After five flights of stairs I was out of breath. “Huff….Huff……Gasp….Please be open!” I silently prayed. My clothing & textile department store was my emergency go to place. It was almost dinner time and everyone would be heading out to eat soon. “Knock knock”, I placed my ears against the door. I desperately hoped someone was in. I gently twisted the knob……. “Thank God!”, I said to myself. “您好: Hello”, I said to the lady at the front counter. “你好: Hello”, she replied and immediately went back to scrolling through her phone. I went behind the counter to look for the urgent item I needed to complete my luxury crème colored jumpsuit. I held up the fabric to find a perfect match.
“这个多少钱长的黑色拉链？: How much is this long black zipper?“I asked the lady in front. “这是7元: It is 7 yuan“, she replied looking up from her phone. “有多少你想？: How many would you like?“, she asked. “我只想有一个谢谢: I just want one thank you“, I replied. I had just spotted a black long zipper that I thought would go perfectly with the jumpsuit I was creating. The price was just seven yuan. It was a very reasonable price. “I probably would be coming here often to buy sewing items“, I thought to myself. I left the store and walked back to my office. It’s been almost four weeks now. I didn’t think I was going to make it till the end of my Fashion Design class. I recently found out that my team and I each had to design and create an outfit. I literally had only one week to make my luxurious outfit! I had been jumping around like a headless chicken for the past days now and I couldn’t get a proper goodnight sleep. I was going to have to pull an all nighters’ again in my studio today. I was really getting somewhere with my creation and I was kind of excited to see how it would turn out. That’s what I loved so much about being a designer. There is no doubt that it takes a lot of time and effort but the outcome is always very rewarding. “You still have to schedule your official photo shoot“, I mentally reminded myself as I furiously typed a reminder on my phone. From a distance I looked out the windows across the stairs. It was getting dark outside. I stepped into my office. “Let the work begin“, I said…….
It was 12:00AM and time for me to leave my studio. I picked up my phone checking to see if I had any calls or messages. I was glad Jasper had given me a heads up on his schedule. Jasper was a friend of mine and an amazing photographer. He had agreed to take pictures of my creations from the: La Fleur Collection. My team members were all working on their pieces. I fished through my untidy office desk for my keys. “Gotcha!“, I said grabbing it. I picked up my red hardcover drawing pad and my grey slim acer laptop as I gently tucked them into my bag-pack. I contemplated whether to clear up my sewing equipments from the studio table or not. “Nah“, I said. I’m probably going to be the first one in the office tomorrow morning. I stopped by the mirror to adjust my head-scarf quickly as I turned off the lights and locked the door.
Next Few Days………
“Yes“. “Did you get the list I sent to your WeChat?“. “Uhumm“. “Okaaay, I’ll be up there in a few minutes“, I said hanging up the phone. I was scheduled to meet Ehuang my fitting model today. Jun introduced Ehuang to me. Jun and I met on my first week at the Clothing and textile department. She was a fourth year student and an intern as a wedding designer in Shanghai. She wanted to practice her English with me and I wanted to improve my Mandarin (it was perfect!). We became friends from then. Ehuang was waiting for me in my studio. I was really glad to have Jun around. She was so nice and helpful. We had so much to talk about as designers and our common love for languages. She was also fluent in Japanese. She tried to teach me a few words but I have to admit I struggled terribly. Jun held up the sleeves as I looked for my pin-cushion. “Where is that pin-cushion?“, I asked as I grabbed the last piece of lace fabric I was holding and placed it under the sewing machine. I had four days left to complete my jumpsuit, do the photo-shoot, edit the pictures, put everything together with my team, and then present it to my teacher. “Done!”, I said out loud. “Oops“, I must have said it a little too loud because the girl across from me with the grey hemming machine looked up at me. I smiled sheepishly at her. I’m sure she understood the excitement I felt at that moment. I was finally done with the jumpsuit I’d been working on tirelessly for days. I carefully placed the luxe crème lace Jumpsuit in its protective dress bag. I had to walk carefully to the exit door because it was a mad house in the sewing room. Students moved swiftly everywhere. I passed a girl sporting a fitted white leather jacket as she twirled around the wide tall mirror. “外套的背部是如何看？: How is the back of my jacket?“, I heard the girl ask her friend as I gently closed the door.
An Hour Later………
“谢谢: Thank You” , I thanked Ehuang as we wrapped up our fitting day. Ehuang was a modeling student at Jiangnan University and a friend of Jun. I was glad to be working with her because she had such a friendly and bubbly personality. I went through a series of models who were really annoying to work with before Jun recommended her to me. She made me feel really excited for the photo-shoot tomorrow and I couldn’t wait to work with her again for other upcoming project. Zzzzzzzzzzz……I felt my phone vibrate at the back of my pocket. “Leila!“, I called from the phone. “Yes, I’m almost done…… Uhumm…..The halal canteen……Uhmmm……Why not!?!……Ok, meet you there in five“, I said clicking the end button. Leila and I were meeting up for an early dinner. I checked my digital watch on my phone, it was already 6:00PM. The time was flying by really fast. 6:00PM was usually the time my Chinese colleagues and probably the whole school goes out for dinner but to me I was still getting used to the early schedule for the different meal times. I grabbed my bag-pack and headed out. I didn’t want Leila to get there early and have to wait for me. She was probably going to use her “Vespa” to get there before me anyways. I stuck my head through my office door making sure I didn’t leave anything. “I’m good“, I said taking my keys out as I locked the door.
“Saalamualaykum“, I said to Leila as I hugged her. “Walaykumsalam“, Leila replied smiling. “Omg, you would not believe what happed today!“, Leila said with a dramatic face. “What? I have to hear this“, I said dragging her inside the restaurant. Leila always had a funny and interesting story to tell. It was never a bore being around her. We met on my first day of Chinese class. She sat next to me and shared her Mandarin textbook. After class we realized we lived in the same complex and decided to hang-out . We became inseparable after that. “My job interview was today“, Leila said. “Oh yeah! How was that?“, I asked. “You would not believe what the lady asked me during the interview“, she said. “What?“, I asked. “She had the audacity to ask me if I spoke African French or European French!“, she exclaimed. “What does that even mean!?! “, I exclaimed. “The Nerve!!!“, She said. “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard“, I replied. “I know right! I refuse to lie I came from Europe when I love my country and we speak French too!“, she exclaimed. Leila was from the beautiful Island of Comoro. She spoke French and Swahili fluently. It was her native language. She came to China to do her Masters and had been living there for four years. During those years she had been working on her English and was now fluent in it. She had an amazing talent when it came to languages. Besides class Leila normally taught French part-time. She had been applying relentlessly to International schools in Wuxi to work full time as a French teacher. The schools with managers that had not been out of the country were a little bit close minded. They had a ridiculous perception of who they wanted teaching the Language. “I’m sure you’ll find something better. You don’t want to be working with ignorant people anyways“, I said to her. I knew just what would cheer her up. “Let’s go watch a funny movie with cookies and ice-cream“, I said linking our arms as we walked out the restaurant. “I am so craving some right now“, she replied licking her lips. “Me too!“, I said laughing
The Next Day………
“Mei do you still need the red lipstick?“, I asked. “No, I don’t“, she replied tapping Ehuang’s face gently with powder. Mei was a math student who I met a while back when I was doing one of my “rush lunches”. It was such a coincidence that she was really good friends with Jun. She was into hair and make-up so she offered to assist me I couldn’t have asked for a better make-up artist. The weather was amazing and people were barely around. It was a perfect day to do the photo-shoot. We had all decided to camp out in one of the school’s awesome Chinese themed gazebo. Mei and I walked around Ehuang (My model) trying to prepare her for the photo-shoot. While Jasper and Leila sat on the other side of the Gazebo discussing about life. ” Oui! Oui!: Yes! Yes!“, I heard them from the other side. “Il est le même à Shanghai: It’s the same in Shanghai“, Jasper said to Leila as he took out different lenses for his camera. “Vraiment!?!: Really!?!“, Leila shrieked laughing out loud. “Oui: Yes“, Jasper said making that face he makes when he can’t stand something. ” De toute façon sur une meilleure note , je suis allé à Xi’an et je l’ai aimé: Anyway on a better note, I went to Xi’an and I loved it!“, he said. “c’est bien: that’s good“, she replied smiling. ” J’ai tant de photos , il est incroyable!: I have so many photos, it’s amazing!“, he said as he picked a len and screwed it in. “Jasper we’re ready!“, I called out. Ehuang stood up with a broad smile on her face. “Yes, I’m ready“. Ehuang was really tall, about 6’4”. I wasn’t even that short yet I felt like a dwarf next to her. She walked to the courtyard getting into character. It was a beautiful scenery. The lake stretched out in front of us. Beautiful Lotus flowers were all spread out in the water.
On the right, you could see the enormous brick steps adding a certain elegance to the view. I closed my eyes as I took a deep breath. “Maybe you should try turning this way with your chin facing up“, I heard Jasper telling Ehuang. When I turned around Jasper was in full photography mode. I watched for a few seconds before joining everyone in the fiasco.
The final Day……..
The day had finally come. My team and I were done with our project and ready to present. The class room was a mad house. Everyone needed to be in ten different places at the same time.” 李丽那里是我的心情板!: Li Li where is my mood board!“. “那就对了!: That’s right!“. “哈哈哈哈!: Hahaha!“. “我没有看到它的任何地方!: I do not see it anywhere!“. It was so loud. Everyone was talking at the same time. I could barely hear what Fang was saying to me. A girl rushed past me with her design in her arm almost tumbling over. She had the look of pure triumph. I could totally relate as I set my hand-out on the desk. Students arranged their designs on the table as their team members held up their mood board. There were all sorts of designs. From; the tropical, to punk, to the hip, and even the minimalistic. I looked at my design and my team members and smiled. I was really proud of us. I couldn’t believe we actually designed and created our looks in just a week. This was by far the best feeling ever.
“我希望你们都准备好展示: I hope you are all ready to show your works“, the teacher said as she walked in with her note and pen in hand. “是老师: Yes teacher“, a group of girls at the front row replied giggling. “好: Ok“, she said smiling as she walked around the classroom. I noticed that Lilly was not with teacher Zhōu today. She must have probably went back to school. Lilly was teacher Zhōu’s daughter. She went to school at the “Royal College of Art” in London and came to China when she was on breaks. She usually attended her mom’s class when they were in session. She was very helpful to me in the first week of class. Lucky for me, “the whole class was taught in Mandarin” (~sarcastic voice~). She was able to explain and translate what was going on. I scrolled through Fang’s laptop as I waited for the teacher to reach our table. “How did you like the project“, teacher Zhōu asked. “It was really fun and I got to experiment with different techniques and styles“, I replied as I logged off from Fang’s laptop quickly. She walked around our table looking at our mood board and the collection as Jocelyn pitched our brand to her. After the presentation we had the usual Q&A session. Then, the teacher gave her comments. She looked pleased as we all finished the presentation.
Official Photos [Click]
Behind-the-Scenes Photos [Click]
To be continued…………….