This week's Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries cold open is a reminder that if you talk to a murderer like you're in a cheap dime-store novel while wearing pearls in the bathroom, someone is going to dime-store novel murder you until said pearl necklace breaks. Let it never be said this show is not educational.
Now, let us follow Miss Fisher and Dot to the House of Fleuri, run by Madame Simone Fleuri (Heather Mitchell), where both are trying on new bespoke outfits. Fisher is the height of fashion, natch, though the seamstress, Violet (Tessa Lind), suggests perhaps the neckline could be lowered. Dot is trying on a sensible suit.
Dot: Miss Fisher's right about one thing. Dressing to please a man is definitely beside the point.
Dot's suit is so "ladies' companion," it screams for the house model, Genevieve Lamaire (Freya Stafford), to ask her to help with that last button before she screams over coming across a dead body in the bathroom. It's Frances Wilde, House of Fleuri's primary investor. Her (much younger) husband, Aubrey (Mark Leonard Winter), has a panic attack, and Renee Fleuri (Sibylla Budd), Simone's sister, the shop photographer, sits him down. Frances arrived after Phryne did, and everyone going in and out of the salon was visible. One of these people is the murderer.
The cause of death was "stabbed in the neck with her own hairpin," not strangled with her pearls. But except for one bead, the rest are missing. Fisher asks Simone if she noticed the necklace, but the designer is more concerned about locking her catalog away. Violet remembers it, as does Genevieve, who loved the purple color. (Collins also seems taken with Genevieve, much to Dot's consternation.) Under questioning, Renee says she was distracted by her broken camera, but Simone and Wilde quarreled over the catalog and House of Fleuri's dwindling clientele. Meanwhile, Violet claims she was pressing a frock from Mrs. Wilde's fitting while Aubrey waited in the lounge.
A search of the premise proves both are lying. The camera works fine, and Fisher grabs some as-yet-undeveloped plates, as well as Simone's catalog. In the sewing room, they find Wilde's dress in a pile, and the iron is stone cold. (A 1920s iron does not cool down like that.) Outside, there's been a delivery of flowers with a note "To our prosperous future," signed "GM." Fisher sends Cec and Bert to develop the photos and find out who "GM" is.
Simone admits she argued with Wilde, but not over clients. Frances thought Genevieve was having an affair with Aubrey and wanted her dismissed. Simone wasn't about to fire her best model, considering Aubrey is a serial philanderer. Wilde, in a rage, insulted the shop and threatened to sack Simone, who responded by slapping her. Genevieve insists she wasn't sleeping with Aubrey; he treated her like the help. But Fisher confirms Renee and Simone were at odds over the business, with Simone very Haute Couture, and Renee more inclined towards prêt-à-porter, ready to wear.
Under the pretext of getting Dot a new dress, the two return, and Fisher pokes around. The front desk numbers confirm the salon is losing business, but Violet says she's overworked, tucking away a large package. Fisher sends Cec and Bert to follow her to the post office. Then she and Dot head to the spa, filled with Fleuri ex-clients. There, Mrs. Carlyon (Fiona Macleod) says she couldn't get an appointment, and she disliked Renee's modern ideas. Mrs. Tippet (Judith Roberts) says Renee was pushing to get financial backing. The owner of the spa, Melba Cruise (Kerrie-Anne Baker), says she canceled a gown when she lost the sapphire necklace it was being designed to go with, and then couldn't get in again.
Wilde had reason to suspect her husband. There's a canceled check in her handbag for a fancy new apartment the Wildes bought last week. The landlord, Mr. Hargreaves (Linc Hasler), admits he was shocked when the bank refused to honor it since Mrs. Wilde seemed so taken with the place. But his description of "Mrs. Wilde" is a perfect match for Renee. She admits they were getting an apartment, but it was a storefront: They were to be business partners. The camera was fine; she'd just been in emotional shock when Aubrey told her. Aubrey then left the lounge, but it wasn't to confront his wife. It was to have a roll in the fabric with Violet.
Cec and Bert waylay poor Violet and her package, taking it to Fisher. It's for "Gary and Molly Nex," the people who sent the flowers. Inside, there are three modernized copies of a gown from Simone's catalog. Fisher takes a midnight visit to the salon to confront Violet. But she's dead, face down in a bowl of pearls. A single pearl from Wilde's necklace is sitting in the potpurri. The next day, Fisher notices Renee's camera covered with dried flowers, and when she opens the back, the rest of the pearls come spilling out. When confronted, Fisher points out to Renee the package address is one of the most fashionable streets in Paris, where a brand new department store has opened: Gallery Molyneaux.
Renee says her back up plan was to get a full order from them to finance her salon. But she didn't take the pearls, and killing Violet wasn't in her interest. As Dot washes and dries the dresses, she realizes the gowns are covered in real sapphires, just like the ones Cruise lost. Collins looks into the disgruntled clients and all report stolen or missing jewels. Fisher decides they need to set up the next target, so she breaks out her Columbian Emeralds and orders a gown to match them in front of Renee, Simone, Genevieve, and Aubrey, before announcing she's going out of town for the weekend.
The plan works, as Fisher catches Genevieve, who admits she's a long-time jewel thief. She had Violet over a barrel, threatening to tell Simone about Renee's plans, using the dresses to export the jewels. She killed Wilde because the woman confronted her in the bathroom, saying "she knew everything," but it was a mistake. Wilde was accusing Genevieve of playing house with Aubrey and knew nothing about the robberies. But by the time Genevieve realized, the woman was dead.
Simone despairs of her salon recovering from such a blow. Thankfully Phryne has an idea: a fashion show, featuring both Renee's prêt-à-porter (modeled by Dot) and Simone's Haute Couture, modeled by Phryne. Naturally, the store is saved.