Scroll down to read part one of Gigi Goes to Paris.
Later that afternoon, Louise took Gigi to the Opera Garnier, where Antonioni Stiletto was holed up in his dressing room. Gigi felt refreshed. She'd taken a hot bath and a short nap and her aunt's cook had made her a watercress salad and a perfectly poached egg with slices of baguette for lunch. Despite her new energy, Gigi wasn't sure how she was going to convince Stiletto to take the stage that evening.
The Bentley deposited Louise and Gigi in front of the Opera. They dodged the rush of shoppers hurrying to Galeries Lafayette and Printemps and climbed the Opera's stairs. Inside, the Opera was quiet. The Chagall murals on the ceiling reflected pastel light. A directrice from the Opera came out to meet them, her heels clicking on the marble floors.
"Madame la Contesse, Mademoiselle," she said. "I'm so glad you're here! We're completely distraught. Stiletto still won't eat, and we had to have the understudy for the dress rehearsal. But if Stiletto doesn't go on, we must close the performance!"
"What can I do to help?" Gigi said.
"Perhaps you could take him a coffee and talk to him? Your aunt says you are very persuasive. You're our last hope," the directrice said as they walked back to the offices to fetch a Limoges saucer and espresso cup.
Gigi took the coffee back stage, then down a narrow hall, passing racks of elaborate costumes and a paster of paris horse in pieces. She knocked on the door marked "Stiletto". No one responded. She knocked again, this time louder.
"Avanti!" a voice inside the room said, and Gigi entered to find Stiletto stretched out on a chaise.
"Permesso," she said. "I brought you a coffee." Stiletto lived up to his name. Rather than filling the stereotype of the overfed, swarthy singer, like Pavarotti, Stiletto was thin with porcelain skin, almost angelic looking. Paradoxically, his voice was as full and true as any tenor who had graced the Opera Garnier's stage.
"I don't drink coffee. I don't drink anything. I don't eat anything, either. Why eat? One eats to live, and I do not wish to live anymore!" Stiletto said and sighed in anguish. Gigi noticed a few rumpled wrappers from the nearby McDonald's under his chaise.
"Signor Stiletto," Gigi said, "It brings me so much pain to see such an artist as you suffer."
"Yes, yes! I'm a suffering artist," Stiletto said. Gigi noticed that Stiletto seemed to be checking her out. She was surprised, since according to Paris Match Stiletto didn't play on her team, so to speak. Still, she did look pretty great. Gigi wore a 1940s black rayon dress with a sequined, netted neckline and a print of horses with curly pink and white plumes on their heads. Her shoes were silk with rose appliques at the toes. Suddenly she had an idea.
"Signor, I have a big favor to ask you. Your skin is so clear and smooth. I just wondered what my jacket would look like next to skin like yours. May I?" Gigi took her jacket, a 1960s faux fur with rhinestone buttons and held it next to his face. Stiletto caressed the fur.
"Perhaps if I put it on you would be able to see it more clearly?" he said. Without waiting for a response, he slid the jacket over his shoulders. Stiletto seemed to have more energy now. He posed in front of the mirror. "You might be curious about the necklaces, as well?" he said and absently grabbed the coffee, swallowing it in one gulp. Gigi smiled.
Later that night, after the show, Gigi made her way through expensively perfumed groups of opera goers dressed in shimmering satin gowns and ropes of diamonds. She heard bits of conversation about the performance--"Stiletto was amazing!" "A virtuoso! I've never heard Stiletto in finer form!"--and she found her aunt and uncle.
"Well done, Gigi," the conte said. "I don't know how you convinced Stiletto to sing, but he was marvelous."
Gigi fingered the edge of her neckline, feeling the area where her black, merry widow corset had been earlier in the day. It had fit Stiletto perfectly. "I guess all he needed was a little inspiration," she said.
Come back next week for a new story, and check out the store display to go with it! Also, all of Gigi's clothes are for sale at the Xtabay.