It is mid-afternoon when we gather together to commence the rehearsal show. It will take a few run-throughs to get it right. Everyone is on edge, now that the time is close at hand. Four beautiful female models join us. Nervous chattering and giggles pepper the air. From behind them, Terry Beggerman appears. She is a tall and thin woman with a superbly coiffed, honey-coloured beehive and a perfectly made up face. Large, designer-style, prescription glasses sit on her nose with schoolmarmish precision; the carefully controlled facade is belied every now and then by expressive eyebrow movements.
“Girls! Order. Please! You are models from Silhouette Studio.” The curt and authoritative voice even makes me stand to attention.
Thankfully, Eugenio appears from the front room. Terry is what Esther and I call, una carogna (a bitch). She thinks she knows everything and, once her mind is made up, nothing will change it. I suppose that comes from running a successful modelling agency, even if it is in a tiny country in Southern Africa.
“Come on. Who’s going to go first?” This same frosty voice has grown impatient, as the models hold back. They are wary of walking on the thick glass of the catwalk.
Eugenio knows he must lead by example. “Ehi, guardami! Hey, watch me!” His masculine commanding voice breaks through the taut silence. “Io vado primo! I’ll go first!”
With all eyes trained on Eugenio, he proceeds slowly but confidently down the glass runway, between the group of staff gathered on either side. The custom-fit under-lights shine up. His business-suited figure is silhouetted dramatically, as if he’s on a movie set. He makes a frivolous twirl at the end of the walkway and then, spying Marla, extends his arm with a flourish. Marla is delighted by such a playful performance and the invitation to walk back up the runway with him. The effect is even more alluring. Marla’s willowy figure seems to elongate and takes on an ethereal quality, as it is caught in the upward beams. It’s no surprise that everyone suddenly wants a turn on the passarella!
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