A quick escape – part three
Apr 15, 2020 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Greetings dear readers and welcome to the final chapter in our quick escape series. In these vignettes we’ve explored historical moments as seen through the eyes of fictional protagonists. In our first feature we met a young lady in Paris embarking on a marvelous ascent to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Our next story introduced us to Antonio, trusted courier to Ferragamo and one of the first to see the iconic rainbow wedges created for Judy Garland. I hope these quick escapes have been as fun to read as they have been to write. Where and when will this final adventure take us? Read along and let us know your guesses in the comments below…
Quick escape 3: taking flight
Josephine sat fiddling with her satin gloves. She couldn’t believe her luck, being picked from an ordinary lineup and transported to this palatial room. If someone would have told her how this day would have unfolded, she would scarcely believe them. Yet here she was and this time felt different. Normally Josephine and the camera had a prickly relationship because it seemed that its focus never found her smile. But here, in this room, surrounded by glamour, she found the strength to push that unfortunate history aside. Today she was a central figure, handpicked by the master himself. As he had spoken to her about the significance of the day he seemed so calm. Something about it reminded Josephine of her grandfather telling bedtime stories. His tone immediately put her at ease and it wasn’t just Josephine. A peaceful quiet permeated the entire room whenever the master spoke. Even his gestures to the workmen seemed regal, as if the weight of a ten year legacy was nothing more than a feather.
As the workers scurried about, making final adjustments to the drapery or the positioning of the sofa, Josephine took the opportunity to really look at the room she was in. Earlier in the day it had all been a blur. Once her final fitting was completed and she was in the gown, the heft of the fabric consumed her focus. Josephine was so determined to not trip or damage the garment, it was as if her environment didn’t exist. All she felt was her breath against the fabric. Josephine was told the master had selected this gown specifically for her and she had been trying to figure out why ever since the final tie was fastened. The whole aura of the dress was ethereal and she felt like a delicate cloud. It was strange because this was a feeling unfamiliar to her, yet it somehow felt like it had always been a part of her. Josephine knew the dress was transforming her and she decided to let it continue on its mission, excited to see where it went next. Her mind snapped back to the room.
Delicate carvings met her eye at every turn. This was no simple room. The walls reminded her of the intricate piping on those tall wedding cakes she admired in the bakery windows during her Saturday strolls. Every part of the room seemed so sumptuous, as if she could just take a little piece of the wall and it would taste like the sweetest vanilla. The small settee was the most becoming blue she’d ever seen. The kind of hue that would complement any tone. It was grace in a pigment and she walked over to run her fingers along the soft velvet. In her trance she didn’t notice the ladder at first. But the workmen kept positioning and re-positioning it near the settee. She was so confused as this tall intruder was clearly not like its well-mannered peers. Certainly the sofa would not be seen with this lanky ladder in public! Yet the minutes ticked by and it wasn’t budging an inch. Josephine kept staring at it as if her mind would will it to relocate. No luck.
In the midst of this contest of wills, the double doors flew open. The master was present and he had experienced a metamorphosis of his own. His calm energy remained, but this time it was structured within a breathtakingly tailored suit. His eye for detail was heightened as he carefully positioned every woman in the room. He was creating a living sculpture and this was no time for argument. Each woman obediently arranged herself according to his vision. Watching the process captivated Josephine. Then it struck her, each person in this endeavor was a special consideration to the master. Whether a guardian of a gown or the hanger of a curtain, every movement mattered. The gravity of this event started to crystallize in her mind and just then the master called her name.
She supposed she should feel honored to be given a position of height, but she had to smile to herself. She mused, “of course the camera won’t find me but a silly old ladder will!” With caution, she slowly placed each foot on the rung, higher and higher she climbed. The layers seemed to feel weightless and she felt like a bird. The photographer got into place and provided some encouraging words. Josephine wasn’t sure what came over her but suddenly her foot took flight. To look at her was the picture of danger, but she felt nothing but exhilaration and elegance. Stretching her leg behind her the dress flowed like a waterfall, shimmering and joyful. She saw the master smile and as quickly as the day began, it was over.
Later that night as the champagne flowed and the bulbs flashed, Josephine found a quiet corner to soak in the memories of the day. She didn’t want to forget a single detail. Josephine wished she could store it away in a special place in her mind, cherishing it whenever she wanted. As she was savoring every aspect of the day, Josephine realized one mystery remained. She looked down at the gown, knowing that soon they would part ways. She still didn’t understand why the master had put them together. Every other pairing made sense, but she still couldn’t fathom what the master had to have been thinking. Just then she noticed the dull murmur of the crowd growing louder. The master was walking by, their eyes met and he greeted her as his swan. He ushered on by her, reporters and wealthy patrons in tow. Josephine stood there stunned. The dress had transformed her indeed – into the woman she didn’t even realize she could be. From that day on she only bought garments from the master because he knew fabric was the building block of dreams…
Have you guessed where our lovely Josephine spent the day? The year was 1957 and the occasion was the 10 year anniversary of the House of Dior. In our vignette I’ve imagined the lovely lady in the upper right from this photo is our heroine Josephine, a model starting out who is about to have her big break. When I first saw this picture her playful pose intrigued me and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to imagine what she may have been thinking about on that special day!