LEAVING THE BODY Submerged in the bathtub, Coco entered the enormous walk-in closet wearing black silk panties, elbow-length black gloves, and nothing else. Trained eyes flickered past the casual wear, all fine clothing, to be sure, but not what Coco desired.
Couture gowns. Sleek evening wear. The drama and seductiveness of elegant pieces pulled Coco like a magnet draws iron. Expert eyes and clever gloved fingers examined a mouse-gray, off-the-shoulder dress by Christian Dior and then a white Gucci gown with a plunging back.
Coco thought the designs were brilliant, but the workmanship was not as precise, the execution not as taut, as one would expect for dresses with price tags of ten thousand dollars and up. Even at the high end of luxury, the craft of dressmaking was suffering these days, the old skills all but forgotten. A pity. A shame. An outrage, as Coco’s long-departed mother would have said.
Still, both dresses went into a garment bag for future use.
Coco pushed more gowns aside, looking for the one dress that jumped out, the one that stirred deep emotion, the one that made you say, “Ahhh, yes. That’s my dream. My fantasy. That’s who I’ll be tonight!”
A cocktail dress by Elie Saab finally ended the search. Size 6. Perfect. Deep indigo, silk, sleeveless, with a plunging neckline and a diamond cutout in the back, it was spectacularly retro—late fifties, early sixties, right out of wardrobe for Mad Men.
Calling Mr. Draper; you may drool now.
Coco giggled, but there was nothing funny about this dress. It was a frock of legend, the kind that could silence all conversation in a three-star Michelin restaurant or a ballroom packed with the rich, the powerful, and the celebrated, the rare type of dress that seemed to have its own gravitational field and was able to draw lust from every male and envy from every woman within a hundred yards.
Coco pulled it off the rack, went to the full-length mirrors at the far end of the walk-in closet, and paused there for a bit of self-appraisal. Tall, lean, with a cover girl’s face and a dancer’s regal stance, Coco noted the oval hazel eyes and the flawless skin. Add to that the barest suggestion of breasts and the slim boyish hips, and if the world weren’t so cruel, this sultry creature would have been the toast of runways from Paris to Milan.
Coco stared for a moment in frustration at the only thing that had blocked a dream life as a glamorous supermodel. Despite the tape strapped beneath the black panties, there was still little doubt that Coco was a man.