Arnaz was flustered to say the least. In two hours he would either be a rising star or another failed disciple at the altar of fine couture; another "never was." His debut on the world stage was but 90 minutes from commencing and when it did, everyone that mattered would be viewing his collection. The fashion writers of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, and L'Officiel, among others, would be touting his genius or advertising his imminent departure from relevance. He had but one chance to begin ascendency in the world of high fashion, and that chance was almost upon him.
He had planned his show with meticulous precision and surrounded himself with the best talent available. Every model had been carefully selected from the "A" list. His assistants were all seasoned professionals that were highly sought after. The stylists, manicurists, and makeup artists were veterans of Milan, Paris, Roma, and London. His staff was elite and would not be his downfall. Success or failure rested solely on his ability as a designer. Nothing had been left to chance.
But chance had a way of sneaking in the back door when nobody was watching. He had planned for every possible disaster. He had duplicates of every outfit stored in his workshop in case of fire or theft. He had a replacement of the same height and weight for every model in the event one fell sick, was in an accident, or kidnapped by passing space aliens. He had extra stylists and cosmeticians on call, he had two caterers bringing food in case one was late or made a mistake on his order. Nothing could possibly happen that he had not prepared for. Well, almost nothing...
It was almost statistically impossible that on the same day and in the same city, in another show, in another hotel, the signature outfit of another designer was identical to his signature piece. It had the same cut, the same colour, and the same fabrics, carefully assembled in the same way. It had even been worn by the exact same model that was to wear it in his show. He knew that the design had not been stolen, for Karl Lagerfeld, the head designer for Chanel, didn't need to steal a design. It was simply a total, complete, and uncanny coincidence. Both he and Lagerfeld had somehow seen the same emerging trends and interpreted those trends identically to produce virtual carbon copies of the same gown.
It wasn't Lagerfeld that irked him, or even that somehow they had come up with the same design. What was really frustrating him was that Milla Jovovich, the current reigning supermodel, had worn both gowns in pre-show fittings and not said a word. She knew that she was going to walk down the runway in an exact replica of Lagerfeld's just 2 hours later and make a laughing stock out of Arnaz Dante. She had carefully hidden any knowledge of the similarity between the two dresses from his entire staff. They had been stunned to watch the pay-per-view broadcast of Chanel's fall collection and see Milla, glide down the runway, arm in arm with Karl, looking exactly like she was going to look in the debut of the Dante Collection.
He was ruined. In a bit over two hours he was going to be the subject of ridicule across the world. "The man who thought he was Karl Lagerfeld" - he could see the headlines now. From Tokyo to Timbuktu he would forever be known as an unoriginal fraud with the audacity to flaunt his lack of talent on the world stage.. There was nothing he could do except remove the outfit from the show and everything that even remotely seemed like it could have been in the Chanel collection. He was going to have to abandon two years of creative effort and display half a collection of lesser pieces. It was either that, or be labelled as a cheap knock-off artist.
With nothing to do but to slice and dice his collection, he went to the room he was using as his office to begin deciding what to discard. But first, as he found privacy and solitude, all he could do was to sit down and sob. He dropped into the big leather couch beneath the window, curled up in the old quilt he had been sleeping with for the past week, and began to cry. Fate had smiled upon him and he wasn't going to smile back. A show without a stunningly unique signature piece as the finale was unheard of and would say just as much about his lack of talent as would displaying a previously shown gown.
As the bitter salty tears ran down his cheeks, he looked out the window to watch the well-dressed Parisian women strolling down the Champs D'Elysees. Women, whom in the years ahead, would not be wearing a Dante original. Women for whom Arnaz Dante would mean as much as Elmer Thigpen or Bruno Buscemi -- the previous two upcoming flops of the fashion circuit. It was impossible to recover from this disaster. How could he come up with a dress to rival the darling of the fashion world in under two hours, with almost nothing to work with? As he pondered his tragedy, he pulled the old worn quilt around him and felt vaguely comforted by its familiarity. It was the quilt his great-grandmother had made during the second world war and it had been in his family for 4 generations now. It would pass on to his sister's daughter one day since he had no children of his own. Unless ...
There was no reason to live now. He had gambled everything and he had been cheated by a cruel twist of fate. Reaching for the scissors that were always on his desk, he started to cut into the quilt. It was thick and strong, and when cut into strips would hold his weight. They would find him during the show he suspected, suspended by the neck from his office chandelier. This was not what he had imagined today would be like, but it was better than the alternative. His suicide would ensure that his name was remembered as something other than as a synonym for failure. He took one last look at the street before resuming his grim task and saw Gisele Bundchen enter the hotel. At 8 months pregnant, she was reduced to the role of spectator for this season's shows. He had always imagined her wearing one of his creations, but now, that was an impossibility. With renewed intensity he cut into the soft worn fabric of the quilt.
Fashion Desk, Vogue, Paris, 24.08.11: It is with astonishment that this writer pens this column. Arnaz Dante, in his debut showing stunned the fashion world today. With an uncharacteristic poise for an up and coming designer, Dante remained cloistered in his office for the entire show, leaving the event in the hands of his more than capable staff. For 60 minutes, the creme of the couture industry watched in amazement as his magnificent style was revealed to the world. But throughout the revelation of his talent, he was nowhere to be seen. Then, as the show was about to close, Dante emerged from his office and escorted a glowing Gisele Bundchen to center stage. Wearing a patchwork dress that merged elements of yesteryear with modern flowing lines, a very pregnant Bundchen displayed the essence of femininity in a wearable, eye-catching, and daring style. Blending timeless tradition with motherhood, in a form that showed hints of Chanel's edginess, Dante has demonstrated that he has what it takes to be the best of his generation. Karl Lagerfeld, look out! Your replacement has arrived and his name is Arnaz Dante.