Posing with the Big Boys

The Gate Crasher: Oct. 2012

“Isn’t it funny how people who can afford to pay always manage to get into these things for free?” said a man turning to my date for the evening, the thick smugness dripping from his smile like double cream.

I smirked uncomfortably to myself: Gate crashing was a financial necessity to me, but as my eyes moved up to the rows of gorgeous angular faces and coiffed heads across the catwalk, my grin froze. How was I going to keep up with this crowd?

I fiddled with the huge press card, improbably gained, hanging from my neck. All around me, rows of attractive and well-dressed people were engrossed in conversation, or eying the newcomers taking their seats. Heads angled towards the entrance with looks of carefully constructed boredom stretched across their faces and eyes held dull through oversized horn-rimmed glasses as if to say, it’s going to take more than that to impress me. I shifted uneasily on my front row seat.

“Mind your legs,” whispered a lady in my ear as her thick, florid perfume seemed to detonate in my face, while the backing lights dimmed and very loud pop music started up. “Your legs are on the catwalk!” she hissed, desperate this time.

A tall man wearing a red satin robe appeared and started to flounce down the walk and, just in time, I repositioned my offending limbs as he zoomed by, wagging his butt in joyous harmony with the music, the light glistening off his shiny skin.

This was the designer of the collection, Marcel Ostertag, camping away to beat the band. But the real models followed quickly on. Was this it? I asked myself. I had been expecting space-age materials bent into improbable shapes, feathers, boas, and oversized accessories.

“Now, that’s a really complete collection,” my companion exclaimed with satisfaction and superb confidence as Mr. Ostertag disappeared behind the screen to euphoric applause, as we pushed our way out of the tent through the self-absorbed crowds.

“This is Sophie,” she said, introducing me to a tall blonde of fresh-faced, immaculate beauty, adding unnecessarily and I suspect with some degree of glee, “She’s a model.”

“And what did you think of the show?” I said with that kind of keenness, which is so instantly regrettable.

“Great,” she said rolling her eyes and turning to one of the men on either side of her. Blew that. But one of her group remained, an unshaven man with long black hair flowing down to his shoulders wearing some probably very expensive trench coat and a white T-shirt with “peace” written across it in rainbow colours.

“Did you see that show with the black guys holding up guns above their heads?” I admitted that I hadn’t. “It was so tasteless. So tasteless,” he repeated with an odd softness in his voice. “Just think what is happening in Africa.” At a loss, I looked around hastily, hoping to catch my date’s eye only to see her engaged in a deep conversation with a photographer.

There was only one thing for it: an escape to the free VIP bar. My new friend nodded vaguely, as I slid off to where streams of sharply-dressed men were walking past security into the bar annex.

“Sir?” asked a thick-necked bouncer.

I flashed my press card, striding past with an inner smile of satisfaction: perhaps this evening was not out of reach quite yet. I made my way to a counter creaking under the weight of a row of shimmering cocktails. I grabbed one of the Mojitos and took a hefty swig.

“Oh, hi!” It was the smug man from before. ‘These cocktails are super,’ he said, putting the delicate glass to his lips radiating vibrancy and tipsy good nature.

“Just great,” I rejoined, already thinking of the group of models huddled in the corner.

It was great to play with the big boys, if only for one night.

Read more of the Gate Crasher’s adventures here.

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