Miranda pursed her lips as she examined the outfit on the mannequin.
There was a big difference between the sample that was created and detailed by hand and the one made by a machine on the production line. This meeting was the time to decrease that difference.
The design team all held their breaths as Miranda spoke. She picked up the gold scarf that was on the mannequin’s neck by the tip and handed it to the secretary.
“Get rid of this worthless thing.”
Soyoung quickly took the scarf and put it in the trash can.
Moonbong Hwang, the one who had designed the gold scarf, nervously stepped forward when Miranda call him.
“Do you know what a designer of T brand should never hear?”
Moonbong Hwang recalled the reason she had rejected the knit sweater yesterday.
“Tha-that it’s dull?”
Miranda’s brow furrowed at this reply.
“A person who creates dull things doesn’t deserve to be called a designer.”
That meant it was the wrong answer. Moonbong Hwang thought hard.
“That their sense of color is falling behind or that they don’t follow the trend…”
Miranda flicked her hands as if to say ‘Forget it.’
“It doesn’t draw me in. How can we sell a design in the name of T brand if it’s only fit for clothes sold in the marketplace? Such low class.”
Miranda’s hand remained on the top piece of the two piece suit. Sohye Shin, the one who made it, flinched in shock. She wasn’t reassured even when Miranda took her hand away.
“Don’t even make it if it’s a design you don’t want to have the moment you see it. It’s a mockery not only to me but to the consumers who trust and buy the T brand products.”
After Miranda finished saying this she gestured with her hands to tell them all to leave. The designers that survived were relieved, while Moonbong Hwang who designed the scarf put his head down.
A line of designers with their shoulders slumped came out from Miranda’s room after the terrifying meeting had finished. The photoshoot staff who saw this signaled with their eyes to ask what happened, but they couldn’t answer easily with Designer Hwang being so wounded.
“Those who are having the photoshoot meeting can go right in.”
Everyone grew nervous at secretary Soyoung Kim’s words. Minho, caught between them, was also grim-faced.
“She’s not so picky with models so you don’t need to worry too much.”
Eunha spoke brightly on purpose because she saw Minho becoming anxious as well. But she couldn’t smile like she usually did since she was nervous herself.
All the staff had entered and only Minho and Eunha were left at the entrance.
“Shall we go, Minho?”
“I’ll go first.”
Minho couldn’t bear tell her to go first so he took one step into Miranda’s space.
‘Be calm, be calm. Just blank out as much as you can.’
This determination was only for a moment. Images of clothes flowed in like a wave as soon as he entered.
Soyoung, standing by the door, was the first to be made over. The jacket of the semi-formal striped suit turned into a dress that emphasized her voluptuous beauty. Even the t-shirt of the female staffer walking by turned into a cool style tank-top that revealed her shoulders.
He was automatically revising whatever clothes he saw into designs that would sell well. His eyes were satisfied but inside his head was chaotic.
Minho caught his breath as he moved forward one step at a time and fixed his gaze on the room.
On one side of the office’s clean and modern interior was a worktable for sketching designs. On the other side was a mannequin and neatly organized clothes.
Minho understood that everything down to a small thimble was placed to work in the most efficient way. Unlike his first encounter, which had him breaking out in a cold sweat, the stable structure of the room brought him a relaxed feeling.
It was a workspace that seemed to bring together the strong points of all the designers who resided on the 20th floor.
‘It’s the best place to just concentrate on fashion.’
There was a reason why Miranda cherished this place.
The random images of clothes disappeared the more he looked at it and his heart became leisurely like a veteran designer of 25 years.
Minho looked around the room after becoming more comfortable. Then his gaze lighted on the design sketches that were laid out on the worktable. The drawings of the new clothes that were divided by theme showed the autumn season line that Minho and Eunha would wear for the photoshoot.
There were knit fabrics in autumn colors, a denim look using animal prints, and a cubism style with monocolor strips…. It also included a redesign of the sporty look that was a hit last year. There were ten new product lines and two extra additional lines.
They were perfect designs that didn’t need restructuring.
Minho felt an indescribable feeling of satisfaction towards the well-drawn sketches.
“Oh wow, how pretty! All the clothes in this quarter look good too.”
Eunha admired the sketches as well.
“They’ll definitely be eye catching and sell well if the clothes are produced exactly like the sketches.”
Minho unconsciously spoke from Miranda’s perspective, without a speck of humility.
“Minho, you seem to know design well?”
“I was just stating what’s clearly evident…”
Minho hastily changed his words as soon as he realized that he was even talking like temperamental Miranda.
“The top designer in this industry made these clothes. They’re really awesome. They’ll shine even more once you wear them, Eunha.”
Minho caught his breath and clapped a hand over his mouth that had almost gotten him in trouble. ‘Can’t believe I spoke so coldly to Eunha. It’s wrong no matter how accurate Miranda’s words are about fashion!’
In that moment, Miranda walked over to the worktable after taking a gulp of the soda that the secretary handed her.
“It seems everyone is here. It’s late so let’s start right away.”
Her high-pitched voice rang to the corners of the room even though she wasn’t speaking loudly. The photographer, photoshoot staff and the pictorial production staff all quickly stood around the worktable.
“Everyone probably knows each other. Eunha, it’s been a while.”
“How have you been, director?”
Eunha greeted her with a polite smile. Miranda looked at Eunha from top to bottom and nodded.
“You haven’t gained weight. Seems you maintained yourself well.”
That was rude in one sense but Minho nodded in agreement. A straightforward critique of a model’s body was an ordinary thing in the fashion world. Eunha was the best model in that sense since she maintained her satisfying figure for two years.
“This is Minho?”
“Yes, nice to meet you.”
Miranda’s gaze swept over Minho.
“Hmmm. We won’t have to adjust the fit for you.”
She turned her eyes straight ahead. Minho automatically looked down at his body.
A completely ordinary body.
A top level model doesn’t fit the standard size of average men and women in Korea so the clothes are adjusted to fit the western size. But Minho didn’t need it. He perfectly fit the clothes that came right from the production line.
‘I don’t have the height of a professional model or the inverted triangle figure.’
It stung but he understood. The straightforward critique of his body ended with Minho smiling wryly. If he was someone like his junior Garam who had a stomach with a personality of its own and would rub it while ordering a supply of meat, then it wouldn’t be a matter-of-fact evaluation but it would be a harsh comment that would make him cry and leave the room.
‘I should work out while I’m at it. Wear the awesome clothes awesomely.’
Miranda and Sangwon Hong, the pictorial editor, did most of the talking in the meeting.
“Which clothes should we put up for the advertisement in September’s ‘Fashion Issue’?”
“How many pages?”
“We were assigned four pages.”
Miranda gestured at a sketch on the desk.
“Three sets from the main line for male and female…”
Then she fell into contemplation. Even the photoshoot staff who didn’t interact with her normally knew not to talk to her at that moment.
Minho who was carefully listening to the conversation fell into the same contemplation as he looked at the sketch.
‘Is the problem the design of the rival company? It’ll be good to go with something that can blow away the ordinary pieces. Let’s see.’
Minho’s gaze fixed on one section of the sketch.
A one-piece oversized dress. It was an item that seemed one size too big, naturally revealing the collar bone. It was an active design while still accentuating the feminine look. It would work well adding a girlish cuteness to Eunha’s charms.
Minho nodded contentedly as he mentally overlapped the dress with the image of Eunha. Then his eyes met Miranda’s, who was nodding the same way he was.
He quickly avoided eye contact.
Miranda pointed to the same sketch that Minho was thinking about.
“Go with this one.”
Miranda’s mood went sour once they began to talk about the accessories from a subcontracted company.
“Do you think shoes with rhinestones will suit this? Maybe if the theme was Cinderella’s ball. I prepared for the autumn season but it seems like you prepared for a fairytale season, Editor Hong.”
“I’ll… I’ll get some other shoes.”
“So you’re saying you couldn’t even get a mere pair of shoes during the three months the design team prepared dozens of clothes?”
In a moment Miranda had her arms crossed and was deep in thought. The pictorial production team staff’s faces went pale.
Minho, examining the rhinestone shoes, thought of wrapping silk ribbons around them after taking off all the rhinestones.
‘No. That’s not enough.’
As soon as he thought of one design, he thought of covering them with a satin or velvet fabric or dyeing the front of the heel purple.
‘So it didn’t subside.’
It was just that the scope to think ran out. Minho crossed his arms and fell into deep thought just like Miranda who had to think until she came up with a satisfying design.
A minute passed just like that.
Miranda stood from her seat as if she had thought of something.
Minho flicked his finger almost at the same time so Miranda glared at him as to say ‘What the?’ Minho quickly put his head down and flipped the pages of last years pictorial as if nothing had happened. He stayed like this till Miranda’s pursed lips relaxed and she looked away.
‘…She’s not looking at me now, is she?’
Minho glanced to the side and saw that Miranda had opened one door of the closet and was taking out a box. Everyone was just watching Miranda’s movements but Eunha mumbled curiously,
“What do you think she’s doing?”
Minho let out a dry cough and whispered.
“If sapphires replace the clear rhinestones they’ll go with the precious stones in the number four line bangles. The color goes well with the sky blue.”
“Huh? What did you just say?”
Miranda brought out two sapphire rhinestone before Minho could explain any further so their conversation ended.
“Replace the rhinestones with these. Forget about getting new shoes and cut off business with the subcontractor if their quality is like this.”
The topic of discussion turned to the photoshoot.
“How is the set background?”
“We went with the theme of autumn leaves.”
The set staff handed over the picture they had taken of the completed set. Miranda laughed without even glancing at the photo.
“Leaves? In the autumn? Very creative.”
That meant do it over. Miranda was not just a designer but the director of the entire project, and she was very particular. Minho laughed as well without making a sound.
Miranda narrowed her eyes and glared at Minho.
“Do you have another opinion, Mr. Minho?”
The atmosphere in the room went cold at this sudden question. Eunha turned to Minho, looking flustered.
Minho thought he had laughed quietly but Miranda’s sharp eyes hadn’t missed it. Minho kept a straight face as he answered.
“The background is a simple problem. We just need to adjust the white color. Go with a deep tone if you want an elegant and classy feeling. Go with a natural tone if you want a calm and exotic feeling. There are a lot of warm colored clothes so if we go with the autumn leaves background, we have to be careful so it doesn’t become like a picture puzzle.”
Eunha seemed surprised as she looked at Minho.
Miranda looked satisfied.
“I wish our staff knew as much as Mr. Minho here.”
The frigid air turned pleasant again and the staffer in charge of the set threw Minho a grateful look.
The meeting wrapped up after about 30 minutes.
“So, let’s get a move on. Report every time there’s an update on the photoshoot.”
Everyone got up from their seats in response to Miranda’s directions.
Minho was about to walk out the office, satisfied that he had made it through the meeting safely.
Someone jostled against him as they came running in.
It was Manager Sukyoung Yoon from the marketing team. He was breathing heavily from running. Miranda frowned when she saw him.
“What’s all the commotion?”
“Look, look at this article! The Yesung Wool company released five clothing sets with the same concept as us!”
Miranda’s cheek twitched.
“They copied the design of a new product that hasn’t been released yet?”
“I don’t know how it happened.”
It was very common in this industry for others to copy the clothes designs of famous companies. That’s why there’s brand credibility and a premium attached to the brand logo. But it’s a different story if the copy gets released first.
Minho got the same serious look on his face as Miranda since he understood it in an instant.
‘Is that’s the case, this could make the photoshoot meaningless.’
Minho had one foot through the door, but he fixed his gaze on Miranda who was in serious contemplation. Then Minho started to contemplate the same thing.