By Mia Arderne
Model A: You look you so good.
Model B: No, you look so good.
Model A: No really, but you look good.
I’m in the front row of the Cosmopolitan Magazine Lingerie Fashion Show in Cape Town’s Canal Walk, trying to find a snippet of interesting conversation. This proves a challenge. The free booze is a piss-with-blood shade of red. A dash of Skyy Vodka (the sponsor) mixed with an energy drink that tastes like a poorly blended rip-off of Red Bull.
Actresses, models, artistic directors, photographers, musicians and comedians are in the mix. South African celebrities include Alex McGregor, Siv Ngesi and Jimmy Nevis. The crowd suffers a desperate collective need to impress. The long white catwalk before me is still bare. The long white catwalk of superior beauty beams bright. Holding my judgement in my throat like an avalanche of sick, I observe my fellow spectators:
‘She looked great by the way.’
The flamboyant dandy to my right strokes his carefully sculpted goatee.
A blonde sits stiff in her second skin jeans
‘Like when she walked in. Didn’t she just look great?’
The blonde hesitates to answer. Her face is covered in a layer of base so thick that if I even lightly scratched it I’d have a clump of powder beneath my nail.
‘I saw. She did.’
Another pause from the blonde.
‘I want this to start already’
The dandy has no make-up on. His Prince of Persia features don’t need it. Thin skin over delicate cartilage, perfect complexion, no powered base needed here.
‘Yeah, me too. I wish it would start on time. Like it hasn’t for the last eight years.’
His delicate fingers curl around his pearly white iPhone. He checks the time. The blonde’s hand is firmly at her side, glued to her thigh.
‘I know, what was the last one – Victoria’s Secret? Remember how late that started?’
Her blonde hair falls into her face, picking up some of the excess powder.
‘Remember that year they were wearing tops and speedos?’
The dandy talks with his wrists, tiny wrists waving through the air. He speaks with a slant in his tongue, words slipping out like they’re not worth the motion of his mouth.
‘Yeah that was a little rough hey, I don’t think anyone should be wearing that.’
The blonde’s tone is nasal, disingenuous. She’s caught off-guard when the dandy launches in and asks her the million-dollar question,
‘Why aren’t you up on stage, huh?’
His nimble fingers are still clutching and flipping his iPhone. She looks down at his hips, his thighs. His hips and thighs are narrower than hers. His question twists her stony features into a tight clench.
‘Well, you know, once you retire…’
She waves her hand in an over-exaggerated flick that fails to match the dandy’s effortless flamboyance. The smoke machine starts blasting clouds of opaque white onto the catwalk. He flutters his eyelids and gently swipes at his brow.
‘This is gonna hurt my eyes so much.’
‘See you after the show.’
Kiss–kiss, one on either cheek and he’s gone. The blonde was just a stop on his series of hug-hug kiss-kiss hey-dahling greetings. He repeats the same procedure on another six people in the front row.
I zone out and watch the line of starving giraffe-proportioned models walk, hypnotized by the flash at the end of the runway. As each long-legged beauty makes its way back and fourth, the crowd claps. I seem to have forgotten how to clap for people walking.