This follows on from Dresses.
A wedding dress proved more problematic than day clothes, evening dress or audience robes. Everything made as a wedding dress, everything designed as a wedding dress had swathes of white, red or blue right next to the wearer’s face. All three of those colours made Rensa look dreadful. Frankly, she looked better in the grey/dun tunic she was wearing than the outfits on offer.
The other issue was style. This season’s thing for wedding dresses was flounce. In twelve months, as Mirren pointed out, Rensa would probably be able to do flounce. At the moment though, flounces just swallowed her up. No-one whose work the both liked were able to fit an original wedding dress commission to be completed in less than a month, even for the Princess, into their workbooks. Sir, at the first establishment they’d been served at that day, didn’t do wedding dresses at all.
They were standing on the footpath in an intersection of expensive shopping precinct. Rensa was beginning to accept that there could be a sustained demand for these...trinkets and toys but wondered what people were missing out on to obtain them. “You could have had these things too,” pointed out Mirren, “I mean, I know you bought basic electronics in bulk and all that, but why not these things?”
“Conspicuous overconsumption was a Second Dynasty thing,” Rensa said almost absentmindedly while scanning the shopfronts, “They took so much out of the production economy that the family felt obliged to pay it back, with interest.”
Mirren closed her eyes briefly, almost in pain, “Pay it back with interest, I suppose that makes sense.” She opened her eyes again, “I suppose there was a ledger and everything.”
Rensa laughed, “We were meant to be accountants and administrators. Of course there’s a ledger,” she sobered, “Or at least, there was. Hang on,” she grabbed Mirren’s arm, “In that window directly across from us. How’s that for an idea?”
“Which one?” There were three dresses in the window Rensa had indicated. None of them was a wedding dress. The establishment wasn’t on Mirren’s list because there hadn’t been any catalogues or parade pictures for her to review.
“The one with the green tights and the yellow shoes.”
“The style would probably suit you,” agreed Mirren slowly, “Tailored across the front panels then the tiers round the side are sort of frilled but not too frilled or flouncy. Would you want the tiers in red, white and blue?”
“I think only the bottom tier,” replied Rensa, “I mean, the bride is supposed to wear red for happiness, blue for luck and white for purity on intention, but it doesn’t actually say they all have to be on the dress. What if we cover two colours with shoes and stockings?”
“And it’s not like we want a whole new look or concept,” agreed Mirren, “I suppose we can only ask.” They crossed the road and went up the stairs.
The sign hanging inside the door said “OPEN”, so they pushed the door and went in. Just inside an older woman with faded orange hair, pale skin and a sharp, intelligent expression was beginning to pull a giant makeup removal wipe from the canister of them she had in her hands when she said, “Ah, you don’t need this. Glerren!” One of the floor staff hurried over and was handed the canister, “You know what to do with these.” She turned to Rensa, “I’m Verrin, the proprietor of this establishment. How may I help Your Highness?”
“How do you do?” Rensa was strongly reminded of some of her great-aunts, there was a very strong personality here, “I’m looking for a wedding dress in a colour that doesn’t make me look dreadful.”
“I wouldn’t normally do wedding dress commissions at this time of year, with the collection release and showings,” Verrin was beginning to look her up and down with a measuring eye, “What colours make you look dreadful?”
“Red, white and blue.”
“Ah, they would,” a knowing nod, “So why did you come in here?”
“Your display in the window made me think I could have two of the colours in my stockings and shoes and the third on the bottom tier of the dress. We think,” Rensa looked at Mirren for confirmation, “That the dress in the middle would probably suit me.”
Verrin looked her up and down consideringly and then walked around her, “You’re too skinny, you know.”
“We’re working on that,” said Mirren.
“Good.” Verrin waved an imperious hand and an assistant hurried over while Verrin was scribbling something in a notebook she’d produced from her pocket. Ripping out the page she told the assistant, “Bring these to the number three fitting room.” Turning to Rensa and Mirren, she said, “If you’ll come with me, ladies.”
A little while later Rensa was being measured, “We only have a month,” she warned, “Will that be enough time?”
“Not to worry,” Verrin was wielding the tape measure herself, “This dress is in this season’s made to measure and we’re not changing the pattern, just the colours. We have plenty of time. Red bottom tier, white stockings and blue shoes. Love to be able to send you out in ripped stockings, with your skin that would look good, but it is a wedding, totally inappropriate. Must keep the look in mind for my next show though.” She scribbled something in her notepad. “Now, my first choice for the rest of the dress would be this.” The assistant unfurled a pale gold bronze colour and held it in front of Rensa so the effect could be seen in the mirror.
“Yes,” agreed Mirren, “That’s it. It’s paler than her lightest skin tone but not too much paler.”
“That’s agreed then,” said Verrin. “We’ll get your deposit and get you a fitting appointment.”
Rensa, gazing in the mirror put her hand to her mouth and began to giggle. All three other women in the room looked at her, unsure if there was some unseen joke or bridal nerves at work. Rensa caught their gazes and blushed, “I’m sorry, it just occurred to me, from what I’ve seen of my father and brothers over the years, that this is probably the colour of Yannic’s skin under his clothes.”
The assistant covered her mouth with her hand but her eyes widened, Mirren and Verrin’s mouths widened into similarly knowing grins.
“Skin of groom as the ultimate wedding dress statement,” said Verrin dryly.
“I’m sure,” said Mirren, trying not to chortle, “That there is a really crude joke in there and that one of my family will find it on the day. I’ll have to speak to my mother and my aunt about it.”