< — The Capital’s High Society– > (6)
TN:_へ__(‾◡◝ )> BONUS RELEASE 2. I do want to apologize for failing to get these all out this month. I’ve been both busy and sick. Anyways, triple release. TADA.
Antoine arrived at the ducal residence with two assistants and several workers. She ordered the workers to neatly display the sample dresses, hats and shoes that she brought along with her in the receiving room.
It was a usual task so they worked very cooperatively and in the blink of an eye, the atmosphere of the receiving room was changed to that of a boutique’s.
Lucia came down from the second floor after hearing that the designer had arrived and paused as she walked into the receiving room that was now unfamiliar.
Just in time, thee workers finished their task and quickly rushed out while Antoine and her two assistants who were standing behind her, gave a deep bow.
“I offer my greetings to the Duchess. I am called Antoine, manager of a small boutique.”
Lucia had often heard the name Antoine. It was her first time meeting Antoine but the woman was very famous in her dream. Antoine was one of the first-class designers that dominated in popularity among noblewomen.
But Countess Lucia was unable to even conceive the idea of buying a dress from a famous designer. Count Matin spent all his money like water but was terribly stingy to everyone but himself, even if it was family. Lucia could only wear a few fashionable dresses after fixing them countless times.
‘This will be expensive.’
That was the first thought that came to Lucia’s mind. But, when she went out to the social circles, the talk of the women would be who designed the Duchess’ dress.
It was not possible for anyone to create fashion on their own(1). If they didn’t have skill, the easiest way was to get help from a famous designer.
“It’s nice to meet you. I heard you would be coming to help me today.”
“It is an honor to meet your noble personage.”
Antoine averted her gaze in order not to give the impression that she was blatantly observing but with her sharp falcon eyes, she quickly grasped the overall feel and appearance of the Duchess. Thanks to her experience with countless customers, this didn’t take long.
Antoine was thrilled with excitement before coming to the ducal residence today. Ever since she became a well-known designer, it was her first time feeling so nervous before meeting a client. She could once again feel the excitement that she felt in the days when she was doing her first fittings as a trainee.
Antoine had already heard that the Duke had swept away all the merchandise on display at Sepia Jewelry.
The golden egg she would soon acquire dangled before her eyes, and her heart raced at the appearance of the romanticist Duke that stimulated all her senses so she couldn’t sleep at night.
Her boutique was a place where famous people in the high society visited frequently so it was at the center of all sorts of rumors. Simply eavesdropping on the chatter of noblewomen gave one access to endless information.
Nowadays, rumors about the Duchess of Taran were the most lively and interesting rumors. Antoine knew that, no matter how interesting, rumors were mostly lies and speculations, so she wasn’t that entranced by it unlike young boutiques designers.
She had seen numerous topics rise to the spotlight and disappear without a word. The rumors of the Duchess were like dust on a barren road. No one had ever seen the Duchess properly and one rumor led to another.
Antoine assumed that once the Duchess actually appeared, this would all settle, like morning weather after a rainy day. However, her assumption began to waver when the Duke of Taran added onto that amount on her memo. And following the sellout of Sepia Jewelry, that assumption was in danger of collapsing.
And today, as soon as she saw the Duchess of the rumors, something burst open in her heart.
‘Oh. My. Goodness.’
It was completely unexpected. This was a type she had never seen in the high society filled with flashy, sensual, and confident noblewomen.
The world that Antoine saw was very different, compared to what many people saw. The doll-like figure that people often referred to as beautiful was so cliché that it wasn’t interesting to her.
A beauty as defined by Antoine, had to be able to stimulate her creativity. And the Duchess was an appearance of new material to work with. She was fresh and charming.
While Antoine sat on the couch and drank tea served by the maid, her sight was continuously trained on the Duchess.
“This design book is filled with the collection of dresses that I have made over the years. Please look through it and tell me if any piece strikes your fancy.”
Antoine had no qualms about referring to the dresses that she made as her pieces.
Lucia’s expression was calm as she looked at the luxurious dresses in the fairly thick book on her lap, one by one. Just as her expression portrayed, she was not that impressed.
In her dream, she had seen enough dresses to be sick of them. She didn’t know much about fashion. To her, it was just a distinction between more glamor and less glamor.
Ball dresses were meant more for show than practicality so if one wore them for a several hours, they would get very uncomfortable. To Lucia, apart from feeling uncomfortable, there was nothing more to wearing a luxurious dress.
‘It seems this won’t be easy.’
Antoine could now understand what the Duke of Taran meant when he said ‘my wife is frugal.’ Usually, when noblewomen received the design book, they would express their desire with an ecstatic expression. Compared to that, the Duchess’ expression was too calm.
In addition, the dress that the Duchess was currently wearing was very much simple. Only the base material was high-class and there was no indication of dressing herself up.
“Is there no piece that catches your eye? I can only apologize for this inadequate display of items.”
“No, these are all wonderful and lovely. It’s just, I’m not quite familiar with this subject…you are the expert, you can handle it appropriately at your discretion.”
At your discretion. There was no worse customer than this. Antoine felt a sense of crisis and at the same time, she felt fired up with a sense of challenge. The amount on the memo written by the Duke glimmered in front of her. Antoine couldn’t miss out on the gold within her reach.
“May we take your measurements?”
Antoine had Lucia stand in front of a full-length mirror and slowly walked around her. In the meantime, her assistants were at the side of the Duchess, measuring her dimensions with a tapeline.
Antoine stood a little distance away and looked at the Duchess as a whole. She got a rough outline of the Duchess’ measurements and drew up an attire in her head.
‘It won’t suit her.’
Antoine quickly realized this. The dress she thought of was glamourous and styled to make the chest stand out. It was a form that showed the body in a sensual matter and was the fashion these days. But in Antoine’s opinion, if the Duchess wore such a design, rather than suiting her, it ran the risk of making her look vulgar.
‘The Duchess is on the paler side. If one adds color, there is a different charm.’
On a slender figure, it was better to emphasize the slim waist and stir up the protective instinct rather than emphasize sensual charm. If the Duchess’s white, clear skin was made the focus and supplemented with light makeup, it was possible to create a pure and enchanting atmosphere.
A new picture was drawn in Antoine’s head. A vibrant creation was brought to life.
Antoine began to instruct her assistants. Her assistants moved like her hands and feet limbs, bringing her what she wanted and understanding her small gestures and glances.
Antoine used a cloth to emphasize the lace of the simple dress that the Duchess was wearing, then she used a pin to hold down her slight modifications to the shape of the dress. To finish, she gave a partial makeover to simply change the feel of the dress.
The whole process took place very quickly. Then Antoine took Lucia to the mirror.
“What do you think?”
Antoine asked while smiling triumphantly.
Lucia’s eyes widened as she looked in the mirror. It was like magic. With just a rough touch here and there, the feel had changed completely. The dress she often wore had become a completely new attire and there was something beautiful about her appearance in the mirror.
She couldn’t really put it in words but something was different.
“Your Grace is very attractive. I do not know why are hiding this charm.”
Lucia touched her face and looked at her appearance in the mirror with admiration.
Antoine gave a smile of satisfaction. Like a hyena, she didn’t let go once she had bitten. Antoine’s hunt had only just begun.
1. Alt translation: It was not possible for any tom, dick and harry to create fashion on their own.
*I sometime add alternate translations because I try to keep the ‘spirit?’ of the novel in my translations but the English counterpart may not fully convey what is being said.
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