(1311-04-22) What's Love Got To Do With It?
Summary: In which Philomene and Desarae encounter each other in Courtly Couture, the terrifying difference between the numbers one and seven comes to light, and the recent rash of betrothals is discussed.
RL Date: April 22nd, 2019
Related: None.
philomene desarae 

Courtly Couture

Under Isabelle de Valais' ownership, what was once a humble tailor's storefront has been transformed into a temple of high fashion; wooden foundations and walls have been removed and replaced by whitewashed stone. While the tall windows of the original construct have been kept and added upon, the final effects are spectacular - the interior has been inlaid with white marble embellished now and then with veins of different shades of blue, with sturdy stone pillars and beams to support the second floor and all chiseled with geometric designs at the top and bottom. The massive space has been segregated in different sections by the careful layout of tasteful furniture and rugs - all in either black or neutral shades so as not to detract from the myriad of colors on display.

And there is plenty of color - all the basic hues and the hundreds of shades in between; if it exists, Isabelle has managed to find it. Catching the eye upon entering are five beautiful gowns and three ensembles - jackets, trousers and boots for men fitted upon tailor dummies and placed in different sides of the room, each demonstrating different cuts, styles and embroidered patterns, fresh twists incorporated in D'Angeline classics; from plunging necklines, to the square and classic, these are creations that have been made for the elite abroad and the further one goes inside the store, the more variations can be found to reflect the genius fashion designer's travels abroad - silk robes inspired by Eastern fashions, veils and scarves inspired by Akkadian dancers, loose, comfortable drapery and airy confections that call on images from distant Hellas, Courtly Couture isn't just a store, but an actual art gallery of the owner's work.

Further along the main hall are display racks for the actual merchandise for both men and women; tasteful white drawers and glass cases keep dust from the stock, and all filled with beautiful things. Books that showcase fabric swatches, ribbons, leather and lace, catalogued by shade, type and region are displayed on mounted shelves, framing racks full of shirts, skirts, breeches and dresses. Another section is dedicated to an expansive lingerie collection ranging from the demure to the absolutely risque - lace, satin, silk, Menekhetan cotton and leather are all present here. There are two private viewing rooms here, one as pristine white as the rest of the first floor, while the other is painted entirely black. Both are situated with large mirrors and plush seating.%r%rThere is plenty of help. Visible staff are all dressed in crisp, black-and-white uniforms and managed by the former owner and her apprentice. At the back is a winding flight of stairs leading to the second floor, where Isabelle's private office and consultation room is located.

On a lovely warm spring morning like today, it would seem a waste of fine weather and the early morning quiet not to take ones horse out for a good long ride, enjoy the countryside, perhaps stop for a little drink and a snooze, then ride back in with a view over the wide blue sea to the south. Apparently today is therefore a complete write-off, as far from being out on her mare enjoying herself, Philomene de Chalasse is standing, arms crossed belligerently across her chest, in stark argument with the apprentice on duty this morning. "Of course it wasn't for me!" she insists, spitting out the words. "Do I look like I need a frock? More to the point, I'm a damn sight taller than that. Laurene is a woman not a stick, and she couldn't fit that bloody scrap of fabric around her neck, let alone her body!" There is a sheepish question from the apprentice, murmured quietly enough not to be immediately heard from outside the door (unlike Philomene herself, who could be heard from several blocks away if she had a mind to be). The question is greeted with a stunned glare, then a dangerously quiet, "Well, do you think there's any other way she's going to want it? Yes, I want the bloody thing let out. For fuck's sake, who's using the family brain cell today, sweetheart?"

"What is that dreadful noise?" The cut-glass tones of a young woman's voice fall into the silence that follows Philomene's tirade — drifting down the stairs ahead of the slender woman herself. It's unlikely that her remark was actually meant to be heard, but no regret shows on her face as her eyes fall upon the Chalasse vicomtesse and the young apprentice to whom she speaks. Dressed in a lightweight emerald-green gown of silk that steals much of its design from the current fashions in Elua, she trails an entourage of black-and-whate-garbed staff of the salon in her wake, along with a personal maid and a sober-looking Cassiline. She would not make for an imposing figure in and of herself, for having gained the ground floor she stands at a mere five-foot-four in height — and no more. Silver threadwork glitters where embroidery accents the boning of her bodice, and eyes that are mirrored exactly by the shade of the silks she's chosen for today's outing, fall heavily upon Philomene as she approaches the pair. "Is there a problem, my lady? Marguerite?" Her eyes cut to the young apprentice as the question is asked, and familiarity with her is shown in the manner of her address.

"No problem at all," glowers the Chalasse, stormy grey eyes fixed on the unfortunate Marguerite. "This young lady was going to take the handkerchief she'd thought to pass off as a gown and is going to rectify the issue, are you not, young lady." Every word is clipped, the final two punctuated by a flinch backwards by the poor apprentice. Really, she doesn't get paid enough to deal with Philomene when she's got out of bed on the wrong side. But then does anyone? The vicomtesse touches a hand to her chin, cracking her neck noisily, and turns away, the frock and its current holder dismissed in that single movement. Instead, face still set to give night terrors of small children a run for their money, she looks Desarae up and down once, scrutinising every detail like a drill sergeant before a parade.

"I'm afraid that I don't know your name, my lady," Desarae notes. Obviously not one to suffer the night terrors of small children herself, Philomene's scrutiny is met quite equably with one of her own. Clear green eyes stare back at her, even if she has to look up at the other woman from her own reduced stature. The retreating Marguerite is left to retreat, albeit it with an encouraging glance slipped her way before attention settles back upon the vicomtesse. "Let me offer mine. Lady Desarae Mereliot." A tilt of her head, and one of those pauses is taken that simply scream that further is yet to follow. And follow it does. "It was hardly a 'kerchief, my lady, and a finer couturiers simply cannot be found in our city. Was something else amiss with the gown? Or with Marguerite herself, perhaps?" Her head tilts to one side and her hands pleat neatly together as enquiries are made.

Philomène pinches the back of one cuff, tugging it straight within the heavily embroidered but well worn chocolate brown riding jacket she's given to wearing. "It was not suitable for purpose, Lady Desarae," she insists simply, switching to repeat the manoeuvre with her other shirt sleeve. "A misunderstanding with the measurements where a seven was misread as a one, apparently." Cuffs thus fixed, she adjusts her lapels next, then offers one tanned and weathered hand. "Philomene de Chalasse." No title is given with it. Even in the south here, the last name ought to mean something to anyone of breeding, and if they also know of the first name perhaps they might be polite enough to pretend otherwise. "I'm sure her work is very fine, but if it can't be worn then it's no damn use to me, is it?"

<FS3> Desarae rolls Politics: Success. (1 1 5 6 7 6 4 2 3)

"Vicomtesse," Desarae responds, now availed of a name. "The bane of our lives," she continues apace, "misunderstandings, and when they occur. An easily made one however, to mistake a one for a seven, wouldn't you think. I hope very much that the gown was time-dependant for an occasion? I have a little influence here, and can see what might be done if it is? Was the gown for yourself?" Questions upon questions, and the last of them is accompanied with a slow sweep of her eyes over the workaday wear that Philomene favours. "Marguerite's work is very fine, though her stitching might not be quite as straight as it usually is, nor her hand quite as steady. I think you quite scared her."

Vicomtesse the bane of our lives could well be the epitaph for Philomene's grave, it's true. She lifts her chin, stormy grey-blue eyes settling unwavering on the Mereliot. "For my daughter," she admits after a moment to consider if this is some kind of trick question. It's not that she doesn't trust Desarae's intentions as such, it's that she's been caught off guard, she's tired if one judges the dark circles under her eyes to signify that, and she doesn't trust anyone's intentions. "There's a wedding coming up, well, a number of weddings. But who in hell has a ten inch hip measurement? Seriously. If the girl had stopped to bloody think then we wouldn't have had to have that conversation, would we?"

"Dolls." Desarae's response is swift. "Adoring mamans love having outfits made for their daughter's dolls so the pair might match…" Her lips twitch with a smile, though it doesn't quite touch her eyes. "Regardless, I can see that you have been frustrated by it, and yes… so many weddings." A sigh escapes the young heiress, and it's accompanied by a fractional lift of her shoulders towards her ears. "One of my cousins, though not a close one, is to marry quite soon, and then there's the Valliers and the Rousse weddings too." A frown furrows her brow. "I am curious as to why the nephew of the Duc de Valliers is to wed here in Marsilikos and not in Camlach. Most odd. Perhaps he's ill-favoured? But your daughter, you say? Is she not here with you for her fitting?"

"I could check my pockets for her if you don't believe me," Philomene responds drily, then shakes her head. "This was not intended as a fitting, just as a chance to make sure I was happy with the embroidery," she relents. "And in her defence, the embroidery is half decent. It's just that there's only about a seventh of it, because there's only about one seventh of a dress there. Which of your cousins is it? I admit I'm beginning to lose track with all these dreamy eyed youngsters professing undying love to each other all over the place. It's enough to make you want to vomit, I swear."

But a frown still mars the smoothness of that Mereliot brow, until it doesn't as something clickety-clicks into place. "Seventy inch hips?" Even as she's speaking aloud her thoughts, Desarae is binking her surprise, and whilst she can't exactly take those words back, a bite of her lip to clamp her mouth shut prevents anything else from being accidentally spoken. Behind her, whispers are exchanged between the Courtly Couture staff that carry bolts of silks selected by Desarae, and the maid at her side falls foul of a blush. "The vicomte de Toulon," she eventually says once her tongue can be trusted. "Marco Mereliot." A narrowing of her eyes. "He's to marry a halfblood bastard from Khebbel im Akkad. No doubt you heard the announcement."

Philomène just eyes Desarae for a long moment, almost daring her to make some further comment on the size of Laurene's hips. It's a somewhat tense silence until the name of the cousin is given to break it. The Vicomtesse snorts. "See, this is what happens when they arrange marriages for 'love', and follow blindly along with whatever infatuation the young gentleman or lady has this month. I'm sure she's very pretty, and I don't doubt there's some kind of exotic allure to the whole thing, but what the bloody hell use is that for improving the family? Might as well marry a bloody tailor's apprentice. At least you'd get decent clothes out of it."

Thankfully, Desarae doesn't say anything further regarding Laurene's hips, though there's a glaze to her eyes as she disentangles her fingers to lift her hands palms uppermost in response to the subject of marriage and love. "My cousin's marriage is a political match, and I'm not entirely sure that he even met the woman before it was decided upon. But yes. Marriage for love…" A flattening of her mouth and a tightness to her voice. "It is as if there's a frenzy for that. Perhaps we are just now seeing the results of what marrying in foreigners does to our blood. It's a folly, and not one I claim to understand, nor is it something that I could or would entertain for myself."

Philomène's lips curve upward into a slight smile. "And we're awful people for pointing this out to them," she agrees, folding her hands behind her back. "We're determined to ruin their lives, apparently, and have no damn heart of our own. Romance is all very well, dear, go ahead, take a lover, take three, but marry sensibly for fuck's sake."

"I shall continue to point it out, whether thought awful or not," Desarae remarks sourly. "Another cousin of mine, Lady Ailene Trevalion, declared herself to be in love with the heir to Châteaugiron, Lord Thibault Charlot. She was entirely unsuited to such a match, even with Kusheline preferences making it even less so." Slim arms wrap an even slimmer waist, and her mouth settles in the smallest of moues. But not for long. A throat is cleared behind her, and her cassiline bends to murmur something to her ear. A reminder, perhaps, of the reason for their visit today, even were the bolts of cloth and the hovering salespeople not enough. Her pout become a wry smile. "But I do hope your daughter's gown is finished in good time. If you will excuse me, I have some of my own to get ordered. I am determined to look respectable at the shackling of my cousin."

Philomène gives the woman a polite nod to this. "Good day, Lady Desarae, and best of luck to you." With that, she finally turns on one heel to make her way out, her distinctive limp becoming apparent the moment she steps off, toes skimming the ground in a broad semicircle with every step even if she still holds her head high and her shoulders back.

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