" You have got to be kidding me!" Gabriel Agreste snapped as one of the young models stumbled for the fifth time in her high-heeled shoes, making a nearby assistant catch her before she could fall to the floor. "You simply cannot trip on the catwalk! And lengthen your stride, you look like a terrified five-year old at school for the first time without her mother!"
"It's these shoes!" the model protested. "I've walked in heels before, of course, but these ones are too high!"
Gabriel scowled at her, completely fed up. "Excuses, excuses! Then you practice and get better instead of tiptoeing around like you're scared that the shoe is going to bite your toes off!"
The model sniffled, clearly on the edge of a breakdown. The assistant who had stopped her fall earlier steered her into a nearby empty chair. "Well that's easy for you to say! You haven't tried walking in these shoes!"
The whole room went quiet. Everyone knew that you did not talk back to Gabriel Agreste without some sort of punishment.
"You're right," Gabriel said in the deadly quiet sort of voice that set everyone's hairs on end. "I haven't. Nathalie, if you would find a pair that would fit me, please?"
Nathalie nodded and scurried off, leaving Gabriel staring down the model, who was suddenly wishing that she hadn't taken this particular contract at all. In only a few minutes, Nathalie was back with a shoebox. She handed it over.
"Your shoes, sir."
"Thank you, Nathalie," Gabriel said. He glanced around. "A chair, if you please?"
He was immediately offered three different chairs. He sat down in the nicest one and immediately started shucking his normal shoes. Picking up the shoebox, Gabriel unwrapped the heels one by one and set them on the floor in front of him.
In the corners of the room, models and workers alike started peeking back out towards him, curious. Surely Mr. Agreste wasn't going to actually wear high heels just to try to prove a point? Everyone knew that if you weren't used to heels, especially ones that were as high and had as skinny of a heel as the ones he was using for his latest runway, it was all too easy to fall.
And if he fell, he would surely be in a temper for the rest of the day. Still, the curiosity was too much to resist.
Gabriel put the shoes on and, in one smooth move, stood up. With the additional height from the shoes, he positively towered over everyone in the room. Still glaring at the model, he took one step forward without any sign of a wobble.
Then two. Then three.
"It is hardly difficult," Gabriel said in that same chilly voice. "And it is part of your job to learn how to manage if you do find it difficult. If you find that you cannot cope, perhaps you would be better suited to a different career."
"Three steps is hardly a runway walk," the model argued, immediately fired up again at the insinuation that she wasn't fit be a model. "That's different-"
"I was not done," Gabriel interrupted, and everyone in the room shivered from the ice in his voice. "Clear a lane, if you please?"
Once again, people scrambled to clear a runway-size block of floor for their boss before retreating to the walls to watch from a safe distance.
"The basic walk," Gabriel announced, striding forward. He moved so smoothly that, unless people looked at his feet, they wouldn't have known that he had high heels on. There wasn't a single wobble to be seen. "Long stride, shoulders back, chin up. Not too fast, or else the photographers won't be able to get a good picture."
The entire room nodded automatically.
"The strut," Gabriel continued as he returned to the start and turned to head back up the "runway". "More authority, more movement. Feet come higher up." He headed back up the floor with a clear strut in his steps, apparently completely unfazed by the heels. "For extra oomph, the legs should kind of cross over each other like so. Think Gisele. Do not trip."
Nathalie absently wondered from her position at the front of the room if Gabriel had perhaps had some sort of modeling career in the past that he had never told her about and if not, what it would take for him to model his own things every once in a while. After all, he certainly had the women's model walks down.
"And then the sexy walks," Gabriel added, coming to a stop in front of the wide-eyed model once again. "Even when you wear lower heels, you never move your hips enough while walking, even on runways where it calls for a sleek, sexy walk!"
"It's hard in heels!" the model squeaked, though she didn't sound anywhere near as sure of herself as she had earlier.
Gabriel scoffed. "It is not." He spun around again- Nathalie briefly wondered how he didn't break his ankle doing that, those heels were ridiculous- and then practically sashayed up the "runway", hands on his swaying hips as he walked. It was a slightly fierce sashay, but Nathalie had to admit that if she ever saw a female model do that walk, she would hire them in a heartbeat because they would own the runway. On Gabriel, with his suit jacket and red pants, it looked a bit ridiculous.
But if he was wearing pants that matched that jacket, and if he lost that ridiculous tie thing he always wears...
"See? It is simple," Gabriel told the cowering model as he came to a stop once again. "There are no excuses for being a model and not being able to walk right. Next thing I know, you'll be whining about not being able to properly pose in front of a camera! Do I need to teach any of you how to do that, too, or can you manage that?"
There wasn't a response. Clearly Gabriel wasn't expecting one.
"If you cannot walk, then you aren't fit to model. Nathalie, find a replacement, please. I don't want to see this incompetent mess in my building again." With that, Gabriel turned and left through the door behind him, leaving a room of stunned people behind.
The only thing breaking the silence in the room was the sound of Gabriel Agreste's high heels clacking against the linoleum as he headed down the hallway.
When Marinette tagged along with Adrien to see the main Gabriel building while he got fitted for an upcoming photoshoot, she wasn't entirely positive what she would see. The fitting rooms for sure, she knew that, and maybe the sewing rooms as well- and, if she was super lucky, she might get to peek into the offices of some of the designers that worked for Gabriel.
She was not expecting to see Mr. Agreste himself, stalking down the hallway looking rather displeased about something. The anger seemed to be making him even taller than usual, she thought rather uneasily as she and Adrien pressed themselves into a little alcove in the wall so that Mr. Agreste wouldn't see them. He was absolutely towering as he glowered.
...or maybe it was just the ridiculously tall high heels that Mr. Agreste was currently sporting that was making it look that way.
Marinette blinked, then looked again. Just like she thought, Mr. Agreste was sporting silver high heels. They were nice-looking shoes, definitely high-end- not that Mr. Agreste would ever wear anything less than the best- but they definitely didn't go with his outfit, and they weren't exactly a style she had ever thought Mr. Agreste would wear. Still, he seemed confident enough powerwalking down the hall in the heels, like it was something he did on a regular basis.
She and Adrien stayed quiet and hidden until Mr. Agreste rounded the corner down the hallway and vanished. Moments later, a door clicked shut and the sound of his heels clicking against the floor faded. They finally stepped out into the hallway, staring wide-eyed in the direction Mr. Agreste had vanished.
"Um, Adrien?" Marinette started a bit uncertainly, still staring a bit blankly down the hall. "Does... does your father wear high heels often?"