Culture Humor

Catherine Visits Madame Kim’s Fitting Salon

Haute couture is not affordable, but with a little imagination one can always imagine.

Photo: CIM Productions

Her blissful ignorance on full display, Catherine purposely promenaded the shopping arcade in a stately manner. In her mind, the cocooned avenue was populated by a gamut of variegated boutiques (Dior, Louis Vuitton, and the likes) on either side of the bustling lane wherein other boulevardiers also habitually made public constitutionals. In reality, the shops were the usual common labels, and the meandering people quite average.

Despite a few interruptions to critically examine and syllogistically deduce the latest fashions in vogue from the mod accouterments worn by the porcelain mannequins stationed at the façades of the clothiers, Catherine’s final destination was inevitably “Madame Kim’s Fitting Salon” – her own appellation, for no one else called it so.

Said shop was of Lilliputian proportions; a large cupboard would have sufficed for an excuse. It was compactly wedged betwixt a 1$ retailer and a heretical, uncertified apothecary. Although Kim’s was housed in an uncouth division of this common galleria, Catherine had the innate propensity to imagine things to be upmarket. By the same token, the ‘Fix & Mend’ shop was a walk-in type of place. However, this did little to deter Catherine from phoning in ahead of time to arrange a suitable appointment.

A petite elderly lady with Oriental features, Mrs. Kim was a microcosm of that friendly grandmother which every Chinese child wants around the household for manipulation purposes. She was a patient woman, spoke little herself and preferred to listen to her interlocutor’s speeches and lamentations. By manipulating her physiognomy and offering up her million-dollar smile, she was forever able to discern her customer’s desires, calm their nugatory immateriality, and solve the submitted dilemmas by dint of supreme dexterity. All her bourgeois customers thought highly of her personality, but more importantly, they respected her sewing techniques and finesse for detail.

When finally arrived at the front counter next to the door that led into the cramped interior, Catherine without more ado, pressed the tarnished desk bell in order to distract Mrs. Kim’s attention from a pair of besmirched pants, likely belonging to some rogue or wayfarer; there is no doubt about this actuality, yet Catherine believed they were princely trousers made from the silks of Siam.

Easily excited at the prospect of any customer, Mrs. Kim promptly arose from the meditative state she was absorbed in while working on the pair of pauperized breeches, and shuffled over to greet the newcomer with her grandmotherly hospitality. At the sight of a loyal and repeat customer, the exorbitantly gladden Mrs. Kim
offered Catherine her killer, most penetrating smile as of date.

“Madame Kim, I am so pleased to see you,” said Catherine significantly.

“Hello” Mrs. Kim returned gently without withdrawing her majestic simper.

“I bought this new dress,” Catherine announced as she took out a diaphanous pale peach chiffon gown from a Chanel shopping bag that did not belong to her; “You wouldn’t believe how much it’s worth!”

Mrs. Kim nodded knowingly.

Catherine carefully laid out the dress on the reception desk.

“And I bought it at 70% off!” she quipped with a satisfied smirk.

“It’s very beautiful, Miss Catherine,” observed Mrs. Kim, approving the fabric before her.

“Isn’t it?” Catherine replied, accepting the compliment with practiced grace; “But it doesn’t fit perfectly,” she remarked, a hint of aristocratic hauteur in her voice.

Despite Catherine’s tone of displeasure, however, it was obvious to Mrs. Kim that Catherine was extremely pleased for being too slender for the dress.

“No worries, Miss Catherine,” came the grandmotherly assurance; “Mrs. Kim will fix it for you.”

So saying, she invited Catherine to take her dress into the corner of the workroom where curtains could be drawn to enclose a square space for disrobing and appareling; “the bijou abode” was the name Catherine ascribed to that small nook.

Once clothed in the toted raiment, Catherine sashayed a few steps into the middle of the unofficial catwalk, giving a full twirl at the end for the wispy textile to dance in the air, and then she turned to face Mrs. Kim, signaling that the fitting session was to commence.

On cue, Mrs. Kim grabbed the needle pillow on her cluttered workbench and shuffled towards the hubristic subject that was her assignment. After giving quick glances at the important areas and corners, she began the chore of pulling, tucking, and pinning the points that demanded her sartorial, critical expertise.

The job went on in a swift manner due to Mrs. Kim’s familiarity with her client’s bodily configurations and accentuating preferences; Catherine had been here with similar styled apparels on many occasions. The imperative and de rigueur markings taken into account, Mrs. Kim stood back respectfully so that Catherine could imagine from the reflection, how the finished product might look on her.

After taking a few minutes to contemplate the future of her vestment, Catherine thought it decidedly becoming, and offered no resistance to the suggestions pinned. Furthermore, additional proposals were futile and difficult, as all that was required had been done to perfection.

“It fits like a glove, Madame Kim,” observed Catherine, as pleased as a queen; “I can’t wait to wear the final version.”

So saying, Catherine sighed meaningfully; relieved that this dilemma would cease to overwork her worry gland as it had effectively done for the past few days prior to the
arranged appointment, during which time the anxiety had gratuitously disrupted
her productive fantasies of vainglory in other areas.

Returning into the curtained corner, Catherine changed into her original clothes with rapid movements, as she didn’t want to miss the half-hourly limousine that would whiz her from this garish plaza, back to her tinselly decorated dwelling.

Upon coming out, Mrs. Kim handed Catherine a collection ticket; which the latter accepted as if it were an invitation letter to the MET Gala, hosted by Anna Wintour.

“Thank you Madame Kim for your assistance today,” said Catherine, adopting the cheerful air of a young countess; “I know I can count on you to make the required adjustments.”

With that, Catherine left the tiny studio with her now empty Chanel shopping bag.

Mrs. Kim returned to her post in order to continue her favorite activity of cutting and sewing pieces of material together. Repairs to the vandalized, time-tested trousers were nearing completion.

By Boripat Lebel

Boripat Lebel is a research coordinator at the Unit for Social and Environmental Research at Chiang Mai University. He authored the eBook “A Vomit of Diamonds.” Boripat can also be found on LinkedIn .