The first time I saw Allie, she was wearing all black, as they always do, and has long blonde hair, as many of them do, except hers is flaxen gold to the roots. Allie is a born PR girl right down to her follicles, and the very best kind, as she is as natural, genuine, and inherently dishevelled as pure linen. She is the exact opposite of me, she is almost always smiling, and instantly I knew that we would be friends.
I was standing outside of a fashion show in Toronto. I didn’t have an invitation. I didn’t know how it all worked. I was just watching all of the fashion people lining up, or walking in, feeling overwhelmed and unsure why I was even there. Surrounded by people with such elaborate hair and makeup and shoes made me feel very plain in my parka with my scuffed boots. I was drawn to fashion like moth to a flame, and it intimidated me.
It still does, even now. I guess the difference is now I know I am not the only one who is struck with awe in the face of fashion. Fashion does that to you on purpose. Knowing that makes it easier to deal with it, but never makes the fear disappear.
Allie looked at me standing on my own and said “Skye! You’re in my design history class!” which was true though I was surprised she knew. I keep a low profile to myself at school, and Allie was a girl who was always surrounded by friends, giggling and gossiping seemingly oblivious to the show they put on for the lonelier audience, people like me. I’m being facetious. There were no other people like me in fashion school.
And before I could come up with something awkward to say, she hooked her elbow into mine and marched me into the runway room, sat beside me in the third row. With Allie at my side, I watched my first fashion show.
It was a local designer – someone who dressed the wealthy ladies of Toronto in cocktail gowns and matching suits, not very interesting. But the beautiful girls and the music was novel to me and I let myself just watch it without thinking, in a way that I never really get to do any more, even though the fashion shows I see now are in every way, more spectacular, and maybe more deserving of being truly, uncritically absorbed.
But the central memory is twenty year old Allie, with her bright skin and hair and eyes glowing over her standard-issue black leggings, miniskirt and blazer, offering her arm and her help and her friendship, as unreserved and generous in the beginning just as she is unreserved and forgiving now. And all I can think of is how I may never be able to make it up to her.