In an ugly world

Rochelle thought to herself, how ugly everything passing outside the windows on the street was at that very moment, as she peered out onto what many people would have thought to be one of the most scenic sky lines in the world.   Then again, she thought that fairly often.  It was not the backdrop, but the people that inhabited it that mystified and offended her so very often.  Her tone mumbling and with no one else to hear “For god’s sake why were people so foolish, so petty, so blind to beauty and what it could do for everyone”  the thought was that most people remained in at least her mind in the darkest ages of dress mankind had ever known.   The world with rare exception was much better viewed at a distance.  It was best seen as an abstract where the lines and colors blended gracefully into one and other like a beautiful collage where no one detail took precedent over another but was a feat for the eyes none the less.


She sat in her condo high above the world contemplating the things that were to come that day, things that should have concerned her, things that she should be looking forward to but ambivalence to anything of such stature was all that could be found.  Instead, she obsessed about the depth of her deep dark eyes, the softness of her feet, and other things that perplexed her like a book given as a gift from one of her dearest friends,  “the Complete Book of Running”.  Rochelle and her companions were so often on the front edge of things, their trends would end before the rest of the world would begin them, this trend was one of those but she could not see the forest for the proverbial trees as she stared out onto the park off in the distance.  She pondered with all of her intellectual prowess and to date, uselessly sharpened mind if there was a there a hidden message in there for her as she pawed at the first few pages.  It seemed perhaps even a little too preoccupied with the entire running thing.   That was in her mind best left to men who were paid to do so and poor country children that lacked other means of transportation and entertainment.


It was a shallow world that she inhabited, but she studiously spent her life knowing every inch and grain of sand in the small pond  that was her habitat and changed quickly with it as the currents would shift.  She would tell you after all that she had in fact chosen her world and while she believed that in her heart to be one of the purest facts it was the biggest lie anyone could tell themselves.  She had not chosen her world any more than she had chosen to be conceived.   She had not created anything in it, she was simply one of those things that was a dot on the abstract that is life, a dot with exceptional grace, beauty and mind but a dot none the less.  The world she lived in and had committed herself to with an unwavering purity had chosen her and done so from a very young age.


“Am I getting fat?” she pondered with delight now standing nude in a dressing area lined with mirrors that alone was larger than most apartments found in the city.  “Of course I’m not” as she looked back at her own reflection it was as perfect as a naked human specimen could be.  Her modest chest with taught breasts, led across a smooth stomach to her petite waist, which of course gave way to her sensuous hips.  She was woman that men would die for in her physical beauty alone although she had so often so much more to offer.  Her honesty, her commitment to something she believed in and of a genuine caring nature, at least if she deemed you worthy of her time.




The day passed and she made her way to meet friends.  It was one of those previously mentioned events that typically would be a high point in a day not filled with very many low points, still today this was just another thing that must be done.


The two old men sat to her left, one eating a baked spinach knishes and the other hot pastrami on warm rye.  Each one adorned in their own ill-fitting, off the rack, garments made of questionable synthetics at best were the perfect example of what so often troubled her.  “It is a travesty and atrocity beyond compare”  She blurted out to her table filled with other impossibly thin, vaguely sober, and equally ungrounded friends at Ben’s Kosher on 7th not far from the garment district.  It was a time when models, designers and anyone who could be associated with the fashion business frequented the art deco laced eatery.  It was in the fashion world as much of an Icon as the hot spots of any era.  It was littered with agency types, up and comers, models, photographers and magazine people.  It was a place to be seen, the midtown fashion world equivalent of the best country and private clubs for the Wall Street set.


There in the contrived elegance and fake schmaltz, serious, perhaps even life altering conversations were afoot as Rochelle and her friends picked at their food much like they picked at the surrounding worlds obvious and often obscene imperfections.   Each and every time she went out in public she considered it to an appearance, not the kind you’d find on page six that was for movie stars and wanna be’s but the mere fact that she was gracing the world with her silhouette, her panache, and her knowledge that by just being there she was making the world not only a prettier place but a better one as well.


Once, not so long ago, a soon to be former friend asked her if she had married into money.  After all, her upper east side lifestyle was akin to that sort of thing.  It was for most part neither uncommon or shameful. In disgust Rochelle replied that “Marrying into money is nothing more than prostitution, the ugly things you would have to do for the lifestyle were hardly worth it.”  Her tone now acusatory itself finished with, ” My money and life came to me the only decent way it could have….Inheritance!”   Not long after that, the Long Island born acquaintance who innocently ask the question but had in fact married her money was cast aside as any unwanted mutated orphan might be by trite soulless people.  Perhaps held in even lower regard than the same penniless people Rochelle had so often passed on the street quickly and in utter disgust.




There was afoot the notion, and some of her friends even the most refined ones were beginning to accept if not embrace it, that the truly Couture could be produced outside of not only Paris, but France.  To Rochelle, who considered anything not completely created in Paris a mockery and a shamble of rags, sat there on the edge of her chair shaking in disgust at such a thing.  Before her sat her usually well informed and educated peers but how could they suggest this?  Milan for all its fine tailors, its exotic and quality swaths of fabric produced impeccable garments, but to refer to anything as Couture was unthinkable.


She argued with logic that Yves Saint Laurent qualified, that they carried the seal needed.  They followed the strict guidelines and standards.  The others just rolled their eyes.   Rochelle who was a purist in the purist sense of the word was not willing to wavier.    She has horrid memories of a home in a pastured wasteland as a small child in Westchester.  It is covered with sprawling lawns and an affluent suburban set which is mere miles from Manhattan, 30 minutes by train.  Yet it might as well have been in the middle of South Dakota to this very day as far as she was concerned.  Fortunately she was rescued from a life that consisted of green grass, room to run, to play and puddles to splash in when it rained that weren’t lined with asphalt.  Her mother who felt equally isolated there moved the family back into the city before she was old enough to start school.


As the debate raged on, she recalled all too fondly her first trip to Paris in her late teens accompanied by an overly domineering mother to Channel’s Paris location.  She felt alive there, like a child filled with awe and wonder, to be standing in that great house.   The fittings, the energy of the staff,  the absolute precision.  It was then that she realized that it was a language and world all its own.  Ever since, she had traveled there at least once and often twice a year for new additions, she was awaiting her latest Nina Ricci.


The nights at the Lincoln, and all that that often meant, with pomp and posture attended with other well heeled individuals.   She was so often not just a face in the fashion crowd, she was known in the inner most circles.  She was considered an authority, an expert on such things and despite often wondering the streets of both NY and Paris, a fixture at runway shows often as the personal guest of the most renowned designers she was never complementary and polite just for the sake of being so.  Their works were what mattered and achieved accolades only if she felt they warranted it.   Yet somewhere in the distance something was eating at her, that unspoken something that had been a distraction all day, the hours of conversation were merely a way to pass the hours before she had to make her way toward the inevitable.</p>




The thoughts perplexed her as she made her way back up town.  Standing again in her dressing room with wine in hand as afternoon slowly gave way to evening and her most pressing engagement of the day. Again she stood naked in front of those mirrors pondering what to wear, carefully assessing her options and her collection.  Nothing seemed quite right and then at that very moment she noticed it, it had been there all of her life, an imperfection that shook her to her core, the one thing that not all the clothes in the world could hide, the ethnicity of her face and hair.  More so, that damn round face.


The bell rang and she slipped into her robe to answer it.  The box of all boxes was in the hands of the door man.  She thanked him emphatically.  Her mood lifted, all of her problems vanished.  The gentleman who rarely thought much of anything his wards received did know her well enough to understand her joy of seeing him with such a plain brown box.


Quickly she fixed her hair, and perfected what she could on the round face and obvious nose.  Her pale skin rosed with the softest shade of pink, her lips pouted demurely with a wicked smile, her eyes darker and deeper than they had ever been from her sense of satisfaction.

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Moments later taking the elevator down she moved purposefully toward the already open and waiting door.  She crossed the street and made her way into the park each stride bringing her a greater sense of satisfaction, her face still round, her hair covered  as she walked like all the world was watching so strong so confident and then the  thought she had been suppressing all day crossed her mind.  “Let’s see the bitch out dress me now.”  She smiled and then took an appropriately somber face.   After all, she thought “She’s dead.  It’s not like she can go change, all she has left to do is rot.”   And that is how Rochelle paid her last respects to her mother.   By whispering into her ear, “This time it is you that is horridly dressed.”