WRIT LARGE: Ch 5, Part 2
The Sun Tzu of Luxury
In this part, Lucas, the boys, and an accidental Olivia take a ride on the Water Rapids Adventure and end up drenched. Olivia shows Lucas her timeline of Bernard’s life and tries to sell him on a Netflix biopic of the story, starring Ewan McGregor, of course.
I snap a picture of Olivia and the boys standing beneath the sign and we enter through the gates of Jurassic Park. I defy anyone not to feel that same frisson of suspense as when the gates opened in the original movie; it is like stepping into a rainforest (provided you ignore the pristine paths and the sulphur glow of lights) complete with bird squawks and the rustling of vegetation that precedes animal movement. The boys are immersed in the world of dinosaurs and fossils and are already approaching the Water Rapids Adventure.
Olivia hangs back waving her iPad and glancing pointedly down at her dress. I climb aboard – no queues, although a family of four have entered the ride ahead of us – but before the attendant can close off the entrance, I remove my watch and call out to Olivia to retrieve it for me. The attendant allows her through, takes her iPad and my watch in one swift, well-practiced move, and replaces the barrier, trapping her inside.
“Wait, no.” I can see the panic in her eyes, in the fluttering of her empty hands. “I’m not riding.”
“Please, Olivia,” the boys plead. “It’ll be fun.”
I shrug. It’s only a boat ride around Jurassic Park during which we will all compete in naming as many dinosaurs as possible. She hesitates, and the attendant takes his cue. I offer to move to the rear seat with her where we should incur minimal splashes, if any, and she reluctantly joins me. For the first time since we arrived, Olivia is quiet. She grips the seat in front of her and stares at a frilly-necked creature that spits water in our direction, and I feel a momentary pang of guilt at having failed to mention the momentous final splash and guaranteed soaking, so I promise I will discuss timelines with her after the ride.
We are drenched when we disembark. Olivia’s perfect curls are stringy-wet and her dress sags at the neckline, distorted by the extra weight. She opens her mouth to speak and thinks better of it, arms hanging limply by her side and water dripping onto the floor from her fingertips.
“That was awesome,” says the youngest boy. “Can we ride again?”
I suggest that the boys ride alone, while Olivia and I dry off and she offers me a grateful half-smile. She removes her shoes and walks barefoot with me to a bench in the sun where she turns her face to the sky.
“You should watch Halston,” she says, eyes closed and basking in the evening warmth. “Ewan McGregor is so charismatic, one of his best roles to date.”
I confess that I haven’t watched it, but I have read the reviews suggesting that for all the fine acting, the mini-series fails to evoke a complete portrait of the designer.
“Oh, but that’s where you come in,” she insists. “The timeline encompasses all aspects of Bernard’s life, so it will be a well-rounded biography.” She smiles and shows me the extensive spreadsheet. I ask if this was compiled with the biography in mind or Netflix.
“Netflix was a lightbulb moment, Lucas. Not everyone reads and I thought it would be the perfect way to reach everyone.”
I skim the details. Much of it is business-related: figures and percentages and purchase dates, but a few more personal details catch my eye, including one which states that Bernard was known in France as ‘the wolf in cashmere’ because of his uncouth corporate ambition. A Netflix biopic would need such drama to keep the viewers entertained, and I suggest the tag as a potential title.
I intend to write the biography from a more intimate stance, an insight into the man’s life that will allow the reader to reach their own conclusions.
She watches me then, water clinging to her eyelashes. “Oh, I’m not sure … I don’t know how Bernard would feel about that.”
Which is the reason why, I tell her, I intend to write the biography from a more intimate stance, an insight into the man’s life that will allow the reader to reach their own conclusions. I’ve noticed on the list, another title bestowed upon Bernard during his career, but I hold back on mentioning it for now.
“I thought we could keep it colourful,” Olivia persists. “Vibrant yet classy.”
I ask if she means like the Louis Vuitton store at Marina Bay Sands, which certainly stands out for originality of design.
“I was thinking more like Moulin Rouge.” She swivels in her seat, her cheeks pink from the heat, her dress forming puddles around her bare feet. “It’s so … energetic and dazzling and …”
And, of course, it starred Ewan McGregor, I suggest.
“He is such a great actor, isn’t he? Big Fish is one of my all-time favourite films.”
I mention Trainspotting, which she has never seen, and I feign shock at her lack of culture. I ask if this is building up to the suggestion that Ewan McGregor take the lead role in the hypothetical Arnault biopic. She giggles. I like bedraggled-Olivia; she has lost the air of clipped efficiency that she arrived with.
“Of course,” she says. “Who else?”
The boys run over, T-shirts clinging to their chests, and their shorts two shades darker than before we entered the Lost World. They are grinning. I remember that innocent passion for new experiences enjoyed by children and dogs and snap another picture of them as they shake water from their hair spraying me and Olivia with tiny cool droplets. I ask them, off the top of their heads, which actor should play their grandfather in a Netflix Original series. The eldest boy says, “Tom Cruise,” and his brother says, “Dwayne Johnson.” And that, I tell her, is the unbiased view of Bernard that I am hoping to capture in the book, because right there are two different views of the same man.