We make our way towards Montmartre, home of The Moulin Rouge. Passing an array of magasins selling erotic memorabilia and dramatic head-pieces, we follow the bright red lights and the momentous fan. I tiptoe out of the taxi, overwhelmed by what I see. Women wearing vibrant feather boas float around the entrance provocatively. But before I can fully take in the spectacle, I’m taken backstage through a door of hanging jewels that twirl and rattle in the breeze. I watch the reflection of each bead bounce off the surrounding walls, made up of slanted mirrors, magazine cut-outs, messages written in lipstick and remnants of spray-on fake tan. I walk past heavily made-up women in lavish, cleavage-inducing costumes and faux diamonds, and I immediately hold on more tightly to the real ones I’ve just been given. I want to ask what all the fuss is about, until he takes me to a glamorous room set behind a red velvet curtain. Lipsticks, hairbrushes, combs, curlers, and bottles of the dearest perfumes are neatly lined on the glass top of a majestic dresser. I bring my hand to my mouth and turn to face him. “Oh you shouldn’t have” I whisper, but when I turn around I see that he’s disappeared.
I slip on the emerald green dress, being careful not to catch the zip on my pale skin. It fits perfectly. I powder my nose with a brush as soft as cashmere, watching the silky particles softly melt into my complexion. Opening five different lipsticks, I find the perfect shade. With one short lick of lipstick my lips turns from neutral pink to a deep, bloody scarlet. With a black eyeliner pen I gently draw one small black beauty spot above my lip. Opening a bottle of perfume I breathe in the pungent scent, an aroma of rose and vanilla tingling my nostrils.
Just as I’m about to open the box from Tiffany’s, my wealthy suitor enters the suite. I’ve never seen a man look so dapper. His hair is perfectly coiffed, wearing his tuxedo like he’d been born in it. “Wow”, I hear myself saying. He nods at me. “You don’t scrub up too badly yourself” he says, causing me to giggle. “Scrub up - it’s a phrase you people say in England, yes?” he comments. I nod, equally amused by the phrasing of “you people”.
I hand the diamonds to my glamorous cavalier who neatly places them on my chest before delicately fixing the clasp. All the while I’m staring into the mirror which is reciprocating the finest elegance. I touch the diamonds with the tips of my fingers and feel the lightness of his warm breath resting on my scalp.