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Challenges 9 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Challenges 9
Something with Effie and Fashion/Glamour? (maybe helping design a clothing line or something?) for nevrafire

Glamour Gab
with Latona Lake

Darlings, the Gab is back!

Of course, it's no longer Games Gab -- the horrid things are over forever -- but then, let's be honest, we were never really here to talk about the Games, anyway. It was always about the glamour here at the Gab, and now we can have it without any tragedy to spur it on. Not only that, my loves, but we can have glamour from thirteen districts as well as the Capitol now!

Yes, you heard right -- glamour has come to the Districts. As might be expected, District One is leading the way, with gowns positively dripping with crystals. But (and I must warn you, this will be a bit confusing), District Seven victor Johanna Mason is bringing glamour to District Two -- on the arm of her District Twelve "best friend," District Two's hunky Capitol liaison, Gale Hawthorne, no less! While she was initially criticized for immediately replacing her designer wardrobe, her personal flair has been inspirational to the war-shocked citizens, many of whom have discovered the healing power of fabulosity in the two years since hostilities ceased. "I didn't fight a war for the right to wear gray pajamas," Mason says, referring to the positively horrible fashion of District Thirteen's recent past. "I could do that before. So could everyone else. I'm going to dress however I want to dress."

Speaking of District Thirteen, the infamous "gray pajamas" are slowly disappearing. While a distinctive style has yet to appear, many in the underground corridors are taking their inspiration from their large immigrant group from District Twelve -- not glamorous, but certainly softer and more personable than their old look. Oversized beaten leather jackets, inspired by Katniss Mellark, have become quite the rage.

District Eight's re-built textile factories have been turning out fine cloth at reasonable prices, and now fashion is becoming accessible even to the most far-flung corners of Panem. District Eleven's Winnow Robinson -- a war hero of District Four; my goodness things are confusing now! -- has been spotted wrapped in soft, colorful woolen shawls. Robinson, who admits to holding fashion in low regard in the past, now believes that the war has given everyone the right to things we once enjoyed only here in the Capitol.

But let us be honest -- for all of the wonders of the District renaissance, the real fashion story remains here in the Capitol, as we prepare for President Paylor's first inaugural Ball... our celebration of the first election under our new, fabulous Constitution!

And who could be better prepared to call the fashion shots than the Gab's old friend, former District Twelve escort, Effie Trinket? (Or is it Effie Abernathy these days? She and victor Haymitch Abernathy have certainly set up housekeeping together in an adorable cottage in the foothills neighborhood, and rumors of secret nuptials in Twelve are absolutely swirling, darlings, but if there was a "toasting," Effie isn't talking! Perhaps it's time for us to take a train out to District Twelve and have a few long chats with neighbors, beginning with Katniss and Peeta Mellark.)

Well, single or married, Effie is still President Paylor's right-hand woman. For two years, she's kept the president on schedule, kept the events running smoothly, and yes... led the way for the return of fashion! Working with Capitol designers -- those few who remain from the old days, and new graduates of the Style Institute (including the first District graduates!) -- Effie has found way to balance the seriousness of the post-war days with the beauty and lightness of recovery.

Gone is her old signature flamboyance. In keeping with the new world, her own fashion choices have been more practical, simpler -- inspired in great part by District Twelve's late stylist, Cinna, whose understated fashions have driven many recent trends. But the simplicity allows the brilliant accents to come through. Flower-shaped blue and yellow glass buttons glitter on a meadow-green suit. A wide gold filigree belt encircles a simple red lace dress.

"I won't give up my shoes, though," she says, grinning and putting on a bright gold pair of pumps to match the belt. "I promised Delly that I would make sure shoes came back." (Gabbers, we believe she means Delilah Cartwright, a District Twelve woman whose parents operated a shoe store.)

Her sunny home office is filled with work tables, covered with sketchbooks from designers of all backgrounds. Dress forms display work in various stages of completion, and her foster child, Solana Vole, pins hems while we talk.

"The inaugural ball isn't just a political thing," Effie says. "It's..." She smiles. "Oh, I suppose it sounds silly, but it's like coming out of the hospital after being sick for a long time. Maybe the old things don't feel right anymore, but you just want to get out of the hospital clothes and say, 'I'm alive and I'm healthy.' Does that make any sense?"

At the Gab, we are more likely to say it's like finally being released from prison, but that's a sensitive subject for too many, so we'll go with Effie's analogy. Still... FREEDOM!

The work Effie has been doing with the designers has been an attempt to bring fashion into the new Panem -- and to bring the new Panem into fashion. President Paylor's gown was one of the first projects completed, though no amount of cajoling will convince her to give us a sneak peak. "It wasn't easy!" Effie says. "She's a serious person with a serious job, but she's also a lovely woman. There were people who said that she should ignore that and just dress in some kind of business suit. But really, why should being a lovely woman mean she isn't a serious person and a great president? Why should someone 'serious' have to pretend to be a man? And a dour one at that? So that was our first balancing act."

Other "balancing acts" have involved Effie's insistence on making more clothes affordable for more people (designers, of course, want to use the most expensive materials and techniques) and showcasing freedom while maintaining a proper level of formality for the event. "I've heard people complain that no one should care if everyone shows up in denims, but really... people do care. It may not make sense, but that's the way it is. And besides... it's fun to have an occasion to dress up for! Just some day when you can be different from any other day!"

To this end, Effie and the designers are making a line of very affordable formal clothes, for people in the districts who want to hold balls of their own. How are the famously austere districts taking it?

Effie laughs. "Katniss was delighted, at any rate. She'll be wearing one of her Cinna gowns. And they're positively giddy in Thirteen, as I understand it. The whole Promenade is already being decorated. District Four means to have an open air formal on the beach. I understand District Ten means to hold something called a 'hoedown.' Polly Dalton tells me they'll be wearing traditional District Ten finery. She's quite excited for a chance to wear her best calico."

Judging by the exuberant piles of sketches, she's not the only one.

I totally really loved your Harry Potter/Hunger Games crossover where haymitch read the books to them. Can we pleaseeeeeeeeeee have more of that? for Anon

According to Effie, first anniversary presents are supposed to be made out of paper. I think she was apologizing for Haymitch handing Peeta a box of what looked like old scrap, but I can't think of anything that would have made him happier. And when he's happier, I'm happier.

Besides, I like the stories, too.

We found the series of books about the boy wizard, Harry Potter, under one of Haymitch's floorboards last year, after he ran out of liquor but before he went back to the Capitol. I knew he was trying to find a copy of the series for Peeta's birthday, and when it didn't show up, I figured he just hadn't been able to. Books aren't always easy to get, especially the old ones.

But when Haymitch and Effie came up just before our anniversary, with the heavy box, I kind of suspected what was in it, and so I was watching Peeta's face when he carefully drew out the first battered, dusty book. His eyes got wide. "Haymitch... you found them!"

"All seven," Haymitch said. "Knock yourself out. Those are about five hundred years old, according to Plutarch. A team excavating outside District Three found a whole library."


"Now, Plutarch says that they're going to see about getting some of the old stories back in print. But I thought you might like the real thing."

"Yeah, definitely..."

"He also says that when he does put some new editions together, he might want an illustrator."

This brought a dazed smile that lasted most of the evening.

In the six months since, we have read the books out loud to each other, from the light-hearted beginning through a tense, sad ending -- with a deadly Game in the middle that Harry ends up being, for all intents and purposes, Reaped for. I would have given it up as a bad job, except that Harry really did live happily ever after when it was all done. I made Peeta read the epilogue to me several times. I really want to believe the epilogue. I don't, quite. But I want to. Someday, I will. I promise myself that. Someday, I will believe it. I know Peeta wants to believe it, too, though we promise each other solemnly that, should we ever have children, none of them will be named "Albus Severus."

I picture Harry's three children, and Ron and Hermione's two, and Lupin's son, and Fleur's daughter, and the autumn day that's crisp like an apple as they head for the train station. Peeta even paints it for me, so I can see it better. At the bottom, he paints the last words of the series: "All was well." My nightmares sometimes include the Battle of Hogwarts now, only with all of my friends fighting in it, and when I wake up, I look at the picture of the apple-day, and I remember that the war is over -- Harry's war, and, just maybe, mine.

All was well.

Now that the weather is getting warm, Peeta takes the books out to the pavilion on the green every day to read them out loud to the local kids. The pavilion was set up for our wedding, but no one has ever felt a need to take it down. It's a handy place for people to gather. The kids sit behind Peeta, on a table, where they can actually see the old pages and the illustrations and pretty type. They've made it up to Halloween, a holiday apparently at the end of October, which they are very keen to try celebrating.

Of course, in the book, it's interrupted by a troll. After being cruel to their future best friend, Hermione, Ron and Harry realize that the troll is about to find her crying in the girls' bathroom.

"'It was the last thing they wanted to do,'" Peeta reads, "'but what choice did they have? Wheeling around, they sprinted back to the door and turned the key, fumbling in their panic. Harry pulled the door open and they ran inside. Hermione Granger was shrinking against the wall opposite, looking as if she was about to faint.'" He hunches up his shoulders and raises his arms up, pretending to be a troll. His voice drops down. "'The troll was advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the walls as it went...'"

"No way!" Sam Cartwright says. "Hermione can do any spell. She could totally beat that troll!"

"Not when she's upset!" Daisy Darby counters. "You can't do magic when you're all upset."

"Says who?"

"Everyone knows that."

"How can everyone know something about something that's not real?"

"It's not just the magic," I say, looking up from a turkey I've been plucking. "Sometimes when you're upset, you forget anything you can do. Or when you're startled. If a big troll drops in on you while you're on the toilet, maybe."

Sam considers this. "Okay. Yeah. I guess."

"Can I go on now?" Peeta asks.

The kids cheer. He finishes the story of Harry and Ron coming to Hermione's rescue, then Hermione protecting them from the teachers' wrath -- the beginning of a friendship that will go through the next several books.

The kids listen attentively.

All, for the moment, is well.
14 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 15th, 2013 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Apple Day

Very sweet. I love Katniss's matter-of-factness about Hermione maybe not being at her best due to surprise.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2013 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Apple Day

Well, action-girl recognizes action-girl!
dragonzair From: dragonzair Date: June 16th, 2013 07:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my God these two are probably my favorites you've done so far. I love that Effie and Haymitch's relationship is just as vague as Johanna and Gale.

I got ridiculously teary over the second one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2013 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, maybe not quite as vague -- at least they admit they're living together -- but yeah...
valerie_valerah From: valerie_valerah Date: June 16th, 2013 07:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Harry Potter. I am filled with warm fuzzies.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Harry does bring the warm fuzzies. :D
shortysc22 From: shortysc22 Date: June 16th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved the perspective you chose for Effie's bit with fashion, using a talk show to glimpse into the fashion post-War.

The Harry Potter bits were excellent and I loved the bit of them needing an illustrator and how Katniss views the epilogue.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2013 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's good to make some use of my reading of fashion blogs! :D
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: June 18th, 2013 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, do you read wendylady2? She's a buyer and dresser for a UK store and she does all the runways and red carpets.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 19th, 2013 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I mostly read Tom and Lorenzo, occasionally popping in with the Fug Girls.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: June 17th, 2013 01:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, Katniss's take on the Harry Potter books certainly makes me see them in a new way, but it seems entirely believable for her. It's nice that they give her hope.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2013 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I was going to have a piece from Goblet of Fire, but then I realized it would freak Katniss right the hell out!
nevrafire From: nevrafire Date: June 18th, 2013 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG OMG OMG I love mine!

I love how much it talked about fashion into the new panem and people being happy and EFFIE AND HAYMITCH EEEEH!

where's indigo?

thnk you
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2013 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Indigo's several years in the future at this point!
14 comments or Leave a comment