A Girl Like Moi: The Fashion-Forward Adventures of Imogeneby Lisa Barham, Sujean Rim (Illustrator), Sujean Rim (Illustrator)
A girl. A dream job.
A city full of possibilities...
Imogene is obsessed with fashion. Combine that with her talent for trouble (aka maxing out her "emergencies only" AmEx) and suddenly she's not going to chere Paris with her best friend for the summer. No, she must do the unthinkable for a stylish Greenwich girl such as herself get a job/i>/b>
A girl. A dream job.
A city full of possibilities...
Imogene is obsessed with fashion. Combine that with her talent for trouble (aka maxing out her "emergencies only" AmEx) and suddenly she's not going to chere Paris with her best friend for the summer. No, she must do the unthinkable for a stylish Greenwich girl such as herself get a job.
Resourceful as always, Imogene works her connections and lands a dream internship at a fashion forecasting agency in New York. Now she's lunching at Serendipity, first on line at the Barney's warehouse sale, and skoshing seats at fashion week.
But when Imogene's dream is threatened by a cute Italian boy and one very evil intern, she questions what she really wants. And she learns that even in fashion, being true to yourself and following your dreams can go hand in hand.
This mix of one part plot, two parts designer name-dropping reads like a novelized Teen Vogue . Fashion-fanatic Imogene plans to spend her summer in Paris immersed in haute couture. But when her irresponsible spending leaves her in hot water with a credit agency, there is nothing for this chic Greenwich girl to do but get a job. Luckily, living in the land of luxury has afforded her some great connections, and she is able to secure a paid internship with a New York City fashion-forecasting agency. She even has time for a side flirtation with a charming Italian boy. Blessed with her artsy father's eye and a certain "je ne sais quoi ," Imogene is poised for success. But when a devious senior intern threatens to ruin her newfound happiness, the teen must defend her honor and fight fashion with fashion. As a side bonus, she learns a lesson on the value of integrity and hard work. The cutesy illustrations and trendy references interspersed throughout the book are not enough to surmount the one-dimensional characters, rudimentary story line, and cookie-cutter ending.
Erin SchirotaCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
One thing about Greenwich girls is they're completely backward. I mean, to my knowledge this is the only town in the world where girls actually wear their Dior silk flowered sandals to school in winter (snow boots are sooo middle class), and fur coats through summer. Don't get me wrong if I owned that super-scrummy J. Mendel mink capelet Tinsley Vogelzang wore to school yesterday, I'd wear it in June too. (Of course, having a full-time driver with 24/7 climate control at her fingertips helps.)
The other thing about Greenwich girls is that they're super-spiritual. In fact, my school, Greenwich Country Academy, is higher consciousness to the zillionth power. Although, you absolutely wouldn't believe how much economic energy it takes to create an aura for oneself these days. One misstep can be utterly fatal. I mean, you wouldn't think so (and please don't repeat this to anyone), but it's not easy for a girl such as I. You see, a girl such as I is expected to bea trendsetter. If I'm not wearing the latest and greatest, I'm not the latest and greatest. I'm invisible: an amorphous non-being from a planet somewhere else in the universe certainly not the one you and I inhabit. Lately, it's been especially challenging to keep up with one season, let alone four! We all know reputation is everything, and since I seem to be on everyone's see-and-be-seen-with list (due to the fact that I write the widely read "Daily Obsession" column for my school newspaper), it's my absolute sworn duty to uphold mine. Reputation, that is. I mean, people look up to me. What would they say if (heaven forbid) I walked into tenth-grade European History wearing an L.L.Bean Gore-Tex vest over my plaid uniform with last season's Marni bag? (Perish the thought!) Hey, no problem for Kelly Winthrop she's the captain of the lacrosse team. But for me? Well, I shudder to think about it.
But, who am I really? Well, lately I've been wondering that myself. On a physical level, some people say I remind them of a young Jackie O. Not that I listen to what some people say, mind you. But those same people to whom I do not listen also say I've got a certain je ne sais quoi, which if you don't speak French means that I simply sparkle!
I like to think of myself as a seeker. I mean, I know there's more to life than material things. Unfortunately, as of late my search for metaphysical truth has been strictly confined to shopping. (I guess more than three outfit changes a day isn't exactly a sign of inner peace, is it?) But while I was busy upholding my fashion-forward reputation, I guess I got a teensy bit carried away. I mean if there's one word you could use to describe me it's OBSESSIVE.
Like any obsession, my fashion fixation started innocently enough a bit of Juicy Couture here, a little Miu Miu there, and of course, the occasional accessory. But it didn't stop at that. Next came the bi-weekly mani-pedis, the Japanese thermal reconditioning treatments, the deep cellular facials, the faux glows, and naturally, my Saturday morning teen Pilates class (the best for abs). And well, how could I deny Toy my precious new French bulldog puppy that little Burberry Nova Check trench? I mean it's the absolute cutest. Besides, without his trench he'd catch his death of a cold riding around on the back of my scooter all day.
Like I said, I may have gotten a smidge carried away. But I can't say it's entirely my fault. Because truth be known, acquiring, spending, splurging, indulging, frittering, and squandering must be in my genes, because like most of my fellow GCA (Greenwich Country Academy) classmates, I come from a long line of ancestors who did all of the above while employing the services of such people as chauffeurs, masseuses, maître d's, concierges, cobblers, maids, valets, couturiers, decorators, nannies, cooks, seamstresses, secretaries, room service attendants, bartenders, caterers, stylists, tennis pros, psychoanalysts, and a slew of others too numerous to mention. However, by the time I came along, those halcyon days were a thing of the past. Today, at chez moi, while everything on the surface may i right to the naked eye, beneath it all the foundation of my family's fortune, figuratively speaking, is a tad cracked.
You see, at some point in the early twentieth century, my great-grandfather, a large and somewhat looming figure judging from the portrait that hangs over our mantel, left France and brought his little family to the States with the intention of buying a little property, building a house on it, and settling down. Which in fact he did. I mean, he did buy some property (about fifty acres of lush farmland smack dab in the middle of Greenwich) and he did build a house on it (the size of a baronial chateau on steroids).
Anyway, just down the road from his house he built several smaller houses on the property, all of which were passed down to my grandparents and almost to my mother. The last and smallest house my grandfather built was the gardener's cottage, which was terribly charming. Larger than most would expect something called a cottage to be, it is now brimming with lovely family heirlooms, overstuffed chintz-covered furniture, tartan-strewn sofas with sweet little petit point pillows, all gently snuggled under its quaint slate roof. That's where I live.
My point is this: Even though my house is charming and roomy and all that, and through the eyes of most of the world would be considered quite lavish, by Greenwich standards we are practically homeless.
The rest of the property (you remember: fifty acres, huge baronial chateau) was donated to the founders of my school tax deduction, hello! which eventually became the first all-girls school in Connecticut. Oddly enough, what was formerly my grandmother's sewing room is now my chemistry class.
Needless to say, the founding fathers of my family Mom's side, anyway were quite affluent. Make that loaded! And, as far as I know, still are which means by all rights, I should be too.
But you see, Dad was an artist to the core, and he was more than somewhat out of Mom's set. My grandfather, being very old-fashioned (or so I'm told, since I've never met the man), strongly disapproved of her choice. Not just because my dad was a painter, and completely creative, but because he didn't have the pedigree Mom had. And she had beaucoup pedigree.
Anyway, long story short, she married him. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad he's amazingly sweet and hugely talented, and like I said, nothing if not creative. And he's always there for me. But that's sort of why I'm a should have. (See later.)
Well, the cottage was the first (and last) gift from my mom's parents to my parents. They completely disowned her after the wedding. So with her allowance, a small trust fund from her debutante days, and the money my dad makes from his art, we live modestly. This, I might add, has resulted in me having a tad of secondhand embarrassment for my parents due to a lack of any major outward signs of substantiality (aka wealth). I mean we still take vacations and everything summers only. As opposed to most of my friends who winter in the Greek Islands or Ischia or St. Barths or ski in Courchevel or Aspen or some other completely fabulous place over spring break. And so while everyone else is off cruising the Mediterranean, I'm cruising the channel guide for reruns of Project Runway.
I guess the best way to look at things is to view life in Greenwich as a tale of two cities, comprised of the haves A-list Super Socialites ASS for short who are social butterflies over the age of 19, and A-list Super Social-ettes ASS-ettes for short who are social butterflies under age 19. And the have-nots, who, for the record, will not be mentioned here. Then there's a third category comprised entirely of a minority of one. Which is moi: the should have: old money rich, cash poor. Not that I have anything against Greenwich or A-list Super Social-ettes or anything. I mean, some of my best friends are ASS-ettes! But I, for one, have always prided myself on being a shade outside of the standard ASS-ette thing. I mean, an ASS-ette doesn't worry about getting good grades, or about her future, or about much of anything else for that matter, because, unlike a girl such as moi, her future is set...and she knows it!
Fortunately, I had no desire to follow in anyone's footsteps ASS-ette or otherwise. Which is where Evie, my very best friend in the entire universe, comes in. You see, for most of our lives, Evie and I had dreamed of a life outside the mainstream, of blazing new trails. In other words, we were ambitious. And even though Evie didn't share the same financial issues as me, at least I had a partner in crime so to speak.
Which brings me back to where I started, and the burning question: So what is an ambitious, trail-blazing girl such as moi with a reputation relief fund on the verge of bankruptcy to do?
Well, up to now I had three secret weapons:
1) The twins. Babysitting the Andersen twins the last three years has been a great gig! At 3:00 Chester, the family driver, picks me up at school, twins in car (Maybachs are so comfy!). We swing up to North Street, where Chester drops us at the Ivan Lendl Tennis Center. Ivan grabs the kids. While they do tennis, I get to work. I promptly check my Sidekick for the daily deluge of e-mail for my fashion column, mostly from my network of private school stringers (thank you Friendster). I return e-mails, IM Evie, and, of course, get my homework done. Then we dash back to the Andersens', where I help the twins with their homework. When Friday rolls around, Elsa (the cook) hands me an engraved Smythson envelope containing my salary. Chester takes me home and all is well with the world. Now, $150 a week may sound like a lot of money, but believe me, I earned every penny of it. I mean, the Andersens got more than mere babysitting services. Mrs. Andersen would have had the twins in Lacoste all year if it hadn't been for me turning her on to Fred Perry. In Greenwich you always have to stay at least one step ahead of the curve (or in this case, the serve). She was so grateful, she gave me a $2,000 Christmas bonus last year (which completely boosted my holiday spirit)!
2) Estate sales and preemptive raiding of GCA charity gift shop. I mean, this season's heavenly python Fendi bag? At $20 it's totally unreal! I mean, in Greenwich, vintage takes on a whole new meaning. As an unspoken rule, no A-list Super Socialite (ASS), or A-list Super Socialette worth her weight in Gucci would be caught dead wearing anything more than three times. (Given my current financial status, my personal "use-by" date runs a tad longer.) So finding a good sale is like winning all the toys in a toy store. I mean, just yesterday, I couldn't believe my luck. How often do you find 150 yards of Christian LaCroix hand embroidered chiffon draped, gathered, and ruched to perfection? Well I had to have it. You never know when you'll need a ball gown at the last minute. And if you're as deep a thinker as moi, it stands to reason that if you're going to be on the best-dressed list someday, you have to start looking the part today. I mean, it's only logical that what I buy today will be vintage in 10 years. And Lord knows what things will cost in 10 years. So if you think about it, I'm actually getting a designer wardrobe tomorrow at today's bargain basement prices.
3) Evie. My third and ultimate secret weapon in the battle of the budget was my very best and sweetest girlfriend, Evie. We have this whole system down. It's called shop and return. Once a month we take the train into the city to shop the stores. Jeffrey, Barneys; Soho, Upper East Side, Lower East Side. Me for my fashion column, and Evie for her clothing collection. We sketch, photograph, and buy samples. Then we scurry back home, where Evie copies the pattern, sews it up, and voilà, instant Prada!
So up until now everything was just hunky dory. But alas, things change. First, Mr. Andersen was suddenly transferred back to Switzerland avec les twins, so my fashion fund went pfffffft.
Second, let's face it, estate sales are not as hush-hush as they used to be. I mean everyone's into them now yes (gasp!) even A-list Super Socialettes. And third, as for Evie stitching up Prada knockoffs pour moi, let's just say her father had other ideas for her which took up all her free time. Namely, a job at McDonald's. And as her best friend, I couldn't possibly let her take that after-school job without me. Ergo, Evie and I put our heads together and figured out how we could make the most of a not-so-great situation. In other words, we had a plan. A big plan. Looking back though, the problem with us was that we just couldn't leave well enough alone. As serendipity would have it, that turned out to be a good thing because that's when fate came along and changed everything.
Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Barham.
Meet the Author
Sujean Rim is an illustrator whose work is often seen on DailyCandy. She lives in New York City.
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