Parties were meant to be fun, Francine thought as she flicked through the dresses on her ‘Summer Cocktail’ rail. The dressing room of her sea view penthouse had been designed with efficiency in mind. Efficiency, and luxury, two talisman that guided Francine de la Hague through life, generally serving her well.
During ‘on’ weeks in the summer, Francine might have expected to attend at least five different functions, what with everything going on in the Islands, and a few flits to France and the UK.
‘Summer Cocktail’ encompassed a selection of gorgeous dresses, mostly fitted or even body con, she wore to lunch parties, dinners, dates, and full on parties.
It was flanked one side by ‘Summer Formal’ which included suits for weddings and Royal Ascot (shoulders covered and below the knee), and summer ball gowns … not that one really needed so many these days, most charities preferring to save grand occasions for later in the year. Still, you never knew when someone might drop an invitation to something you didn’t expect, such as a black-tie evening wedding, for which one really did need a summer ball gown.
‘Resort Wear’ occupied the rail to the other side; a collection of the prettiest floaty numbers, bright coloured silk dresses you could wear on a sultry evening in the Caribbean, cream linen for trips to South-East Asia, and a rather divine pink zebra kaftan she had bought for Esmerelda Pilkington’s pool party three summer’s back. That had been a big hit, even with Monochrome Lydia, dressed that day in white and gold, who had been quite taken by Francine’s rather more outré outfit.
There were, of course, many more rails, six in fact, containing the rest of Francine’s Channel Islands’ wardrobe.
The problem with never changing size meant you could never get rid of clothes that no longer fitted. And the problem with fashion, was that the minute one got rid of clothes because they had been ‘out of fashion’ so long, was the minute they were about to come back in.
A rather sad incident in the 1990s with a YSL dress meant Francine was now reluctant to part with anything hastily.
She had plenty to wear for that evening’s party, but nothing filled her with enthusiasm.
From the porthole style window, she could see the bay, fringed with a sheath of sand. The tide was rising and would probably be full by the time the party started, far, far away on the other side of the Island.
She would have to go through the tunnel, twice. The thought filled her with dismay. Why did no one seem to live out east anymore? It was as if once people got past the point where school runs ended, they all fled west.
Francine had never been burdened with the horrors of school runs, nor any of the other horrors children generally beget. She just felt the eastern parishes had more charm, the country lanes wound more tightly around ancient granite corners, there was a mellowness to the air, something that rendered winter a touch more civilized.
But now everyone lived out west, she felt a bit out of sorts. Her fingers ran over the pink zebra kaftan. Was it really three years since she’d last worn it? Esmerelda’s pool party had been the last big bash at her old house – a delightful country residence just a short taxi ride, or a moderate walk, from Francine’s apartment.
The new house, smaller, easier to manage, and with better views, didn’t have a pool but instead had a vast terrace overlooking St Brelade’s Bay. Sunsets for your sunset years. At least, that’s what Esmeralda’s children said after their mother had kindly released enough capital for them to buy their own homes.
When Francine was younger, and still of a breeding age, she had wondered whether it would be prudent to have a child but the idea of procreating as an ‘insurance policy’ against old age seemed riskier than actually taking out an insurance policy, then using the money to pay for carers. She’d seen too many family rifts to fall into the trap of believing you could rely on anyone related to you to look after you, or even care if you were looked after.
Anyway, she had no plans to get old. Twice-weekly sessions with a personal trainer, and twice-yearly sessions with an aesthetician ensured she looked 10 years younger than her passport claimed. Letting go was not an option … at least not until she’d found a man she was happy growing old with.
Until then, there would be botox and bad boys, fillers and fun. Francine pulled out the last dress on the rack, an original gold Hervé Léger bandage dress. She had been a bit curvier when she’d first worn it, over 20 years’ before, but it still had enough sparkle on her to put some pop into the dullest night.
Francine pulled out her phone, maybe she would let Juan Carlos escort her to the party after all.
Join the Island Wives again next Friday.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or undead, or actual events is purely coincidental.