘was going to have the make-over, so she wouldn’t need much more than that…’!

Shaunna was getting more and more fed up with the regular up-dates and ‘inside angles’ of the world of fashion of which Lorraine now thought herself an icon and an expert. It was ‘Mario’ this and ‘Mario’ that. But Shaunna was realistic enough to realise that she’d be just as bad, if not worse, if it were she who had won the competition and so she took it with good grace.

On the day of the final unveiling, Mario was on his best behaviour and was charming to both mother and daughter, although he did eye Angie with a peculiar expression.

Both women were led away and pampered in the beauty salon and then were taken through to the fashion house where they were blindfolded to keep up the suspense, and dressed from top to bottom.

Their chaperone for the day, Ros Kenning, came through to them whilst the finishing touches were being made and brought them some news. There was going to be some television coverage and did Lorraine and Angie mind co-operating?

Lorraine was beside herself! Of course they didn’t mind! This was her hour of triumph, just wait ‘til the girls at home saw them! Soon the time came for the unveiling and Lorraine couldn’t stand the suspense. She just couldn’t wait to see what miracle Mario had performed on her dowdy mother.

Would it be Heroin chic or Haute Couture?

There was a countdown to the unmasking and when it came to it, Lorraine couldn’t focus at first. After being blindfolded the T.V. lighting was very bright at first, but when she could, she looked expectantly at her mother.

Lorraine’s smile froze on her face. This had to be a sick joke. They hadn’t done her mum! Then she looked again and could see some small differences, but the general impression was not much altered.

Mario came out, beaming from ear to ear, “Ah! My leetle guinea-pigs are ready – no? Iss wonderful, wonderful! Bellissima! Little one,” Mario bent close to Lorraine’s ear and whispered, “iss good to smile, show teeth – yes? Iss passe to be so cool now, you don’ need to scowl so anymore!” and he went off beaming beatifically at everyone.

Now she came to look around her, his entourage were all wearing big beaming smiles and various versions of her mother’s wardrobe - the old one!
Mario approached the front area where the T.V cameras were and Ros Kenning did a short, informal interview with Mario about his new `Mama Mia’ collection.

“Inspired by my own Mama,” Mario explained, “hence the collection title - ‘Mama Mia’...”

Up until this point, Lorraine hadn’t given a thought about her own transformation and there’d been no opportunity to sneak a look because of the blindfolds, but now they were unveiling the mirrors for mother and daughter and the last thing Lorraine remembered before losing consciousness was grey crimplene......

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