Violet Greenfield has flown the coop! No, no, she hadn't
been locked away by her semi-evil agent Angela, but she has
been offered the chance to attend Brazil's Fashion Week. If
only she can convince herself she really wants to go.
Melissa Walker picks up Violet's story right where she left
off in VIOLET ON THE RUNWAY, with Violet confused as ever
regarding her future in the modeling world. However, after
a successful, and passionate, Fashion Week, Violet's fears
are put to rest when she is booked for a high profile
campaign in France. In this new level of modeling, Violet
faces obstacles she never thought of before. Is her size 0
body considered too big for haute couture? And how will her
newly discovered love for her best friend Richard compare
with the chance of a lifetime? Violet must finally make a
choice between the life she has and the one she could have.
VIOLET BY DESIGN is a fantastically witty and fresh book.
Walker allows her heroine to shine, even when she is the
most down on herself. Any girl who picks up this book is
familiar with the body issues Violet faces, even if she
doesn't have a model's body. Violet's struggle with her
body image, her natural aversion to standing-out, and her
conflicting worlds, make Violet even the more endearing to
her reader. We want her to prevail against the injustice
that all girls face, and we want her to be happy, even if it
means making other people unhappy. Violet is a remarkable
girl in a world full of plastic and Photoshop.
I was going to get out of the modeling business for good.
But now I'm having trouble sticking with my decision. After
all, if it
wasn't for modeling, I might still be the invisible
wallflower. Hot guys
like Paulo wouldn't be interested in me. And I'd never have
or Spain-and now France! On the other hand...
I also wouldn't have to choose between my best friend from
home and my
agent's shrill demands. Or anguish over my body the way
models do. Not to mention all this trouble I'm getting into
out in the press about eating disorders.
Maybe the life of an international model isn't for me. But
if I quit for
good, I might always wonder...What if?
By the time I go through baggage claim and customs in Sao
Paulo, Iâ€™m so tired that I can barely read my own name,
which is on a sign being held by a short, gray-haired man
with a curled-up mustache. We pantomime a bit to determine
that, yes, I am Violet Greenfield. Lamely, I was thinking
my high school Spanish might be useful in Brazil, butâ€”duhâ€”
they speak Portuguese here.
As we drive through the city, I canâ€™t help but think it
looks a lot like New Yorkâ€”giant buildings everywhere,
crowds and busy streets, bicycles weaving in and out of
traffic. When we pull up to the Hotel Mirna, I feel like a
little girl pretending sheâ€™s old enough to be jet setting
and staying in fancy places. The concierge speaks English
perfectly, and as the bellhop rides up to my room with me,
I get a tingle of excitement. I am in another country. I
look down at my brown suede ballet flats and flash back to
them walking down my driveway just this morning. Now
theyâ€™re standing in an old-fashioned, gold-gilt-covered
elevator in Brazil.
We get off the elevator on the seventh floor, and I realize
the whole hotel opens in the middle around a giant, curving
staircase like in Gone With the Windâ€”which, okay, is my
secret favorite movie. (My public favorite movie is The
Royal Tenenbaums, which, while a great film with infinitely
more cool cred, is no Gone With the Wind). The man helping
me with my suitcaseâ€”who is wearing a red military jacket
that doesnâ€™t look that far off from what I wore on a runway
last winterâ€”opens the door to room 704 and places my
luggage on a folding wooden luggage stand that looks like
itâ€™s from my grandmotherâ€™s houseâ€”in a good way. Then he
bows and holds out his hand. I shake it, smiling at him and
saying, â€śObrigada,â€ť which is the one word the cab driver
managed to drill into my headâ€”it means â€śthank you.â€ť Then he
shuffles out the door and I turn around and take a deep
My room is gorgeous. Tiny, but â€śjust lovely,â€ť as I can hear
my mom saying. Burnt orange organza curtains hang across a
huge window that looks out onto the sparkling Sao Paulo
skyline, the shower is all glass and there are silver beads
on the outside of the panel that faces the bed, which I
suppose is for the illusion of privacy. The bathroom floors
are marble, and I find out after playing with an assortment
of buttons on the wall that they are alsoâ€”dramatic pauseâ€”
heated! My feet are always cold so I especially appreciate
the warmth. I have a little refrigerator with candy and
water and wine in itâ€”not to mention a giant fruit bowl on
the desk in the corner, where apples and oranges and grapes
and bananas are arranged around a large bottle of
But the really exciting stuff is on my bed. Not my bed
itself, which is cute and covered with a grass-patterned
green-and-grey down comforter, but whatâ€™s on my bed.
Presents! There must be 50 bags with tissue paper sticking
out of the topsâ€”blue and pink and yellow and green, all
with tags that say â€śViolet Greenfieldâ€ť or â€śBela Violetaâ€ť or
simply â€śVG,â€ť which sort of looks cool in calligraphy.
Inside are invitations to attend fashion shows, personal
letters from designers, and lotsâ€”I mean lotsâ€”of free stuff.
A pair of dark-wash high-waist jeans from Ellys, an amazing
long-sleeved eyelet lace dress from Ingrid Cupola and four
new bikinis from Dona Pink, to name a few. As I tear
through package after package, I think I feel a SWAG-
headache coming on. This must be how moviestars feel when
they get their Oscar gift bags. I lie back on the tissue
paper with a sigh.
Brring, brring. The phone does a double-time ring and
totally scares me. I havenâ€™t called my parents yet to give
them my numberâ€”who else could it be? I reach over to grab
â€śValiant Violet.â€ť Itâ€™s my agent.
â€śHi, Angela,â€ť I say, almost happy to hear her voice. I was
worried I was going to have to stumble through â€śYouâ€™ve got
the wrong numberâ€ť in Portuguese.
â€śDarling, whatâ€™s that rustling?â€ť she asks.
â€śUh, gift bags,â€ť I say sheepishly, wondering if itâ€™s weird
to open all of them at once like itâ€™s Christmas morning. I
bet most international runway models are so used to the
presents that they just put them aside and barely glance at
the goodies inside. Iâ€™m so not at that too-cool point, and
I kind of doubt I ever will be.
â€śWell get yourself out of that mess,â€ť Angela orders. â€śWeâ€™ve
got an appointment at the hotel spa in five minutes. Iâ€™ll
see you downstairs.â€ť
Click. Ooh, the spa sounds nice. I pull on my yoga pants
and a t-shirt and head downstairs.
â€śGreetings, Sporty Spice,â€ť says Angela as she air kisses
both my cheeks. She doesnâ€™t say it in a nice way. Her
blonde hair is perfectly highlighted and blown out, as
always, and her gleaming red lipstick matches well-
manicured hands. â€śYou know, even at the spa we do like to
wear real clothes.â€ť
I feel my shoulders start to shrink in a little. I forgot
how much Angelaâ€™s criticisms sting sometimes.
â€śOh, toughen up, Vulnerable Violet,â€ť she says. â€śYouâ€™ll need
thick skin for this appointment.â€ť
After a few tears and some pitiful whining, I agreed that
it did make sense for me to go through with the ritual of
torture known as the Brazilian bikini wax, and that Brazil
was probably the best place to do it. I am modeling
swimsuits, after all. Angela said she knew sheâ€™d have to
drag me kicking and screaming to the table, so she hadnâ€™t
dared ask me to get one on my own at home. â€śBesides,â€ť she
said, â€śwho knows what those country-bumpkin spa women would
have done to you.â€ť
Back in my hotel room, Iâ€™m lotioning and icing my
throbbing, red bikini line. Oh yes, it hurt. When I walked
back through the lobby with Angela, I looked like a cowboy
in a John Wayne movie whoâ€™d been riding his horse for 10
days straight. Just as the pain is starting to subside, my
â€śGet dressed,â€ť Angela barks. â€śIâ€™ll meet you in the lobby in
â€śDressed?â€ť I stammer.
â€śFor dinner, of course,â€ť snaps Angela. â€śWeâ€™ll be dining
with a few designers and some other Tryst girls tonight.â€ť
I can feel my underarms start to sweat as my heart beats
â€śOh, and Violet?â€ť purrs Angela. â€śWhen youâ€™re throwing on a
dress, think Lower East Sideâ€”not Lower Atlantic Coast.â€ť And
then sheâ€™s gone.
And Iâ€™m panicked.
I slip on a simple black shift dress with long sleeves, but
I leave my coat in the room. Contrary to my momâ€™s
assessment that the July winter in Brazil would be cold, it
only dips into the 60s at nightâ€”and itâ€™s like 70 during the
day, I hear. Guess I should have googled that one myself.
Dinner is in the garden of a restaurant just down the block
from the hotel, which is good because Iâ€™m wearing red
patent leather heels that are â€śtoo cute for wordsâ€ť
according to Julie, but â€śtoo painful for wordsâ€ť according
to me. Still, I trust my best friendâ€™s assessment and I
want to look good tonight. I manage to walk normally
because the trauma of my wax experience has faded somewhat,
and I even put on a long gold chain necklace that Veronica
once told me was â€śedgy but feminine,â€ť so I feel like Iâ€™m
pulling off the look Angela wanted. When she sees me,
however, she just chirps, â€śWell, good enough!â€ť before she
hurries me out the door of the hotel. So much for my
The restaurant is called Spot and weâ€™re seated at a long
table in front of the blue-green-yellow Brazilian flag,
which is as ubiquitous here as the American flag is in
rural parts of North Carolina. The room is enclosed in
glass, and the crowd of beautiful people is buzzing with
energy. I like it, because it reminds me that Iâ€™m in a
completely new world where I should take everything in.
But what Iâ€™m taking in now are all the girls at the table,
some of whom are chattering in Portuguese and others who
are sitting sullenly, staring at the bread basket with
longing eyes. I guess thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m doing too, but only
because I donâ€™t want to be the only one who eats the bread.
I glance around the table and try to remember a few of the
flurry of names Angela rattled off when we sat down.
Thereâ€™s Amelia and Lucy, models from New York whom Iâ€™ve
seen before but who completely intimidate me with their
vacant eyes, and then two Brazilian models with exotic
namesâ€”Vidonia and Yelena maybe? I canâ€™t remember who is
who. At the far end of the table is Dona Pink himself, the
flamboyant bikini designer who requested me for his show
and single-handedly re-launched my modeling career with the
promise of this trip to Brazil. He has unkempt black hair
that frames his ultra-tan face a bit wildly, and heâ€™s
wearing a button-down shirt that is open almost to the
navel. He sort of seems like a gay, Brazilian Elvis, which
is pretty entertaining. He sees me looking at him and
raises his glass, shouting, â€śVioleta!â€ť at which all the
other girls reluctantly pick up their drinks and join the
toast to me. I blush a little and hold up my glass, which
holds a traditional Brazilian drink that tastes limey and
has a lot of sugar in it. Translation: I love it.
Iâ€™m sitting next to Angela at the edge of the table when
someone takes the head seat on my left. I look over and see
the deepest brown eyes Iâ€™ve seen since my neighborâ€™s golden
retrieverâ€™s. I know it sounds odd to compare dog eyes to
person eyes, but believe me, itâ€™s a compliment. He also has
this adorable, shiny, floppy brown hair that falls just
above his shoulders. The guy, not the dog. And heâ€™s got
big, soft pink lips. â€śHello, Violet,â€ť he says quietly as he
sits down, as though he wants only me to hear his greeting.
I feel my eyelashes flutter involuntarily and I nervously
place my hand on my drink to steady its shaking.
â€śHello,â€ť I respond, wishing I knew his name too, but so
flattered he knows who I am. After going through life as a
high school wallflower, itâ€™s still a shock when people get
my name rightâ€”even now. Especially people who are, oh, drop
Then Beautiful Boy begins to speak: â€śMy name is . . .â€ť