Science of Fashion
Dr Andrea Sachs, evolutionary biologist at the NYU, put down her reading glasses and rubbed her tired eyes loathing the amount of work that had piled up on her desk. Going to a conference was invigorating and a welcome change from her routine but coming back to an overflowing desk was hell.
She sighing heavily when a knock on her door interrupted her musings, calling the visitor in.
The grey haired head of her friend and head of the department came around an opening door. Carl Richardson had mastered all his courage to fulfil his unavoidable mission, to more or less order his friend and dear colleague to attend the University fund raiser on Friday. Being the boss was a dirty job indeed.
"Hello, Andy. I'm not disturbing you, am I?"
"Not really. If anything you are a welcome excuse for a break."
Carl flopped down on one of her visitor chairs and decided to take a relaxed approach of the subject ahead.
"So, how was the conference?"
"Quite good, actually." Andy smiled tiredly.
"Peterson still angry at you about the article in the last Nature issue?"
"Yes. You know him."
"That I do. Whiny little man." Carl laughed.
"Is there something in particular you want from me?" Andy asked knowingly.
Fidgeting with the end of his tie Carl pondered his request over and finally blurted it out, not quite sure how else he could make it more appealing to her.
"You have to attend the fund raiser on Friday."
"Absolutely not." Andy shot back.
"You have to, the president made it clear that it's of utmost importance for you to be there and it is your turn anyway."
Andy bristled at this suggestion and was inclined to fight it tooth and nail to prevent her fate.
"Why me? And what do you mean my turn? Since when do we take turns. John loves this kind of events and Sharon has already bought a new dress, she has told me so. What the hell do you need me for?"
"Well, you see", Carl stuttered under Andy's murderous gaze. "There is this new benefactor. She is the editor in chief of Runway, the fashion magazine and well..."
"Jesus, Carl. A fashion magazine, really. You know I don't give a damn about these kind of things." Andy rolled her eyes she couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"But you dress exceptionally well." Carl murmured.
"Only because I don't read such ridiculous magazines doesn't mean I have no sense of style at all", Andy was slightly miffed.
"Sorry", Carl apologised. "Anyway, we need you there. This woman is hard to please and you know that neither Sharon nor John is the right person for that. For Sharon every other female is competition and John always feels the need to conquer. And believe me when I say that Miranda Priestly doesn't give a damn about John's charm."
"Who does?" Andy asked with a smile.
"So you will attend?" Carl was hopeful.
"Do I have any choice?"
"Actually, no I'm afraid."
"Great, just bloody great", Andy muttered softly. "Now get out, I have work to do."
Jumping to his feet, with a speed few people would have thought possible for a man of his age and distinguished demeanour, Carl walked to the door, turning around before he finally left.
"Thank you, Andy."
"Yeah, yeah", she waved the man off without any further look.
When the door closed behind her friend Andy Sachs slumped back in her chair already thinking of a way to make Carl pay for this.
Friday came faster than expected. Wearing her new Armani suit Andy had made her appearance at the party and was instantly annoyed by the gossip mongers and pitiful glances she received. Much to her relieve Carl had told her that Miranda Priestly would be late. Andy hoped she would be late enough so she would not have to meet her at all. Really, what were those people thinking? If they wanted to donate money for scientific research they could and should do so without any sucking up to them and for the sake of science itself.
After two hours of small talk and listening to a lot of inane chatter, Andy escaped to the terrace with a bottle of wine, where she enjoyed the slight early summer breeze, the silence and solace.
Sitting in the shadows and gazing into a clear night sky, Andy thought it was a wonderful night. It caused Andy to think about her wife and how they would have enjoyed this together.
When she wiped away an errant tear, the floor to ceiling door opened and a woman in a beautiful black dress with silver hair stepped out. The moonlight made her light skin look even paler.
The silver haired woman heaved a sigh and looked up into the night sky. Andy was mesmerised, she knew that the woman hadn't realised she was there. It was clear that she wanted to escape the event for a few moments, so Andy decided to ask her over where she would not be seen by a room full of people.
"You should come over here, they can see you from inside over there", Andy softly said.
A startled sound escaped Miranda when she turned towards the voice.
"Sorry", Andy hastened to apologise. "I didn't mean to startle you. It just seemed as if you wanted some undisturbed time to yourself."
"Well, that wouldn't be the case now, anyway", Miranda said not unkindly.
"Right", Andy had to agree. "I leave you to yourself then."
She took her cane and started to get up but Miranda realised she didn't want her to go.
"Stay!" It sounded like an order, not a request.
Looking at the other woman, Andy didn't know what to do but a soft "Please", changed her mind.
"All right", Andy propped her cane against the side of the bench again, holding up the bottle of wine. "Care for some wine? I neglected to bring glasses, though."
Gliding gracefully to where Andy was sitting, Miranda sat down next to the other woman, snatched the bottle from her hand and took a healthy gulp.
"I needed that, thank you."
Inclining her head Andy took back the bottle and took a sip herself.
Neither said a word for quite some time, enjoying the silence. When Miranda slightly shivered in the breeze Andy took off the jacket of her suit and wrapped it gently around Miranda's bare shoulders.
"Yes." Miranda couldn't help but smile at the chivalrous gesture, smelling the younger woman's perfume on the jacket. "Thank you."
"You are welcome."
"You didn't enjoy the party either, I presume?" Miranda asked casually.
"No", Andy snorted "I loath these kinds of sucking up gatherings."
"Then why are you here?"
"The head of my department forced me to, more or less." Andy gazed into the night before she continued.
"He wanted me to meet some new benefactor."
"Oh." Now Miranda was intrigued, wondering who else might be interested to donate money to Carl's department.
"Indeed. A fashion magazine woman. She is the editor of Run-something."
"You haven't met her then?" Miranda asked all innocence.
"Good grief, no." Andy huffed. "I had to endure two hours of small talk all along as it is. What could someone like me have to say to a woman who is, according to my boss, the most powerful and influential person not only in the fashion industry but in New York?"
Pausing to gather her thoughts Andy tried to get her point across.
"I mean, the whole purpose of this party is to suck up to some rich people to get money for our research. I understand that, mind you. But I hate it nonetheless. If they want to support science than they should do it because they realise that science has a value of its own. And what is more, I´m quite sure there are more interesting people to talk to at the party."
"What makes you say that?" Miranda was intrigued now, knowing that this was the woman Carl Richardson wanted her to meet.
"Because I'm the most boring person one can think of", Andy laughed. "And most people feel embarrassed or awkward around me."
"The cane I presume?" Miranda guessed.
"Hmm", Andy agreed. "Small talk, I am lacking at. Fashion, I don't give a damn about. Unlike my nonna, who is a dedicated follower of fashion."
"But for all you do not care, you dress exceptionally well." Miranda smirked.
"Yeah, well. I guess nonna rubbed off on me after all." Andy smiled sheepishly.
That elicited a genuine laugh from the older woman.
"Besides, I am not famous, so what is there to talk about? I'm a nerd or rather most people tend to think so after a short conversation. Just plain old me, a biologist who loves to talk about her subject, which by the way has the tendency to annoy or infuriate people. I would like to spare her my babbling."
Thinking about what the younger woman said, Miranda understood all too well what it meant talking to people you are not interested in and who in turn are not interested in you either.
This woman didn't recognise her which was quite refreshing, just as was talking to her.
They spoke for some time more and Andy without even trying made Miranda laugh about her stories about students and colleagues. Miranda enjoyed herself immensely for the first time in a very long time.
Sighing when she felt tired, it had been a long day after all and the wine she drank with the younger woman made it worse.
Miranda got up from the bench she took the jacket from her shoulders and handed it back to the younger woman.
"Thank you, for your company. Your plain old self and nerd talk made this evening worthwhile." Miranda smiled genuinely.
"No, thank you. I really enjoyed myself for the first time since... Anyway, it was a pleasure meeting you." Andy didn't want her to go but it was obvious that the older woman was tired.
"Good night." Miranda bid good bye.
When she was alone again Andy realised the woman hadn't told her her name but neither had she. Andy was just glad that she had at least for a little while spent time with somebody intriguing. So the evening hadn't been so bad after all. Drinking wine and talking to a beautiful, fascinating woman could be counted as a perfect evening.
Getting to her feet with the help of her cane Andy left the party with a small smile on her lips.
The next day a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived at Andy's office with a card attached that read:
Thank you, for a wonderful evening.
Reading the card brought the image of a stunningly gorgeous woman in a black dress bathed in moonlight to Andy's mind and a soft smile to her lips.
"Wow", Carl Richardson was perplexed when he entered Andy's room unannounced, "I haven't seen that smile for quite a while. Must have been a juicy evening after all."
Sighing at Carl's cheeky comment, Andy put the card into her top drawer before she leaned over her desk and regarded her friend with forced patience.
"What do you want?"
"If you weren't my friend, I could be offended." Carl faked hurt.
"Well?", Andy prodded.
"Ok", Carl got serious, "the president made a proposition and I think he is right. Thing is I want you to give an interview to Runway."
"Are you completely out of your mind?" Andy raised her voice. "What for? I am a scientist, not some stupid celebrity or wanna be star. I talk science, not fashion. If this is some twisted scheme to get into Miranda Priestly's good graces, forget it!"
Sitting down in the chair in front of Andy's desk, Carl knew he had to make Andy see reason. He wasn't too crazy about the idea himself, but he also knew that Runway magazine reached a far greater audience than any science magazine ever would and they needed all the promotion it could get given the anti-scientific attitude in this country.
"Look, Andy, I know how you despise this, I'm not so crazy about it myself. But fact is, Miranda decided to dedicate the next issue of Runway to female scientists and we can use all the help we can get right now."
"But why me? I'm not even American." Andy wouldn't comply without a fight that much was obvious. "Why don't you ask Sharon? I'm sure she'd be delighted."
"Because Miranda Priestly specifically asked for you." Carl pointed out.
"Again, why me? She doesn't even know me." What was this woman playing at? Andy could only wonder.
"I don't have the slightest idea", Carl had to admit.
"What if I don't want to?"
"Andy, please!" Carl sighed. It was going to be a long hard talk to convince his friend.