At exactly eleven o’clock a very beautiful man walked into my office and asked with a dazzling smile if I was The Miss Gabriel he was to assist. I got up from behind my desk and shook his hand.
“Siavaan Rimanata, everyone calls me Shiv.” He shook my hand back and grinned. “I hope you are ready for this.” He said and he ushered me out of the office. At the landing pad he swept me into a chauffer driven sleek looking cruiser and off we went.
He was not what I had expected, but then again I had no idea what to expect, He was not overly tall and fairly slender in an elegant sort of way. He had long, wavy blond hair with and elegantly chiseled looking features. I suspected he had had work done. His eyes were the kind of green that only comes with augments and his teeth were just a little too white and a little too perfect. He spoke with a soft, tenor voice, was eloquent and polite and had been well educated in the noble art of etiquette. As he spoke about himself, telling me a little more than I really needed to know , I got the feeling he was over compensating and was a little nervous being with me. I asked him why.
“It is not every day that I am told to drop what I am doing and come and do a make over. I was especially surprised to hear that the order came from Lord Vader. It is not wise to displease Lord Vader.” He said.
“What were you doing when you dropped everything?” I asked.
“Coordinating the courtesans wardrobes.” He said. “They all have to look according to the Emperor’s design. This year the theme is a slightly retro Nubian look. Not easy.” He shook his head. “The courtesans can be difficult. So let’s enjoy the day, shall we?”
I smiled and nodded. “So what is first on the menu?”
He smiled and gave me the once up and down. “It’s a surprise.”
Our first stop was a very upscale hair salon called Te’n’renzza. We walked in and the Owner, a flamboyant middle aged man with blue hair that Shiv called Bam.
“Shiv, how delightful to see you again.” He said and they did that court kiss, kiss thing. “What brings you here today?”
Shiv nodded in my direction and Bam’s eyes almost popped out of his head.
“Oh my,” he said. “I see we have our work cut out for us. She does present a challenge.”
I didn’t like this talking about me as I wasn’t there. “She has a name, you know.” I said. “She is called Miss Gabriel.”
“Very well, Miss Gabriel, please follow me.” Bam said with a slightly injured air, and I did.
I had never in my life been to a hair salon. My mother had always cut my hair for me until I rebelled about having short hair and let it grow out. After that it was a struggle to keep it looking decent. I remember many torturous sessions having my washed hair combed out. IT was always full of tables and knots. IT hurt like hell but I never did go back to the standard Tatooine short hair. Now, I was sitting in this ritzy place having my hair washed by someone whose hands were softer than down. It felt glorious. When the assistant was finished she wrapped my hair in a fluffy towel and I was moved onto the next station. There I was told to sit in the chair and then Bam came over and fussed around.
“Okay,” he said, “I suggest short here and some fluffing here and the layers down the back.” He was about to handle my hair some more when I grabbed his hand and pulled him close to my face.
“Listen to me. If you cut more than a centimeter off my hair I will cut off your fingers.” I said with a sweet smile.
Bam, much to his grace, just smiled and nodded. “I understand, Miss Gabriel, now if you let go of my hand I can work my magic. Your hair needs some serious work. Where have you been living?”
“Tatooine. It’s murder on your hair.”
He sighed a long suffering sigh and went to work. He snipped and shaped and sprayed stuff in my hair and by the time he had finished I was amazed.
“Wow, I take it back, you can keep your fingers.” I said, amazed. My hair seemed to suddenly glow and shine as I had never seen it before. It was soft and almost beautiful.
“My work is done.” He said and then he handed Shiv a very large bag full of hair products. “Try not to undo my hard work?” Bam said.
The next place Shiv dragged me to was a salon that specialized in hands and feet and facials. I will spare you the details on all of this, needless to say they despaired of me. I bit my nails had worn desert boots most of my life when I wasn’t running around barefoot and I hated having the facial done. I had to admit it felt good afterwards though. We left with another bag filled of make Merlyn beautiful products. Then we got to the interesting part, clothes. Coruscant has a large fashion district and there are many designers there all in competition with each other. Shiv explained that there were five major labels and several more minor ones all in the Designer guild and then there were the independents. First, because it was the way of things, we visited the five major labels first. I hated everything I saw. I don’t know who these guys designed for but it wasn’t for women shaped like me, that is a woman with enough hip and waist difference to give me curves, ,enough breast to make a man happy if he’s not into augments but not tall enough to kiss a Wookie’s nose without standing on something. I was so not the right shape for almost everything I was shown, and I hated the colours. We went to several of the minor labels and it was more of the same. It seemed to me that if you were in the guild you followed a set of rules. The rules dictated the clothes and the clothes all had the same feel to them. I was not going to be a carbon copy of all the other girls at that Ball, no matter how prestigious the labels were.
It was getting late and Shiv was getting desperate. Then, he had a brainstorm. And he dragged me to an out of the way shop just off the fashion strip called Cati’s.
We went in and were met by a pretty young woman who actually gave me a smile that went to her eyes. She didn’t immediately ask if I wanted a drink or a tiny sandwich that tasted like it had been made from synth bread that had sat around for seven years. Instead she ignored Shiv and started to talk to me.
“So what colours do you like?” she asked.
“Blue. I said, I love blues and greens. No more browns and no yellows.” I said.
She nodded. “What do you dislike in clothes?”
“Restriction.” I said, “I dance and I hate tight clothes. Everything I wear is long and easy to move in.”
She smiled and nodded. “Are you from Tatooine?”
“Yep.” I wanted to ask how she knew but she pointed to what I was wearing.
“That type of cloth is only found there.” She said. “I studied many styles from the Outer Rim Territories.”
She gave me a measured look and nodded to herself. Then she vanished for a few minutes and then came back with a rack of dresses.
I spent an hour trying on some of the most beautiful dresses I had ever in my entire life seen. We left with six. Then we followed Cati’s advice and went shoe and accessory shopping at a place she swore would be amazing. She was not wrong.
After that we went to an upscale department shop and in the space of another hour I had a whole new day to day wardrobe.
Once all the purchases were stored in the vehicle we went for something to eat, a nice little bistro in the Coco district.
Half way through a very nice soup and salad I asked Shiv who was paying for all of this stuff.
“Everything had been charged to the Imperial Palace Account. So I guess the Emperor is paying for it all.” Shiv said. “But that’s normal, all the courtesan clothing is charged to this account.”
“What we spent today could buy a space port on Tatooine.” I said.
Shiv smiled. “Well, here it buys you clothes. Last time I looked you didn’t need a space port, but you sure need clothes. You are an absolute fashion disaster.”
“Gee, thanks.” I said and we finished our food. Then we headed back to the palace. He helped me carry everything into the apartment which suddenly seemed a whole lot smaller.
“Damn girl, you need a decorator.” He said looking around.
I asked if he wanted a coffee or anything but he just said no thanks. “I have a lot to do tomorrow and no offense but shopping with you is exhausting but this was fun, maybe we can get together again for coffee or something? We can catch up on the Palace gossip.”
“Sure.” I said. “I’d like that.” And I meant it too and with a hug and that kiss kiss thing, that almost everyone in the fashion industry liked to do, he left.
I surveyed the mass of designer paper bags and boxes that cluttered up my apartment. It was obscene how much money had been spent on me today and I was still wondering why I was worth the effort and how the Emperor even knew about me. It was worrying and it nagged at me.
With a sigh I got and started to unpack everything. There were shoes, and six exquisite dresses, a bunch of office style clothes I was still not sure I would wear, some frivolous accessories I was certain I did not need, along with a ton of personal hygiene, hair care and make up products I had never knew I had ever needed. I was tired and I felt as though I had wasted the whole day. The Grand Ball was a huge event and I could not even imagine such a thing let alone imagine attending it. With a sigh I put all the pretty dress up clothes away. While putting away all the shampoos and body lotion and stuff I discovered a beautiful hand blown glass bottle of a very exotic bubble-bath. I felt it was a sign from the Great Maker and I decided to take a bath. I lit candles, poured myself a glass of my father’s moonglow and dug out one of my favourite books. It had been a strange day and I was glad it was over. I lounged in the bath until the water was cool, got out wrapped myself in the biggest towel I had just as the doorbell rang. I figured it was probably Shiv coming back to say he had forgotten something or maybe my droid with a message. When I opened the door the last person I expected to be standing there was Captain Thrawn. There was an awkward moment of silence and then not knowing what else to do, I said.
“Well, are you coming in or is it your intention to just stand there watching me drip all over the carpet?”
He decided to come in.