(1310-10-17) Masquerade
Summary: A long day of preparation becomes even moreso when Isabelle's cousins visit the lady while in the midst of her preparations to sail for Kriti in an attempt secure a commission for an important family event.
RL Date: October 20, 2018
Related: Takes place directly after this one.
isabelle arterre trinette 

Loft Salon - Courtly Couture

While the downstairs looks like a gleaming white gallery in which fabric functions as paint, the upstairs of Courtly Couture is dominated by Isabelle's personal office and salon, and it has been designed to look like a lavish sitting room and study. Hardwood floors of a rich, dark color have been installed throughout and decorated with fine rugs, and set with a stone fireplace that pumps heat through the entire building for the comfort of the owner and her staff in Eisande's colder months. The actual sitting area is tastefully furnished with plush furniture and mirrors and towards the windows overlooking Market Promenade and Marsilikos' cityscape is a large mahogany desk, arranged with parchment, writing tools and a few books.

There are shelves everywhere and books in various subjects could be found within them, mostly about art and color theory, but others such as treatises on other countries and cultures find a comfortable home with the rest. The large windows are framed with layered drapery, from translucent to full block-out curtains depending on the owner's mood. A large, comfortable chair is placed behind the desk as well as a small bar on the far side, set with various bottles of wine and liquor, and gleaming with crystal decanters. Framed maps and group portraits and sketches fill the walls of the space - things that do not just chart Isabelle's travels, but also the people who have become longtime patrons. Some of these faces are familiar, for those who have traveled themselves - most of her patrons overseas make up the nobility and aristocratic elite of other countries.

Arterre has arranged for a meeting between himself, Isabelle, and Trinette— ever so conveniently volunteering Isabelle's shop for the purpose. It was no small feat getting everyone in the room at the same time, him and Isabelle seeming perpetually busy with this, that, or the other thing. But here they are, finally. And there's a particular matter on the agenda. "Right," he tells his cousin, younger sister nearby. "Trinette has made a rather sensible suggestion for her coming-of-age party— she wants it here in the city, and she wants it to be a masquerade. I don't see any reason why I couldn't get it done for her. There's just one small problem. I'm absolutely hopeless at planning anything, parties least of all, and I definitely wouldn't know where to source masks and outfits." He tells Isabelle, "That is where we were hoping you might come in. I'd expect her event will bring no small amount of attention, and thought that you could profit by it…if you were willing to help out just a wee bit on the planning side."

Trinette seems to come dashing in as she says, "Sorry I am late, I got um… tied up with something." More than likely she lost track flirting with someone! After a moment, she catches her breathe and says, "I scheduled to meet with Courtesan Cochonnet about planning the party. Also I think I know what I want my mask and gown to look like too. I want to be a fairy, wings and all. Plllease." She pleads at the end as she slips into an open seat.

It is only with some reluctance that she parted company with her good friend and patron, Jehan-Pascal de Baphinol, in favor of returning to Courtly Couture to handle some last minute items of business before her departure.

Her cousins would find this gleaming white gallery devoted to high fashion in a state of frenetic activity, and to Arterre, who has been haunting its confines regularly since his favorite person's return to Terre d'Ange a few months ago, it is at an unusually high level. Orders and parcels are being carried out, new shipments being delivered in, and Isabelle's army of black-and-white liveried staff are presently overseeing the needs of various patrons. Guillermo Torres, her right-hand man, is in the middle of the maelstrom, quietly dispensing orders, though at the sight of the Valais brood, he breaks away to stride towards them and, after the most perfunctory of greetings, shows them upstairs to where the general of this sartorial army is presently busy managing the paperwork on her desk.

Gustav, her young page, is busily handing out heated towels and once Arterre and Trinette have been seated, and whatever they want to drink poured into fine crystal. Isabelle, herself, is by her desk, listening to her cousin while she shuffles another packet of parchment over to Guillermo, who looks them over and proceeds to vacate the salon with it. Tall, svelte, she is dressed in her usual business attire - an embroidered waistcoat, fitted black breeches, boots that go over the knee and with heels thin enough to puncture through a body, and a tailored coat with tails that extend down to her ankles, weighed down by crystal embellishments and fringed with lace.

"Mademoiselle Cochonnet is a master in organizing themed events," she says to her young, female cousin, finally, striding over to her bar to pick up something potent from its surface, pouring it in her tumbler and lifting it up. "She puts a tremenduous amount of research and effort in planning and execution and I would advise you to express your gratitude emphatically on that end. You can always trust her judgment and taste. As for the masks, that is easily handled, though it certainly depends on what style you favor. I have a master mask maker on retainer in Elua, he specializes in the d'Angeline tradition, though if you want him to handle your gala, we would have to get in touch with him as soon as possible as I expect he'll already be completely booked in the next few weeks with the Longest Night just around the corner. If you favor the more elaborate Caerdicci styles, I would have to send word to my supplier in La Serenissima."

Arterre, for his part, has foregone any drink, but he does avail himself of the towel; he seems surprised to find such service on offer, given the frenetic pace everywhere else in the shop. He has a certain gravity about him that seems a bit of a put-on, given his youth, as if he wants to be seen taking this Very Seriously. One imagines he doesn't want his little sister to think him a slouch in the matter. "In terms of style, I suppose it is only appropriate that I defer to Trinette herself— this is to be her fantasia, not mine." He finishes wiping his hands and sets the cloth aside. "Whichever the case, I'm sure I'm equally amenable." He glances at the younger blonde beside him.

Trinette almost bounces with excitement in her chair as she says, "I not mind the more elaborate Caerdicci styles for the party. I just want to make sure mine stands out a bit more than the others, well a lot more since it is my party after all. And I am very excited to my Mademoiselle Cochonnet. What questions might your supplier have about the masks? I want mine as a half mask if that is possible and as I said ever so elaborate. And I wasn't sure exactly what theme to make the masquerade other than it being one really." She laughs softly with a hint of a blush echoing her cheeks.

"I have a suggestion," Isabelle says, finally taking a seat with her cousins with her glass of brandy, long legs crossing by the knee. She leans back, closing her eyes for a moment - the only thing that indicates her present state of exhaustion - before opening again to regard Trinette. "You intend to be a fairy in the gala, correct? Fae spirits, from what I recall of my admittedly scant expertise in folkore, tend to be otherworldly creatures often drawn to the mortal realm in search of wonder and mischief. But they look remarkably different from people, they do not belong in the world that we know. Why not have your guests wear the d'Angeline masks, keep them beautiful but relatively uniform, and you can wear the most elaborate one done in the traditions of La Serenissima to push the fantasy forward?"

"It's your night, after all," Arterre reiterates to Trinette. He has second thoughts on the drink, and gestures for Isabelle's man to fetch him something—anything. There's a bit of silent pantomime back and forth between the two that ends in theatrical shrugs on both sides. Evidently the Vicomte is trying not to speak over the ladies present. In the end, the drink arrives, and he sips happily. "It's only fitting you would be the brightest, most striking person in the room. I think Isabelle's suggestion has merit." He swallows again, seeming uncommonly agreeable, all things considered.

Trinette oohs excitedly and responds to Isabelle, "I do indeed like that idea, very muchly. I do indeed wish to push the fantasy forward." She looks to Arterre with an appreciative smile before she looks back to Isabelle as she asks, "Do you already have an idea for the design of the dress? I want something utterly eye-catching and gossip-worthy. And I not mind if it be revealing."

"You might not mind, but your brother might," Isabelle remarks, something both humored and a touch exasperated tilting up the corners of her mouth, giving an emphatic, sidelong look towards Arterre, a single brow lifting faintly in inquiry as to his thoughts on the matter. "It may be your night, little one, and d'Angelines are as ever free with their bodies, but I know for a fact that your older brother is trying to establish himself as a credible ruler despite his age. As his younger sister, you are his mirror socially. It's certainly not beyond my abilities to design something that is both sensual and tasteful, but in that specific issue, I advise that you defer to dear Arterre's opinion."

"I think in this matter it would be best to tend towards elegance than a more tawdry kind of scandal," Arterre says, after a long pause. He is distinctly uncomfortable in this role, his fingers opening and closing before settling hands atop one another. "It is one thing to make a splash with boldness— another thing for people to believe the boldness cheap. I believe I agree with your mother in that the truly gossip-worthy activities are best done with discretion. Everyone's eyes will be on you already, here— do you need to do anything more to make them pay attention to you than simply having them show up? Consider that. I'm not saying to be as prude as a Yeshuite, but, you know. A little reserve creates mystery, and mystery creates interest."

Trinette giggles at Isabelle's words about Arterre minding and sits back as she listens to each of their responses. She softly bites upon her bottom lip and her cheeks flush a bit more as she murmurs, "That is a good point upon both aspects. Perhaps then something that is revealing but just slightly? Like form fitting can be revealing but still modest and create mystery right? Not all over form fitting just maybe along the torso and to my hips? Or would still be too much?"

Those eagle eyes miss nothing; at her favorite cousin's clear discomfiture, Isabelle reaches out to rest her fingertips gently on his restless fingers, though she doesn't look at him. Instead, her attention is focused on Trinette and her subsequent remarks has her taking a quiet sip of her brandy, and gesturing for her tow-headed page. "Gustav, my portfolio, please."

Thus retrieved, she flips it open on her lap and withdraws the stylus within from its pocket, drawing a set of clean lines on parchment - a faceless female figure, but with close approximations of Trinette's build. The design comes to life so quickly that Isabelle makes it appear downright effortless - unsurprising in that the young woman has always been considered a prodigy, designing for her family ever since she was a much younger girl. Sweeping gestures of her hand construct a sweetheart neckline and a fitted bodice, with a free-flowing skirt that extends all the way to the floor, a decorative textured effect achieved by various layers of silk and organza, notes of which are described on the margin. The bodice has a specific pattern, where embroidery would go, swirling over the bust and following the taper of the waist. The collar is separated, fashioned into a shallow 'v' in between the collarbones, with a single crystal hanging from the point. The shoulder caps are also separated, but attached to the rest of the ensemble with fine chains decorated with smaller crystals, threading across skin just underneath the collarbones, and draped over the curves of her shoulders. There are wings, of course, intricate butterfly wings with exaggeratedly long tails, with notes to create them from shimmering, iridescent materials.

The couturiere pauses from her sketching, and then adds bridal gauntlets that hook in the middle fingers of each hand and extend past the elbows.

She presents the sketch to Trinette. "Fitted on the bodice, the back can be corsetted to accentuate your decolletage and the neckline is designed to achieve the effect. I would suggest keeping your hair up to make the most of the frame your throat and shoulders make in the outfit and to take advantage of the more sensual aspects of the design. With the mask, it should heighten the mystery and facilitate the allure you need. What do you think?"

Trinette nods softly and says, "I think that would be perfect. I just have to figure out how exactly to put up my hair, maybe acquire some jewelled hairpins that would match the outfit." Her eyes dancing over the sketch with a smile as her fingertips hover but not touch the pages. She inquires, "What color scheme might you be thinking of?"

"Anything but black, white, orange, yellow and brown," Isabelle replies instantly. "There are numerous black and white events already this season, and neither color speaks 'fantasia'. You're fair everywhere my dear, yellow will only clash with the pink undertones of your skin and we're in the middle of Fall. The last thing you want to remind anyone in your coming of age party, in which you are the blossom of the moment, is that the season of decay is upon us shortly, so brown is out of the question. Normally I would recommend a shade of red, but that wouldn't do the color of your eyes justice. I would therefore, instead, suggest a naiad palette - different shades of blue ranging from the darkest to the lightest, with those in the lighter side of the spectrum done sparingly, with a touch of violet and white."

<FS3> Arterre rolls Fashion: Great Success. (1 3 1 8 7 6 8 2 7)

Arterre, by some small miracle, seems to be following along with this quite closely. All the time in Isabelle's company must have been good for something, at least. He's just been keeping his mouth shut, nursemaiding his wine, until all of it's gone. He sets it down, and leans over to look at the sketch. "I would suggest something in darkest blue, with accents of aquamarine," he says, after giving Isabelle's spiel a thoughtful consideration. "A gradient, of sorts, with fabric. I am not sure about the violet, but a flash of white would not go amiss. But then, that all comes down to personal taste in the end, doesn't it? I'd listen to your cousin about what colors match your complexion. She has to deal with any number of clients, and she knows what she's talking about. She's never steered me wrong, anyway."

Trinette eyes light up at the mention of the palette and she excitedly responds, "Oh I do love the idea of that, I think it would look amazing. Perhaps a way to layer the fabric so it shift from color to color? Yes a gradient… I couldn't remember the word for a moment." She almost bouncing in her seat as she is envisioning the dress.

"Grand." Isabelle tucks the sketch carefully in the portfolio after making a few sets of copious notes on the page. "Then it's settled. I trust that I needn't spare any expense? I'll send the breakdown and itemization of fabric and estimated costs to your chamberlain, cousin." The last to Arterre, being the big brother and the present financier of this venture. "It will take about a few weeks, closer to a month. I won't be here to oversee its construction, unfortunately, but the head of my team of seamstresses, Colette, knows my mind well and I will place her personally in charge of the endeavor. She is seeing to the preparations for a new gown for our cousin, Fleur, already, so she is well versed with commissions from my own House. As it stands, the two of you have managed to catch me just before I sail off to Kriti for an annual meeting with my suppliers based in that region of the world, and one that I can't miss."

"For her, we will go with top quality. One only comes of age the one time, after all. Send it to the chamberlain, or to Laurent, since he'll probably be the one tutting about it anyway, and how I should have spent it on new plows or a windmill or something." Arterre is evidently less than concerned about the progress of agriculture than he is about dresses, in this case. "I trust your people will see it done well, even if you only give them the most rudimentary design. It's always a shame that you're coming and going— I look forward to hearing all about your mercantile adventure, when you get back." He touches a hand to Trinette's shoulder, as she is distracted by…something…perharps seamstresses looking for current measurements. "And while I don't mean to speak for her, I am sure she'll be only too pleased with whatever you come up with."

In that, there is an almost dramatic and airy sigh. "It can't be helped," Isabelle says, waving a hand imperiously, as if physically warding away the inconvenience. "Wealth requires work, and since wealth is the foundation in which I've built my independence from the machinations of our ambitious clan, it must thus be fortified, on occasion, by personal sacrifices on my part. Not that I'm complaining, really. Phaistos is beautiful this time of year and I am looking forward to seeing it again, but the waters? Not so much. The seas are rough in Autumn, but who am I to balk at a challenge?"

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