Content note: This is an excerpt from Cassie Lane’s new memoir How to Dress a Dummy…
That year, Alan and I went to the Brownlow. I remembered watching the red carpet when I was little, back when we only had four channels and the Brownlow was a rare opportunity for an Aussie girl to get her mug on the telly. I thought the women on the red carpet looked like princesses and I fantasised about being one of them. When Alan and I went, the WAG-cum-TV-presenter epidemic hadn’t yet hit Melbourne, so we weren’t all flooded with designer-dress offers. I was earning a meagre yoga-teacher’s salary and I wasn’t keen on breaking into my savings. I approached Belinda Fairbanks, a designer I loved. She agreed to lend me a dress, and we decided on the style and material. When I’d heard nothing from Belinda’s assistant a week before the event, I rang to check in.
‘Sorry?’ the assistant said, every sentence ending with an upward inflection. ‘That dress has gone to another footballer’s girlfriend?’
‘But the Brownlow’s in seven days! And we’d already agreed on the dress!’ I said.
‘Yeah. I know? But the other girl came in at the last minute? And she’s, like, on Neighbours?’ the assistant said/asked.
A designer had contacted Alan, offering to dress me, but I’d declined because her style was different from mine. But these were desperate times. Now she offered to make me a dress that would be ready two days before the event, on the condition that I had to wear it.
I drove to the store when the dress was almost ready. While the designer pinned the material onto me, she became animated bemoaning her previous Brownlow experiences. I flinched as she waved sharp pins millimetres from my eyeball.
‘She just didn’t get that I was the designer!’ she said.
‘Ouch!’ I squealed, as a pin pierced the skin under my arm.
‘Sorry, darl!’ she mumbled, mouth full of pins. ‘What was I saying?’