Saturday morning, before she left to meet her photographer, Margaret had a brief conversation with François.
F.: It always makes me jittery when I know that you are going to spend the day with Johnny.
Maggie burst into laughter.
M.: Oh, don't be jealous. He is very kind indeed, but it's strictly a professional relationship.
M.: Furthermore, even though at thirty five, with his perpetual three day beard, broad shoulders, and hazelnut eyes, he is rather nice looking, considering his inclination, if you were here I would be the one who has grounds to be jealous, she added mischievously.
Johnny was packing his photographer's paraphernalia when she arrived at the studio.
They headed north in Johnny's Range Rover.
M.: Who do we work with today?
J.: With my old friend Gertrud. She's a freelance designer. I don't know her age, perhaps in her fifties. For the past few months she's been working mostly for this chain of stores based in New York City.
J.: Gertrud produces the designs. The chain outsources production to various apparel manufacturers all over the world, and then they sell the garments in their own boutiques, as well as in corners they rent under their brand in other stores.
J.: They also buy pages in fashion magazines to place your pictures.
M.: But who pays you, Johnny, and me?
J.: Gertrud's agent.
M.: I'll never really understand who is responsible for what in this business.
J.: It's OK, honey. Gertrud is meeting us at the beach with the clothes in her van. That's what counts this morning.
J.: Oh and I should warn you: don't be put off by her demeanor. She can be a bit rough with people she doesn't know. It's the expression of her shyness.
M.: Sure. And if I get into a fit, she'll know me better and behave?
J.: Oh please, sugar, you haven't even met her! She's the sweetest of girls - once you know her.
After crossing the Golden Gate bridge, they drove for another while until they reached Drake's beach at Point Reyes.
The van was already there. And Gertrud, smoking a cigarette, was waiting with another woman for the photographer and his model.
J.: Hello Gertrud! Let me introduce Margaret to you.
G.: Hi, said Gertrud with a coarse voice. Here is Carolyn, who works for my client. She assists me.
After having chosen a spot, Johnny began to install various cameras mounted on tripods and silvery screens in the sand.
The designer and her assistant put an old marine trunk in the makeshift outdoors studio to create a buccaneer ambiance.
Margaret went into the van with the other women. A few minutes later she came out wearing a gorgeous ensemble consisting of a sleeveless woolen grege jacket over a white cotton blouse and a long assorted skirt. On her feet she wore raw leather stilettos.
Carolyn tied a pearl necklace around Margaret's neck and straightened out the clothes. Gertrud decided to comb the model's long hair on one side.
Johnny told her how to hold herself, reclining on the trunk with the left hand down on her hip and the other up touching the nape of her neck. And he began shooting.
When he had completed a first series he moved the cameras to have another angle with the scenery, changed some light filters, and did another series.
Then the three women disappeared into the van. After a moment Maggie stepped out again in another stylish outfit.
The same procedure was repeated with the thirty models they shot.
Apparently Maggie had tamed Gertrud, because no clash ever happened between the two women during the whole day.
J.: OK, Gertrud. I'll work on the pictures with Photoshop and send you the files at the end of the week.
On the way home, Johnny told Margaret that Gertrud might be whimsical at times, but she was very professional and a respected designer in New York.
J.: By the way, how did you manage to make friend with her so quickly?
M.: I told her I smoked the same Russian cigarettes as hers, but never at work.
J.: Is that true?
M.: Actually, I don't smoke.
J.: I think one day you'll make it in the Big Apple too, Maggie.