Beneath a Starlet Sky by Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper

By SMW Staff

“Thanks,” Gigi says, overwhelmed. “It was nice to meet you. I’ll . . . I’ll definitely give you a call. And nice to meet you too, Lola.” To her credit, Gigi looks as puzzled as she is excited. “Well . . . I’m going to go and mingle. Are you coming, Chris?” she asks.

“In a minute,” he says. He reaches out and gives Gigi’s hand a lingering squeeze as she melts into the crowd.

“Kate, I really hope we can talk at some point, I want to explain,” Christopher says.

“Go enjoy your moment in the sun, Chris. You should be talking to all the journalists, not me. You need to capitalize on this,” Kate says, safely back in agent mode, which is far less painful than ex- girlfriend mode.

“I hope you’re coming to the after- party,” he says.

“I’ll try,” Kate says, but we both know she won’t.

As Christopher disappears into the crowd, I turn to Kate.

“Are you okay?” I ask as her cell phone starts ringing.

“Saved by the bell,” she says. She reads the caller ID. “Okay, Lola, here’s the other disaster I’m dealing with. Hello,” she says, clicking on the speaker.

“The ea gle has landed in Cannes. Let all prepare to rejoice and let Kate be down waiting for me in the lobby of the Hôtel Du Cap in ten minutes,” Nic Knight’s voice booms. The only thing worse than thinking it was a good idea for my brother to date my best friend is thinking it was a good idea for Kate to put one of her most loose- cannon clients, Nic Knight, in my father’s own bid for the Palme d’Or, San Quentin Cartel. Nic makes Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, and Robert Downey Jr. 1.0 look like paragons of sobriety and self- control.

“I’ll be there soon, Nic,” she says, before hanging up. “Do you believe this shit?”

“What’s with the fake accent? He sounds like Ricardo Montalban,” I say.

“More bullshit. He says he’s gonna stay in character until after the premiere. I’ve never met a more pretentious, full- of- himself actor in my life, and I’ve met a lot of ’em. But I’m just glad he actually made it here. He let his passport expire, and you have no idea the strings I had to pull to get him a new one in twenty- four hours. Not to mention Nic violated parole again by causing a public disturbance when he went commando into the hot mugwort tea pool of the all-women’s spa in Koreatown and missed another mandatory drug test. I had to bribe his parole officer with premier tickets and a free trip to Cannes just so he can personally make sure Nic stays out of trouble.”

“I was going to offer you a trade but now I’m not so sure,” I say. I’ve been having major headaches with a certain supermodel who seems hell- bent on finalizing her fittings for a jail cell instead of for Julian’s runway show, which is only four days away.

“I gotta go, I’ll call you later,” Kate says.

“Good luck with Nic,” I say before Kate walks away down the Palais steps.

I head off to find Julian when my own cell starts chirping.

“Hello?” I ask.

“I just left Grace Frost’s office,” Coz, the Se nior Bitchitor at Vain magazine says over the phone line. “I simply cannot imagine why you’ve been calling her. I’m returning the call on her behalf.”

I feel my stomach plummet to the floor along with our chances of being in Vain, the hottest fashion magazine around. I wouldn’t have even dreamed of calling the editor in chief herself, except that Coz left me no choice. I had to call Grace Frost. Julian’s new bridal collection deserves to be on the cover of Vain. And without it, I’m not even sure if there will be a JT Inc. any longer.

“I, um, well, I can explain,” I stumble and imagine Coz on the other end of the phone, basking in this moment from behind her big black sunglasses.

“As much as I’d derive immense plea sure from listening to you grovel for the next few hours, I’m actually really busy so I’m going to cut to the chase,” Coz says. “I called my friends at Vogue, Elle, Bazaar, and Marie Claire and I know that there are no other offers for a Julian Tennant cover. Did you imagine for one second that I wouldn’t check?”

“I—” I shouldn’t have lied to Grace Frost’s assistant. But can you blame me? I’m desperate and I’m not Criss Angel or God or Stacy London, so what else could I do? It’s taken me my entire twenty- seven years to find a career that I love and I’m actually good at, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the world’s most talented designer that I can’t seem to make famous no matter how hard I try on the cover of Vain.

“I’m still speaking. I’ll let you know when it’s your turn,” Coz says. God I hate her. “We’re going to give you the cover and a twelve- page layout inside to coincide with the release of Four Weddings and a Bris in August.”

“You’re what?!” I ask, flabbergasted. Julian beat out John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Marchesa, and Jason Wu to be one of the four designers to create wedding dresses for Baz Luhrmann’s latest musical extravaganza, also set to premiere at Cannes. It stars Hollywood’s hottest supernova, Saffron Sykes, the Best Actress Oscar winner who has Spielberg, the Coen brothers, and Clint Eastwood all fighting to work with her— and pay her twenty mil— all at the ripe old age of twenty- five. Could it possibly be that Coz is our miracle worker after all? “Is this a joke?” “Does it sound like I’m joking?” Coz says icily. Other than sounding as if she’s got a pair of her Dior studded platform skyscrapers shoved up her fl at bum, I can’t tell if she’s serious or not. Could she be serious? “Are you listening?” she demands.

“I’m here,” I say, still in shock.

“Just so we’re clear, I’m not doing this for you or Julian,” she says, as if she’s ever done anything for me— or Julian. Except waterboard our careers. “I’m doing it for Chili.”

“Chili?” I repeat. That’s Charles “Chili” Lu, fashion’s rising wunderkind, who Coz thinks is the second coming. And did I mention the kid is only sixteen? Yes, sixteen. He’s accomplished more in his sixteen years than I have in all of my twenty- seven. Chili was the first winner of Cutthroat Couture, the reality TV show brainchild of Vain’s very own Coz, its most tart- tongued judge. He also created wedding gowns for Baz’s film.

Except Baz and Saffron weren’t clamoring for gowns with iPod portals and solar panels after all. So Baz replaced Chili with Julian and Coz forced us to hire the Christian Siriano wannabe as Julian’s assistant after convincing Baz that it would be bad PR for his movie to draw attention to firing a designer on a film where the costuming is everything. Chili’s transition over to our team would make all appear to be smooth sailing. “Grace agreed that it was a complete travesty that Chili’s divine wedding gowns ended up on Baz’s cutting room floor, so she thought it was a wonderful idea to let his gowns see the light of day in Vain.” I know that Coz is speaking but I can’t compute what’s she’s actually saying.

“What about Julian?” I’m finally able to get out.

“Saffron and Cricket will do the cover together. Saffron will wear Chili and Cricket can wear Julian,” Coz says. My Best Actress Forever (BAF), Cricket Curtis, landed the part of Saffron’s wisecracking sidekick in Four Weddings and a Bris. “I’ve already booked Patrick Demarchelier, Gucci Westman, and Orlando Pita and called the Du Cap and arranged to shoot in their gardens. Chili and I are flying out tomorrow. Jusqu’à demain. Bisous. Bisous,” she says, and then just as abruptly hangs up.

I try and recover from the Coz tsunami that just hit me. So what if Julian has to share the cover with little Chili Lu? At least Julian is going to be on the cover of Vain. This could catapult Julian into becoming the next Vera Wang. He could rule the Hollywood brides. Everything I’ve killed myself for as CEO of Julian Tennant Inc.

Oh god. Oh no. I still haven’t actually asked Cricket or Saffron if they’d be willing to pose for the cover. What if they say no?

My head is spinning. I feel faint. I speed- dial Cricket. It goes straight to voice mail. I leave her a very long rambling, bumbling, begging message. I contemplate hurling myself down the Palais steps, the most prestigious red carpet in the world but decide against it. I’m fairly certain that the throng of international paparazzi and fans camped out at the bottom of the steps would only break my fall. Not to mention the last thing I want is another video of me all over TMZ.

I drop to my knees on the red carpet and clasp my hands together.

Please Rob Pattinson, please Rob Pattinson, let Cricket and Saffron agree to pose together for the cover of Vain. Please.

“What are you doing?” Julian asks. “This is the red carpet, not a mosque.”

I look up at Julian. “I can explain.”

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