Friday, September 07, 2012

Fashion Cents

The other day, I came home to find Amanda buried behind what looked like a phonebook.
            “I am not reading a phonebook, you great big doofus!” Amanda said, her voice slightly muffled by the sheer thickness of the book. “It’s the September issue of Vogue!”
            “How can that be a magazine? It’s the size of a bathtub!”
            “It’s 916 pages! Pound for pound, it’s better value than a plate of char kway teow!”
            That’s the thing about life. Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, along comes the September issue of Vogue. And someone like Amanda who has somehow linked, in a completely logical way, print media with the consumer price index and hawker food.
            When Amanda isn’t using it for bicep curls, the magazine sits on the dining table and every time we pass it, we stop for a second to flip through a few pages. Saffy says it’s a work of art.
            “Where does the actual magazine start?” she said the other day, her eyes wide with wonder. “I’m nearly a third of the way through and it’s all still ads!”
            Amanda’s voice sailed out from the bathroom. “Page 264 is Anna Wintour’s editor’s letter!”
            Saffy says the ads are the best part of the issue. It’s literally hundreds and hundreds of pages of beautiful people in beautiful locations, wearing beautiful clothes and carrying beautiful bags while wearing beautiful make-up and jewellry.
            “I want to live in a world where there are people like this,” she said, her eyes shining as she pointed to a girl sitting at the foot of Ewan MacGregor.
            Leave it to Sharyn to bring everyone crashing back to earth. “Aiyoh!” she said, in her high octane squeak, “where got people like that, one? In Singapore, some more?! And then, hor, you wear a low cut dress like that in pah-blic, you confirm go to jail, one, I tell you!”
            “You are such a downer, Sharyn!” Saffy puffed.
            Sharyn beamed. “Thank you!”
            Until I moved in with the girls, I’d never really paid much attention to fashion, let alone magazines like Vogue. But when I look at the three centimeter thick September issue, all I can think of is how many trees died to produce it.
            “It’s criminal!” I said sternly.
            “Yeah, whatever,” Amanda said as she slowly flipped the page. “Ooh, I love this blouse! How much is it?” She peered at the tiny caption next to the picture. “Hmm, $1,900. That’s not bad.”
            Saffy shrieked. “For a blouse?”
            “It’s Céline!” Amanda said in the tone of voice you normally only hear when a saint announces she’s talking to God.
            Saffy grabbed the magazine and grunted as she hoisted it to eye level. “And those pants cost $1,550. So for this simple black and white outfit, it’s costing $3,500?”
            “US dollars,” I added.
            “And you’re saying that’s not bad? Are you mad?!” Saffy said looking at Amanda.
            To her credit, Amanda stayed on message. She looked genuinely perplexed. “But it’s Céline. How much do you expect it to cost?”
            Saffy said she’ll never understand it, even as she continued to flip through the ads, stopping every now and then to admire some fur-trimmed boots (Jimmy Choo), a male model (Tommy Hilfiger) or a dress (Etro). “Thank God for these free perfume strips!” she said as she peeled open Lancôme’s new ‘La vie est belle’ fragrance sample. She stared at the picture of Julia Roberts as she smeared the strip on her wrist. “Do you think Julia actually wears this perfume? And look how perfect her teeth are! I don’t know anybody with teeth like that, do you?”
            Amanda says whenever she’s unhappy, she just picks up a copy of Vogue and, in no time at all, she’s convinced that in a world filled with Valentino, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cover Girl and Yves Saint Laurent, life can’t actually that bad after all. “Look at this Tom Ford dress,” she said, pointing at a red gown that Saffy interrupted to say that Gwyneth (Saffy is on first names basis with all of Hollywood) had worn to the Oscars, “it’s just the most beautiful thing. Nothing bad can happen when you wear something this beautiful. How could it? Everything is just so beautiful and perfect in this world. You know?”
            Sharyn says that only people with no children, no mortgage and no deadbeat husband would ever talk like this. “Some time, hor, I so tired I wear the same tee-shirt all day and next day!”
            Amanda says she’s giving Sharyn a year’s subscription to Vogue for Christmas. Sharyn says she’d rather Amanda gave her the cash. 

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