January 31, 2007

January 29, 2007

But it's fashion...

Henrik Vibskov's "show" tonight on Ile St Louis -- A post-apocalyptic scenario comprising dirty-faced models picking black carrots from a yellow field dressed in really nice knitwear...


Yes, it's fashion.


Does it remind you of Mugatu's "Derelicte"?




The windows at Kokon To Zai

Are very direct and to-the-point...


Obsession of the week / Aleksi and his shirt

Putting in an appearance at Zero Zero on rue Amelot last night.



January 28, 2007

Show of the week / Raf Simons / Video

Rules of engagement


It is generally good practice to be friends with people who have great taste in shoes.

Show of the week / Raf Simons

One of the most hotly anticipated shows of the week, Raf Simons, last night at Bercy.

As soon as I figure out how to use iMovie to edit my show video down to size, I will post it for your viewing pleasure.

January 27, 2007

January 25, 2007

Mile End Lee

O.M.G. tonight I met Tom Walker, who starred as Mile End Lee in one of my favorite West End musicals of all time -- the Pet Shop Boys' Closer to Heaven. He sings one of my favorite musical numbers ever -- the duet "Closer to Heaven" -- and I think I really embarrassed him because I wouldn't stop going on and on about how great he was in the show and how great he is on the soundtrack. Bleurgh, I'm so bad around famous people!

I see London...

...I see the George and Dragon.

(Haven't been this happy in ages.)





January 24, 2007

Tonight's bedtime reading

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel

I'm particularly fond of this passage (p. 16):

"In 1536 transportation was combined with the pleasure-travel cause when Englishman Richard Hore invited 30 London aristocrats to join him on a highly novel outing: the world's first sightseeing cruise. It ended badly,* but started a trend nonetheless."

The *footnote reads:

"During their journey to the New World they became stranded off the coast of Newfoundland. Finding themselves with insufficient provisions, they ended up eating each other."

January 23, 2007

America / Razorlight

What a drag it is, the shape I'm in.
Well I go out somewhere then I come home again...

All in all -- the Mal's mal

Sometimes I worry that I'm too tightly wound. Like, for example, it takes me about an hour to decompress after work each day (even though I don't always feel stressed out during the workday). And on most vacations, it takes me two or three days to get out of work-mode.

So, all things considered, I thought maybe I had been too harsh on the Malmaison hotel where I'm staying in Oxford. After all, it's not like I'm staying at the Ritz (there's no Ritz in town, otherwise I'd probably have booked in there).

Not being offered help with luggage? That's not that huge a deal, is it? And who knows, maybe other people don't complain about the 9-hours-per-day blaring pop music being piped into their ice rink-adjacent rooms.

(** And, while in my previous post I assumed that they treated everyone this way, turns out that's just not the case -- I was shocked to read so many favorable reviews from so many people saying that they'd been personally escorted to their rooms by the person who checked them in (whereas me and my huge suitcase schlepped all over the hotel through the ultra-narrow walkways in A-wing looking for my room by myself.)

But then again, there are some small things about this property that just aren't up to par. And I tend to think that when it comes to traveling, it's the little things that count.

For example:

This is the limescale-encrusted showerhead in the bathroom:


And this is the only floorlamp in the room -- it doesn't work.

Also the quick-dial buttons (the ones labeled "Reception" and "Wake-Up", etc.) on the phone are mis-labeled. And both phone numbers provided for room service on the room service menu come up as "Wrong Number" when dialed.

So, sure, it's a gorgeous gorgeous hotel. And these prices are reasonable, I guess. (Though I have to point out that I booked directly through the hotel's website a month in advance and the price on the website dropped GBP30 per night on my room two days before I arrived, but it was too late for me to cancel my original reservation and rebook -- this is frustrating because it's as if I am being punished for planning ahead. Seriously, for a two night stay, I could have saved about $120! And it's not like I booked through some discount consolidator -- I booked directly through the hotel.)

I certainly wouldn't shell out the same kind of money to stay here again.


The best matte opaque tights in the world? Marks and Spencer's. And today I bought 29 pairs.

Yes, they are that good.

Getting back to the basics

I'm a sucker for good, no-frills packaging.

Someone option this story --

This story ran in yesterday's Daily Mirror. Clair Muldoon finds out she has two months to live -- so she marries her high school sweetheart. Heartbreaking stuff.



By Beth Neil

MANY couples are overcome with emotion as they exchange their wedding vows. But for Claire Muldoon and Jamie Ward, the tears of joy are mingled with tears of unimaginable sadness.

While most newlyweds share dreams of growing old together, the brave couple know they will not even reach their first wedding anniversary.

For the next time all their relatives and friends gather together, it will be Claire's funeral.

After battling cancer four times since childhood, 26-year-old Claire has been given the devastating news that she has just two months to live.

Her shattered family have spent the last fortnight working around the clock to make her dream of marrying Jamie come true.

"When doctors said I wouldn't get better, the most important thing was to marry him before it was too late," says the mum-of-one.

"We may only have a few weeks, but I'm so glad we'll spend them as Mr and Mrs Ward."

And while planning a wedding can be a stressful time for many brides, for Claire it came as a welcome relief. She says: "For the last week in the build-up to the wedding, I haven't thought about cancer and dying at all.

It's been amazing to concentrate on something positive for once. And to have everyone here has meant so much."

Startlingly thin and in constant pain from the tumour behind her stomach, Claire, dressed in a stunning white gown, was willed on by the 70-strong congregation as she courageously walked down the aisle clutching the arm of tearful dad Stephen on Saturday.

While she and Jamie, 28, exchanged their vows in a highly-charged ceremony at the Hillcrest Hotel in their hometown of Widnes, Cheshire, both broke down in tears.

Instead of committing to each other for "years to come" they simply said "the future."

And Claire struggled to get the words out as she promised to stay "faithful, loyal and supportive" to Jamie for the rest of her life.

Their five-year-old daughter Jessica, the miracle child they thought they could never have, was cuddled by family as her mummy and daddy were pronounced husband and wife.

"It's been the most overwhelming day," says Jamie, holding his new wife's hand. "When I saw her I just thought 'wow'. I'm the luckiest man in the world. So proud. I can't bear to think about the future without her."

Through tears guests clapped and cheered Claire and Jamie back up the aisle. Later they drank champagne and tucked into a traditional roast dinner before Stephen paid tribute to his eldest child in a moving speech.

TODAY is the second-proudest day of my life," he said. "The first was the day she was born. All I want to do is love and protect her."

Claire's story is one of incredible courage, love and tragedy. At the age of 11, in January 1992, she was diagnosed with leukaemia.

She spent the next year in Liverpool's Alder Hey hospital having chemotherapy and finally went into remission shortly after her 13th birthday.

But little more than a year later in April 1994 a routine check-up showed the leukaemia had returned and spread into her spinal fluid.

This time Claire would need a bone marrow transplant. Brother Stephen, then just 11, was found to be a match.

"It was a big thing for him to do at such a young age," says Claire. "But he quite enjoyed being in hospital. He could play on the Nintendos and the Mega drives!"

Things for Claire, on the other hand, were far tougher. With her weakened immune system leaving her prone to infection, she was forced to suffer nine weeks in isolation.

She spent the year following the transplant undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

By the time she was 16 she was able to go to sixth-form college and sit the GCSEs she had missed. "I took it day by day," says Claire. "I was feeling very positive about the future and decided to work in childcare or teaching."

Although she was never without her health problems, over the next four years she was able to live a normal life.

At the age of 19, she met Jamie, a shop assistant at Asda, through friends on a night out. Both of them knew straight away that this relationship was something special.

Claire said: "We just clicked. We'd chat for hours. He makes me laugh - he's the most sarcastic person I've ever met!"

Jamie adds: "She's amazing. I think a lot of people would have cracked up by now but she's kept us all going."

Two years after they met, Claire and Jamie decided to start a family. Doctors had warned that Claire's chances of getting pregnant were virtually non-existent - having chemotherapy at such a young age had damaged her ovaries.

But against all the odds she fell pregnant and in June 2001 gave birth to Jessica.

"Pregnancy was the healthiest I've ever been," she said. "I had no infections, no illness, no coughs or cramps. And Jess was our little miracle. I remember just staring at her, thinking 'that's my little person there'."

It wasn't until 2003 that Claire felt unwell again. She noticed a growth on her throat and her GP told her to keep an eye on it. She had regular check-ups over the next 12 months by which time the lump had grown to the size of a plum. A biopsy confirmed it was a tumour.

"I just thought: 'God, not again'. Hadn't I been through enough? The doctors told me they could remove it and the prognosis was good. But having to go through cancer all over again was horrible." In September 2004 Claire had the lump and her thyroid removed before starting a course of radioiodine. Because the treatment was radioactive, it meant Claire had to spend a month away from Jessica.

"For Jess it was like a little holiday staying at different relatives' houses," she says. "But it was agony for me. Thankfully it was successful and the cancer had gone. Surely now I could get on with the rest of my life."

But it wasn't to be. Just six months later Claire started experiencing chronic stomach pains and pneumonia caused her weight to plummet from a healthy 9st to just 5st. Over the next 18 months, X-rays, CT and MRI scans showed no problems but Claire instinctively knew the cancer had returned.

She was eventually sent for a biopsy last November which showed there was indeed a tumour behind her stomach. In addition, surrounding the tumour, was a bag of fluid containing cancerous cells. It left Claire with no hope. By now she was so weak, surgery was out of the question. More chemo would only prolong her life ever so slightly. It would not save her.

"When they told me it was terminal I screamed," says Claire. "It didn't sink in for a long time. All I could think of was Jess and not being here for her."

Jamie adds: "I can't describe how low I felt that day. I was out in the car and for a split second it went through my mind to crash it and end it all. It was absolute rock bottom."

Claire, who is on strong painkillers, has decided to live her last weeks without chemotherapy after it proved even more gruelling than in the past. "I'd only had one dose but it made me feel like I was going to die," she said. "I lay in bed with Jamie and told him I was scared I wasn't strong enough to make it through chemo. So I told the doctor I didn't want any more and I asked him to tell me how long I had left."

SINCE then family and friends have rallied round and Saturday's wedding took place thanks to their tireless organising and fundraising.

A charity evening and raffle at local Moorfield Sports and Social Club raised £300. Family friend Danny Wood has completed a sponsored head-shave and Claire's Auntie Syl has been collecting donations in Widnes pubs.

Jamie says: "We can't believe how much everyone has done for us. We always said that marriage was just a piece of paper - an expensive one. But now it's definitely more than that."

"I'm made up. It feels weird wearing a fancy dress," laughed Claire. "I'm such a tomboy. When I was a kid I'd be playing army games and making dens. But I feel lovely today."

Jamie and Claire haven't told Jessica the full story, but she's aware her mum is very poorly. Claire says: "Jess knows I'm not well. We've told her mummy's got a sore belly but she's too young to understand what's going to happen.

"Yes, I do feel angry. Yes, I do feel robbed. And I feel desperate for Jess. I'm terminally ill at 26 and that's not fair."

Claire and Jamie's close-knit families have been a huge support. And they vowed to take care of Jamie and Jessica when Claire has gone.

Mum Jean said: "Claire never moans, mopes about or complains. She just gets on with it. And she does it with that beautiful smile of hers."

Despite being worn out by the celebrations, Claire managed to party into the night with the 200 guests who arrived for the evening do, determined to make the most of what little time she has left.

She and Jamie plan to honeymoon in Rome for a couple of days next week and, if they can get enough money together, they will take Jessica to Disneyland Paris.

"We've got a lot to pack in," she said. "We're not thinking about the future. We just want to concentrate on being a family and having fun, no matter what lies ahead. I can't believe I'm Mrs Ward. Today has been perfect."

Boy who sings

Lots of talent over here that's yet to make it Stateside. Like James Morrison, who sold 1.5 million copies of his debut album.

I try to be like Grace Kelly...

Huge hoopla over here about singer Mika (nee Mica Penniman), whose debut single, Grace Kelly (video above), went straight to number one this weekend. Plus, The Sun is reporting that Mika's just signed a six-figure deal to be the new face of Paul Smith. Watch this space.

January 22, 2007

Everything old is new again

Everyone knew that one day sometime soon, grunge would rear its head once again -- and looks like it's going to be sooner rather than later. Grunge-inspired pieces like these dresses have already started to trickle into UK High Street stores like Primark and Topshop. The new incarnations on the old Seattle music-inspired look couldn't come at a better time -- what with news about Hot Topic going pastel and stuff. (No, seriously, where are the mall goths going to shop now?). Nouveau grunge is softer, sweeter, for a gentler, less committal generation.

The trend turnaround time from UK to US seems, empirically, to be about one to two years -- that is, unless Mango or H&M pick it up and bring it over first. Look for a resurgence of interest in Kurt Cobain and plaid shirts sometime very very soon.

PS If you hadn't noticed, It's the 90s all over again. At the Borders on Magdalen Street today I spotted three major fashion/style magazines that feature Courtney Love on the cover this month. Then there's that hooker's memoirs about heroin that's getting lots of attention in the UK media. Not to mention all the international hoopla over too-skinny models (remember the birth of the waif in the 90s?). Donna Karan is re-issuing her seven-piece dressing. And the new wave of hair metal is slowly gaining speed. Next thing you know, step aerobics will take over the world (again).

Okay this is the switch

... that turns the radiator on. Now it's not cold and dark anymore. Just dark.

Malmaison -- literally

I mean, this has got to be some kind of joke. It's super-cold in this room, I can't turn the radiator on, and the only floor lamp in the room doesn't work.

I might as well be living in a medieval dungeon for real and typing by candlelight.

Travels/Travails: Hour 13

The few times a year I travel for leisure -- i.e. fly, stay in hotels, and do tourist stuff without identifying myself as press -- I am always shocked, shocked, that civilians (non-press/special-treatment) regularly pay so much money for such mediocre (if not downright shabby) treatment. Everytime hotel or airline staff try to pull some dumb crap on me, or don't meet the standards of their company's reputation, I know that they must do this to everyone else too.

This morning, I got off the red-eye from New York to London and took a 1.5 hour bus to Oxford (the place on earth where I feel most at home). Instead of staying at my old college this time (like I did last summer, which was glorious), I decided to stay at the Malmaison Oxford, mostly because it's built into the old Oxford Castle and the rooms are the former dungeon cells (very cool), but also because a travel writer colleague of mine had stayed here previously and gave it rave reviews.

Okay, so the receptionist who checked me in was very blah-blah. Fine. But then she sends me and my two huge bags up the STAIRS (you read that right, stairs with luggage, four-star hotel) to my room. No offer of help. I was like, okay, whatever, I'm totally exhausted, but I'll just haul my luggage myself and pass out. (** Hauling my own enormous bags is the first thing I wouldn't have had to do if they knew I was press.)

Well, that napping plan was foiled as soon as I got to my room, which (get this) was next to the ice rink, which blares crazy music (we're talking about covers of Gwen Stefani's 'What You Waiting For', cover of U2 songs, and dance remixes of Lily Allen and the Cure) for skaters' pleasure every day from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. It was so loud in that room that I thought the music was coming through the television -- so I stood there like an idiot for five minutes turning the TV on and off. Finally, I called the reception desk:

Me: "Hi, I just checked in to room 114. What is that noise?"
Her: "Oh yeah, hi, it's the ice rink."
Me: "Will it ever stop?"
Her: "They close at eight."
Me: "Uh, okay."
Her: "Is it a problem?"
Me: "I'll call you back."

(** This is the second thing. They would never have stuck a journalist in a known super-noisy room, especially coming off a red-eye flight.)

So, no nap, too noisy, decided to go out to get some food and the weekly gossip rags. About five minutes after I returned, I decided that I just couldn't take it anymore, so I went downstairs, found another receptionist to help me, and switched rooms. Fine.

New room, new problem. Internet doesn't bloody work.

Guy comes upstairs and says, "Oh, it's a Mac."
Whatever that means. He says he will call maintenance. What are they going to do?

(** This is the third thing. They should have fixed the problem. Since I'm a civilian, I just have to deal with all this faffing about, being stuck in a ridiculously noisy room, broken internet, blah blah blah. If I was working? I guarantee I'd never have had a problem to start with.)

Looks like for the next few days I will be blogging from my Sidekick.

January 20, 2007

What not to do when you're locked out

Note to self: A spatula is not a locksmith.

January 19, 2007

Lacrosse-over stardom

Lacrosse-Over Stardom


January 19, 2007 -- IF you missed the auditions for "So You Think You Can Dance" and "American Idol" but have your heart set on the spotlight, consider this: cheering for a lacrosse team.
"I know some women who've danced on a sports team, and they've gone on to dance in the Grammys, the VMAs, dancing in music videos, modeling, acting, movies," says Daisy Flores, a member of the newly formed New York Titans Dance Team.

Though highbrow patrons of dance might scoff at the short-term aspirations of sports team dancers - sports bras and hot pants in an arena of flying balls - these are women with big dreams, and rallying a crowd during halftime is just the beginning.

Just graduated from college with a major in dance theater, Flores has been touring with dance companies since high school - even scoring a modern-dance gig traveling through Europe. With a degree and professional experience under her belt and a world of opportunity open before her, what will her next move be - Broadway? Lincoln Center?

"Dancing at Madison Square Garden," she says. "I've been auditioning for years for the Knicks City Dancers, and last time I was one of three finalists. I want to be on a team for the exposure and the opportunities. Plus, being able to dance in front of a crowd - you get a rush dancing in front of all those people."

The 12 women selected earlier this month for the Titans Dance Team will experience that rush tomorrow, when the Titans make their home debut at Madison Square Garden.

All the dancers dream of fame. For those who are just starting out, like 18-year-old Heather Johnson, whose last professional gig was dancing at a resort in Cancun, Mexico, being part of the team is an enormous, albeit unplanned, step up the industry ladder.

"I never thought I'd be on a dance team," Johnson says. "I thought I'd do Broadway or cruise lines."

But despite the draw of bright lights on Broadway, the temptation of that instant adrenaline rush and the quick-fix fame of dancing in a sports arena are hard to beat - even if some may be a little foggy on what lacrosse actually entails.

"I'm not completely familiar with the sport," admits dance team member Yue Xu. "But I've seen a lacrosse racket." (Yeah, that's lacrosse stick to you and me.)

"I guess after eight games we'll learn something," Johnson adds. "I heard it's like soccer in the air - I can handle soccer."

For most of the dancers, the hard work, hours of rehearsal, sweat, injuries and tears aren't shed for love of the game.

"A friend of mine is a dancer for the Nets," says Connecticut native Lauren Podber, who, on her days off, works at a nonprofit dance company that helps children in need. "It's a much bigger audience than Broadway - it's thousands of people, and they're excited to see you. Plus, it's really good exposure - and it's definitely a gateway to other promotional opportunities."

New Jersey native Amy Asmuth, a veteran of sports dance teams, has big dreams for the future. A former professional baton-twirler and XFL cheerleader who's worked as a 103.5 WKTU Beachstock '05 and '06 dancer as well as a VMA backup dancer for Panic! at the Disco, Asmuth even tried out for "So You Think You Can Dance."

"I came in 70th out of about 2,000 people," she says. "It was rough out there - furious, heavy competition."

Her ultimate dream job? "To have my own album and tour the world with my own show," she says. "But right now my passion is dancing in front of thousands of people - that's really where I get my vibe. Dancing in front of 30,000 people is an unbelievable feeling."

Once, I almost got a dog

A couple of months ago, near the beginning of fall, I took the subway all the way uptown to a pet shop that only sells dogs from responsible breeders. There, I spent nearly two hours playing with a teensy weensy little Yorkshire Terrier and very nearly shelled out the $2800 + supplies to take him home.

But I didn't.

It was just one of those New York single-girl moments when I thought that maybe it would be nice to live with another living, breathing thing. Not a plant, I'm not so keen on plants. But something like a dog (I briefly considered getting a rabbit, but I really wouldn't even know how to begin rabbit-proofing my apartment) -- to hang out with and not have to talk to, to take out for walks, to sit on the couch and watch TV with. A little furry sentient being that doesn't send mixed signals, need its own closet space, or require long-winded conversations about what to eat for dinner, you know?

In retrospect, I'm really happy I didn't get a dog. Though I still pine after puppies on the street -- my friend Raakhee can well attest to this -- my lifestyle just isn't conducive to having a pet. Or a plant, for that matter.

Luckily, my brother had the good sense (and the gumption to willfully annoy my parents) and rescued a dog from an upstate animal shelter. The dog's name is Hero and my mom tells me he's quite well-behaved and polite as far as dogs go. Smart as a whip too. I'm meeting him for the first time on Sunday and I couldn't be more excited! Welcome to the family, puppy.

Okay, this is really funny...

My friend Nick Parish has been on Gawker twice in recent memory -- and both times referred to as a "hot guy." The first time? Nick went to the Jane magazine party celebrating the 30th birthday of their Virgin Blogger, Sarah. Sarah calls Nick a "cute guy" on video and Nick grins. A lot.

Then, last night, Nick went to the Vice "Girls" book launch and gets photographed by Gawker roving reporter Heather who calls him a "hot guy."

Isn't that cute! Nick is famous for being cute.

Hey girls: Guess what? He's funny too!

Check out his film debut:

Hit him up -- nickparish.net

Tonight's bedtime reading

January 18, 2007

Haute haute haute!

Haute List


- Wardrobe in a bag

OVERHEARD in SoHo last week: One 20-something boy declares to his fashionable friend: "Our generation will be known as the generation that perfected layering." Sorry honey, layering has been around long before Gen Y.

Anyone remember that '80s and '90s mall store Units, where neck gaiters became dresses became skirts became boob tubes? Mixing and matching, layering and multipurpose basics are perennial favorites in fashion - and Alice + Olivia's done it the best this season with their three-piece Layers kit ($298 at Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Ave., [212] 247-1100). The kit includes a pair of leggings, a bodysuit and a long rouched tank - all made from Alice + Olivia's special tubular fabric that never stretches out or loses its shape.

The pieces can be worn alone or together in a variety of combinations and promise to blend seamlessly into any existing wardrobe.

Later this year, Donna Karan will launch Icons, a new seven-piece line devoted to Karan's original take on the modern woman's wardrobe. The collection, which includes a bodysuit, a skirt, tailored pants and jackets, knits, a coat and one piece of evening wear, will be priced from $595 to $2,995, and will be sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman beginning late spring.

But for anyone on a budget, American Apparel (americanapparelstore.com) operates on a similar concept - socks, leggings, tanks, dresses and tops in a rainbow of colors and range of styles at ultra-affordable prices.

- Man purse of the moment

A good man (bag) is hard to find - so when this sleek Raf Simons number hit stores earlier this season, with two laptop-size compartments, a third secret zip-around section, and a strap that's long enough to sling across the chest, it sold out all over the world in two short weeks.

But thanks to a shipping delay, the bags have only just turned up at Seven New York ($450, 110 Mercer St., [646] 654-0156; sevennewyork.com) - so get yours now before they're gone.

Raf Simons (pronounced Raff SIH-mun), the fashion world's last-word-in-cool du jour - he designs his own much-heralded menswear line and is the creative director of Jil Sander (both men's and women's) - is notoriously elusive and rarely allows himself to be photographed. His clothes and accessories, which are available at Barneys, Jeffrey, Atelier and Seven New York, are famed for their sleek, meticulous tailoring and graphic prints. This season's bags, belts, motocross boots and puffa jackets were instant hits.

- Obsessions of the week

* In the biblical sense: Though jewelry designer Tara Levitin creates her charming, quirky pieces - like delicate silver, hinged vampire fangs, doll-size movable scissors pendants, and typewriter charms on biker bracelets - in Texas, her fans are decidedly downtown. Leviticus Jewelry is a favorite of It girl Leigh Lezark of the MisShapes (seen here wearing Levitin's Ten Commandments necklace, which is inscribed with the biblical text). Best part? Levitin's prices, which start at just $30 for a necklace. leviticusjewelry.com

* Is that a test tube in your pocket ...: This month, NewBeauty magazine launches a TestTube subscription service from which, for $25 every three months, you'll receive an enormous package of brand-new beauty products handpicked by the NewBeauty editorial team. The first TestTube is worth more than $200 and includes some of the beauty industry's favorite under-the-radar products, like Babor's ultimate care cream and Jane Iredale's makeup for super-sensitive skin. Sign up at newbeauty.com

* Cold spell: Spoiled by winter's balmy temperatures? Well, great, because it's all about to change. Prepare yourself for the incoming cold front with OC61 salon's Seasonal Rebalancing Treatment. The celebrity-packed spa, which services the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks, offers a decadent three-step package - a deep-cleansing facial, an ionic-rescue hair treatment and a deluxe manicure - that's specially designed to combat winter's harsh dehydrating effects on your delicate bits (skin, nails and hair - get your mind out the gutter).

Seasonal Rebalancing: $315 Tuesdays through Saturdays, $275 on Mondays. At OC61 salon: 33 E. 61st St., (212) 935-6261; oc61.com

January 17, 2007

Reyes of light



January 17, 2007 -- A relative newcomer to the red carpet, fashion designer Brian Reyes scored the coup of the evening at the Golden Globes when "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera rocked his gown down the red carpet. The $4,650 indigo-violet chiffon creation was custom-made for Ferrera - a starlet Reyes has been a "huge fan of since 'Real Women Have Curves,'" says his rep. "Brian grew up in Colombia watching the original program that 'Ugly Betty' is based on."

Reyes, who previously worked for Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta and Michael Kors, launched his eponymous line last year. His work, which is usually priced from $395 to $7,995, retails at Barneys New York and Henri Bendel. And although he, personally, flies below the radar, his A-list clients - beautiful city girls like Ivanka Trump - sing his praises.

January 15, 2007

Golden Globes' make-up



January 15, 2007 -- THE dress? That's the easy part - just zip up, double-tape down, and go. But before slipping on that $10,000 gown and walking the red carpet tonight, celebrities will have spent hours - if not days - polishing, plucking and preening themselves to high-definition perfection. From the top of their heads to the tips of their toenails, no square inch of surface area goes untouched.

Legendary eyebrow guru Anastasia will be grooming the hairy arches of Penelope Cruz and presenter Jennifer Garner with nothing but a sharp pair of tweezers and products from her eponymous line of eyebrow cosmetics.

"Jennifer Garner has a desirable medium arch, which is great for creating a variety of looks for makeup - you can dress it up or dress it down," Anastasia says. "For the Globes, I am going to apply the Eye Lights Matte highlighter underneath the brows to define her arch. Highlighter is also great to camouflage stray hairs in between waxings."

The icing on the cake - color cosmetics - will be meticulously applied by the world's top artists, who are flown in from all over the world for this one night.

Contrary to the dark mood of fashion this season, the most famous faces tonight will be opting for a glowing, natural look. It's all about glossy lips and lush black lashes, says top celebrity makeup artists.

"Renée doesn't need a lot of distraction," says makeup artist Kristofer Buckle, who will be working with best actress nominee Renée Zellweger tonight. "Her gowns always have strong classic lines, and her face has beautiful cheekbones and blue eyes, so I try to keep her makeup neutral - with a pop. I'm sure she will wear lots of Guerlain Maxi Lash mascara in black and her skin will be glow-y."

Another best actress nominee, Kate Winslet, will go a similar route. She'll wear DiorShow mascara and powder, Rouge Dior Nude lipstick and Dior Ultra Gloss Lick of Taffy lip gloss, says her makeup artist Pati Dubroff, who will also decorate the face of Naomi Watts. "The look of the Globes this year is fresh and pretty: gorgeous skin and natural, glowing makeup."

Makeup artist Scott Andrew will be working with presenter Hilary Swank to create the perfect Hollywood starlet glow - Andrew will be exclusively using Guerlain products on Swank, including KissKiss lip gloss.

"Hilary always looks great in a nude, or light neutral lip like Guerlain's KissKiss Maxi Shine in Nude Shine," Andrew says - and Terracotta Spray Bronzing Powder Mist.


* Anastasia Brow Powder Duo, $22 at sephora.com

* Anastasia Eye Lights Matte, $21 at sephora.com

* Guerlain Maxi Lash mascara, $26 at sephora.com

* DiorShow mascara, $23 at sephora.com

* DiorShow powder, $39 at sephora.com

* Rouge Dior Nude lipstick, $24 at sephora.com

* Dior Ultra Gloss Lick of Taffy lip gloss, $23.50 at sephora.com

* Guerlain KissKiss lip gloss, $26 at sephora.com

* Guerlain Terracotta Spray Bronzing Powder Mist: in stores February 2007

January 14, 2007

The long-term physical effects are not yet known

I am so happy/excited that Jay-Jay Johanson's new album The Long Term Physical Effects are not yet Known is coming out at the end of January. My former flatmate, Maria, was the first to turn me on to Jay-Jay -- she'd play it in the shop and in the house and I'd always complain that she should let up on the depressive music. But now I know better -- and I'm hooked.

What? No really.

An editor I used to work for once called me into her office to rave about a facial she'd just had. After she was done, she looked at me and thoughtfully said, "You know, maybe rich people don't look better because they have better lives. Maybe they look better because they get facials."

There's something to be said for investing money in your face, and today, in a cleaning fit, I did a thorough blitzing-through of my personal beauty closet -- it's full of zillions of products that I've been sent to try and have previously been too lazy/busy to crack open. First thing I did? I applied some brand-new Dior eyeshadow colors on my under-eye-lid, a new surface area I'm experimenting color cosmetics on. There's a new glittery dark pewter-silver color that's going to be hitting counters soon. And applying to my undereye made me look like the totally awesome very-of-the-moment walking dead -- you know, that fashion goth look that I'm in love with.

Then, I peeled open my jar of Bliss Steep Clean Toner Pads. Been having some skin issues lately -- and I've been drinking tons of water and eating an almost-vegan diet, so it must be stress. This is possibly one of the most amazing cleansing products I've used in a loooong time -- one of the first times I can remember, since my teenage years, when I could actually feel the product working. And right away afterwards, it was like my pores disappeared, my skin was matte, clean, not tight or dry, and it actually felt healthier. I'd wholeheartedly recommend it for break-outs you can't solve by drinking lots of Volvic and going vegan (which is my usual no-fail solution for many a health woe...)

Anyway, the product I am MOST excited about trying, starting right now, is this Rodial Glam Balm. It's crazy expensive -- $95 for 1.7 oz (the tube is about the length of the palm of my hand). But, in clinical trials in England, it's been shown that over four weeks of use Glam Balm will decrease wrinkles by 30 percent and increase lip volume by 40 percent. 40 percent! I mean, I have big lips already. Am I going to wind up with a mouth like Amanda Lepore? I shall experiment.

This week

Sorry for the grousing lately... It's been a rough week! I think I'll go have myself sorted out (read: massage + facial) at Cornelia Day Spa, the most luxurious pamper-haven in New York. I hear they have a whole swimming pool filled with Evian. That's no joke.

Will be back, and in better spirits, shortly!

Is this plagiarism or just unethical reporting?

In the latter part of last year, I spent several months working with the fashion and beauty editors at Health Magazine on a huge story they were planning for January/February on dressing slimmer. Just saw the story the other day -- you can check out their take on dressing slimmer by clicking HERE.

I was extremely disappointed to see that they made over the women I had personally worked with without staying true to my tips on How Not to Look Fat. In fact, some of the tips that the Health editors made up themselves, like recommending empire-waist dresses made of thin fabrics and telling women to wear wide-leg pants, are totally NOT slimming. And not just not-slimming, but actually fattening.

I mean, this type of nonsense was the reason I wrote the book in the first place -- even though so many size 0 and size 2 editors may mean well, the fact is that without actual first-hand experience professionally trying to look thinner, their tips are going to be just theory -- not reality. I'm very very disappointed that my tips were mixed up with these non-tips.

I was even more disappointed that the writer and the editor DID NOT credit me for the tips I provided them. After three months of painstakingly answering the dozens and dozens of questions they emailed me on a near-daily basis (my publicist provided them with several free copies of my book but no one at Health seemed to have even cracked one open**), I had provided them so many tips that I may as well have just hit "Copy All" on my manuscript, "Paste," and "Send."

Then I open up Health mag this month and they didn't even give me credit on my tips that ran alongside the makeovers.

The tips they decided to take as their own without crediting me are pretty unique to my work and the "How Not to Look Fat" brand -- tips like looking for back pockets on jeans that are parallel to the center seam.

So, is this plagiarism? When a writer steals an idea from someone else, taking it as their own? I mean, she did write to me asking me to answer dozens of questions and I did answer her, knowing she was writing a story. But she contacted me through my publicist and the article and photoshoot were meant to, at least, mention my book. But they don't even mention How Not to Look Fat. And they didn't attribute the tips to me. I still have every email we ever exchanged, so, if pressed, could 100 percent prove that she stole my ideas. But what kind of recourse do I have? Or am I making a big deal out of nothing?

I guess they thought they could get away with jumbling some other random tips I gave them in a sidebar that ran after the makeover spread with tips from another expert -- they did give us both throwaway 'credit' in the read-in. But still, no quotes, no real attribution of intellectual property -- just a mess of random tips. (But hey, if you're going to have any takeaway from the Health story at all, take it from this part of the story -- the part where myself and the other real expert actually provided good tips, not the makeover spread where the writer just dreamt up 50% of it.)

Maybe I wouldn't be so angry if they hadn't been so extraordinarily difficult to work with. (Keep in mind that before they contacted me I'd done upwards of 30 interviews with people about How Not to Look Fat and no other publication -- even ones that have circulations millions higher than Health magazine -- gave me the kind of migraines they did...)


This happened to me once before, years ago. But I chalked it up to naivete and having bad luck -- running into a jerk of a producer for a major nationally televised morning television show.

Here's what happened: In my very first How Not to Look Fat column in the New York Post, we previewed what was going to be in the column the following week -- "Next week: How to hide your back fat!"

So that week, before the back fat column came out, the producer from this morning show called me up and was so excited about it --

Her: "We're going to do a segment on back fat and we'd love to use your tips! Could you tell me what they are?"

And, stupidly, naively, and because I had appeared on other morning shows before and they always want to know what you're going to say beforehand (so they can script the segment), I told her my tips. And she said, "Okay, thanks!" and hung up.

I was really confused. So the next morning I phoned her back:

Me: "Hey, I'm confused about what happened. Do you want me to come on your show?"

Her: "Oh no, we have our own expert. But thanks for the tips!"

Me: "But you're going to use my tips?"

Her: "Oh yeah, I mean, your tips aren't anything I couldn't have thought of myself."

She hung up.

If my tips weren't anything she couldn't have thought of herself, why didn't she think of them herself?

I thought I learned my lesson there -- not to trust people and get things in writing. But after doing several dozen interviews promoting my book and working with amazing writers, journalists, producers, and reporters, I forgot that people could be shady. I really should have suspected something was awry with the writer and editor at Health when, after two months of back and forth and hours and hours devoted to phone interviews and fielding their extensive, absurd email questions, they still hadn't read my book.


(** Every time the writer called or emailed me, she'd be freaking out over how incredibly swamped and busy she was. She would also spend an inordinate amount of time reeling off a litany of her personal complaints about her boss, the editor, whom I hadn't even met at that juncture. She's the one who told me her boss hadn't even bothered to read my book.)

Contingency luggage

The trouble with traveling light, especially to London and Paris, is that you need a whole pile of contingency luggage to lug all your purchases back. And without hiring a porter for the duration of your journey, how is one person truly meant to gracefully handle more than one wheelie at a time?

January 13, 2007

CFDA guidelines released



January 13, 2007 --

New York Fashion Week introduced guidelines yesterday meant to curb the use of underage, anorexic models - but the chances they'll make a difference are thin, industry sources said.

The guidelines, developed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, are nonbinding. Nothing will force designers to use models over age 16 or to ban alcohol backstage, and many will ignore those suggestions.

The CFDA recommends forbidding models under 16 from the runway and those under 18 from after-midnight fittings. Healthy snacks should be provided backstage, where smoking and alcohol would be banned.

Models who have eating disorders should receive professional help, the guidelines say.

But one designer claimed the guidelines were simply a public-relations maneuver ahead of Fashion Week, which starts Feb. 2.

The guidelines were developed by a CFDA panel that included group president Diane Von Furstenberg, nutritionist Joy Bauer and trainer David Kirsch.

Some models complain that enforcing the guidelines would threaten their livelihood.

"I don't have a guardian here with me, so I wouldn't be able to go [to a late fitting]," said 17-year-old Lauren Browne. "It would jeopardize me from getting that job."

Others wonder whether it's even possible to enforce the suggestions.

"Are they going to be checking ID when girls go to fittings?" asked Amanda Fields, who has modeled in dozens of New York fashion shows.

Following several anorexia-related model deaths last year, mandatory rules - which specifically defined a healthy body-mass index for models - are now enforced in other countries.

In Italy, it is prohibited to hire a model under 16 and models must submit medical proof that they don't suffer from anorexia or bulimia.

The CFDA declined to take such drastic measures.

"The CFDA Health Initiative is about awareness and education, not policing," the group said.

Shaping up

Guidelines released yesterday by the Council of Fashion Designers of America include:

* Provide healthy meals, and prohibit smoking and alcohol, during shows

* No models under 16 on the runway

* No models under 18 at fittings or photo shoots past midnight

* Raise awareness of the effects of smoking

* Teach people to identify early signs of eating disorders

* Require models with eating disorders to get professional help

* Develop workshops on the causes and effects of eating disorders

Fat cat

The idiot-proof diet

Today I was reading India Knight's story, "No More Size Two-Zero" in the London Sunday Times Online. It's her first-hand account of how after college, mid-career, post-two-kids, she found herself weighing 224 pounds and wearing a size 16-18 (US Size, about a size 20 UK).

I highly recommend having a look at it yourself here.

One particular passage she wrote really rang true to me:

"By that stage, my stomach -- never my best feature -- was a disaster area. I avoided looking at it in the bath and made sure my then husband never got a look at it. As my marriage started falling apart, I did the opposite of what you'd expect someone in that situation to do (fade away): I ate more. It seems to be true that in moments of stress, some women bump up the portions to make themselves bigger. Bigger equals strong, braver, harder to squash, harder to hurt, harder to ignore or dismiss. It's as though the fat becomes a carapace, a sort of protective outer shell. Illness, divorce, stress, the death of a parent: if you're the coper in your family (and I always have been), chances are you'll realise at some stressful point that you can't actually cope at all."

January 12, 2007

Princess Nikki

Nikki Grahame, my favorite reality TV star ever (from Big Brother UK), has been starring in her own reality TV show, not dissimilar in concept to 'The Simple Life.' But whereas Paris and Nicole seem to be going out of their way to be mischief makers, Nikki is just being her, uh, delightful self...

Here is the original Nikki in Big Brother:

Princess Nikki goes fishing, runs screaming from mussels, and barfs:

Princess Nikki tries to quit her show but ends up working at the zoo:

Princess Nikki on the farm:

Princess Nikki runs screaming from maggots:

Famous Last Words

New My Chemical Romance video.

Spend it like Beckham



January 12, 2007 -- THEY earn more than most corporations, spend more than some countries. And for the ability to kick a soccer ball and look like a stick insect, David and Victoria Beckham are England's most notorious, high-living celebrity couple. Now they're invading America. Rodeo Drive, warm up the cash registers.

Their rise to tabloid infamy began in late 1996, when young David Beckham, then a Manchester United soccer phenom-on-the-rise, flicked on the television and met his destiny.

"It was [the video for] 'Say You'll Be There,' the Spice Girls' sleek and accomplished follow-up to their first incandescent hit 'Wannabe,'" writes Beckham biographer Julie Burchill in her 2001 book "Burchill on Beckham."

On the screen, Victoria Adams, a k a Posh Spice, pranced around as a dominatrix in a black PVC catsuit.

"Beckham pointed at the screen and said to his best friend, 'That's the girl for me, and I am going to get her.' He later elaborated, 'It was her eyes, her face. I was sure just from seeing that video, that she was the one I wanted, and I knew that if she wanted me, we would be together forever.'"

Their worlds collided for the first time just a few months later at a Man U match against Chelsea - "And the rest was hysteria," Burchill writes. "You'd think there'd never been a Heterosexual Human Couple before."

The man with the golden foot (and surprisingly high-pitched voice) and the woman formerly known as Posh - the original footballer's wife and easily one of the tannest women in the U.K. (with suspiciously rounded, high-strung breasts) - have since become a British dynasty unto themselves. Their seven-bedroom, $13.6 million suburban home in Hertfordshire, which features a $40,000 treehouse and a $252,000 children's play fort in the back yard, is even called "Beckingham Palace."

Now, this July, following the expiration of Beckham's contract with soccer team Real Madrid, the dynastic duo and their three sons - Brooklyn, 6, Romeo, 4, and Cruz, 2 - will relocate to Los Angeles, where David begins his five-year, $250 million tenure with the L.A. Galaxy. Victoria was seen checking out a $10 million home in Beverly Hills, just down the street from new friends Tom Cruise and KatieHolmes.

Like Hollywood's own B-list-plus-B-list-equals-A-list power couples, Brand Beckham has evolved into a phenomenon. Sources claim that by 2004 they had earned upward of $190 million dollars - far more than each could have individually.

With his metrosexual good looks, David has fronted ad campaigns for Pepsi, IBM and Police sunglasses - and he's as good at spending as he is at earning. Victoria's platinum wedding band reportedly cost about $175,000.

As for Posh, not a week goes by when she doesn't live up to her name. She's regularly photographed by Britain's gossip magazines coming out of a swanky Bond Street boutique such as Dior, Chanel or Gucci. Her wardrobe is estimated to cost her more than $194,000 annually. But it's not just clothes she splurges on - in July 2004, it was reported that Victoria chartered a plane to fly her to Paris for one day to buy "soft furnishings," with the private flight alone costing $45,000. And like other uber-celebs (think of our very own Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan), Victoria is an object of both obsession and vilification in the notoriously snarky U.K. press. From her ultra-skinny frame to her rumored boob job, from her failed solo musical career to her suspected aversion to natural childbirth, there's nothing that's off-limits.


In one of her most famous public spats, Victoria called Naomi Campbell, "a massive cow" and a "bitch" after Naomi allegedly asked her, "Why do they call you Posh?" (To which she responded, "Why do they call you beautiful?")

Even fashion industry folk, who earn their living off Victoria's back, whether they like it or not, won't refrain from talking smack. "Tom Ford was horrified that she kept wearing his clothes," snickered one London stylist. "He called the Gucci p.r. office to demand she stop, but they told him: 'She's buying them! There's nothing we can do!'"

"It's also generally felt amongst fashionistas that she killed the Roberto Cavalli brand here simply by wearing the stuff," sniffed the same stylist.

At the World Cup last year, the U.K.'s Grazia magazine reported that Posh had been passing time during matches by rating and publicly mocking other footballers' wives' outfits - "Victoria has had everyone in stitches with her comments," said the magazine. "She marks outfits out of 10 and goes through the papers looking at the paparazzi photos to see how the girls look when they go out, when they're by the pool and at matches"

Posh's sympathetic fans are quick to point out, though, that she's been under great duress - especially after the first of a string of women sold their stories to the U.K. press, claiming to have slept with David. The most notorious was in the summer of 2004, when his then-personal assistant Rebecca Loos sold her story to the press, claiming to have had a text-and-sex affair with David while under his employ.

But after a tumultuous two years of publicly airing their dirty laundry, the Beckhams' marriage seems to be stronger than ever. And if their international track record is anything to go on - "Big in Japan" doesn't even come close to describing what happens when the Beckhams travel to Asia - expect to see a lot more of Posh and Becks at a newsstand near you this summer.

January 11, 2007

Haute List



January 11, 2007 -- D&G's secret wonders

THIS month, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have quietly rolled out two ultra-hot diffusion lines - an accessories collection called Animalier and a one-season-only line "Only Under 40 D&G".

And while "Only Under 40" is already on shelves at Intermix boutiques throughout the city, it's so shrouded in secrecy that company reps initially denied its existence. Only when pressed did they disclose that the label was a one-off - "A quirky slogan Mr. Gabbana came up with for the relaunch of the brand," says one insider. The two "Only Under 40" dresses available in New York - a perfect little black dress and a rose-print version - are "stretchy, for the holiday season," claims another insider - and, at $445, priced far below Dolce & Gabbana's main line.

And that's not the only good news for admirers of Domenico and Stefano.

Everyone knows nothing strokes the loins of a Dolce & Gabbana devotee like swathing herself in head-to-toe leopard - and now, with the introduction of Dolce & Gabbana's brand-new lower-priced Animalier line, she can do it at a fraction of the price. Animalier, a 21-piece all-leopard-silk-print accessories line of shoes, hats, belts, headbands and bags, is priced from $225 to $1,000. A special printing technique creates the illusion of real leopard skin.

"Only Under 40" D&G is available at Intermix (901 Broadway, [212] 533-9720, intermixonline.com); Dolce & Gabbana Animalier is available at Dolce & Gabbana (825 Madison Ave., [212] 249-4100, dolcegabbana.it)

Obsessions of the week

* This hair is made for selling: Last fall, when hair guru Ken Paves and hairy gur-ee Jessica Simpson hawked Hairdo, their synthetic clip-on extensions, on the Home Shopping Network, they sold out in a few short hours - causing mayhem and milelong wait lists on the network's Web site. The most popular piece? The 23-inch wavy extensions ($87.50 at hsn.com), just like Simpson wears. We tried it out and, as promised, the hairpiece is so easy to snap on and stays so securely in place that it's practically foolproof. The tricky part? Scoring a Hairdo of your very own. Paves hits HSN airwaves Tuesday and Wednesday - in the meantime, check out hairuwear.com for more info.

* Best dress'ed: If last weekend's balmy weather got you hankering for your very own Talitha-Getty-in-Morocco moment, get on the wait list now for this exotic silk number at Nicole Miller ($365, 77 Greene St., [212] 219-1825), which is set to hit stores in six weeks. Hot on the coattails of this fall's tunic trend, this bell-sleeve mini will warm your seasonal transition - wear it with leggings when it's chilly and go bare-legged at the first bloom of spring.

* Worth your doe: Oh Deer shoes is bringing posh red soles (think Christian Louboutin) to the masses with stylish and comfortable designs at sensible prices. Pick up these very-right-now ankle boots for just $150 at ohdeershoes.com. Wear them with leggings for mile-long gams.

Some like it haute

THE eponymous skin-care line developed by Dr. Erno Laszlo, one of the first celebrity dermatologists, has always had a star following - his client list boasted names like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.

But perhaps his most famous client was Marilyn Monroe. Laszlo's legendary Active pHelityl Cream was found on her bedside table when she died.

Beginning Sunday, Monroe fans and skin-care fanatics can view her personal collection of Laszlo products - 32 items from her estate auction in 2005, including a pHelitone cream, a skin paste, a face powder, and an Active pHelityl Cream with its box that indicates it was "for: scar."

Erno Laszlo consultants will also be on hand to "clock" your skin (that is, create your own personalized regimen). We suggest the company's Sea Mud Soap, legendary for clearing up all sorts of derma-disasters.

Marilyn Monroe exhibit at Bergdorf Goodman, Sunday-Jan. 27 (754 Fifth Ave., (212) 872-8858)

What does skinny look like?



January 10, 2007 --

Spain's recent banning of models with Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) under 18 means the country's most famous face, Esther Canadas , who reportedly has a BMI of 14, wouldn't be able to walk the runway. Other models who won't be gracing Madrid's catwalks anytime soon include: Kate Moss (BMI 16.1), Gisele Bundchen (BMI 16) and Naomi Campbell (BMI 16.5).

BMI, a number derived from plugging height and weight into an equation, is considered "a reliable indicator of body fatness," says the Centers for Disease Control Web site.

Would you make the cut? Here's how to figure out yours:

Weight in pounds/height in inches(squared) * 703 = BMI

Federal guidelines dictate that a BMI under 18.5 indicates the individual is underweight; 18.5-24.9 is normal; 25-29.9 is overweight; and 30 and above is obese.

January 10, 2007

The Game

I was reading Neil Strauss's book, The Game last night and there was this one passage that I really liked. It goes like this:

"I leaned over the edge of the Jacuzzi and dipped my hand into the pool. It was just as warm as the hot tub. Someone had left the heat on again. Our gas bill was going to be astronomical.

'Do you know the story of the frog and the scorpion?' Mystery asked.

'No, but I love analogies.' I jumped into the pool and treaded water as Mystery leaned over the edge of the hot tub and recited the story.

'One day, a scorpion stood on the side of a stream and asked a frog to carry it to the other side. "How do I know you won't sting me?" the frog asked. "Because if I sting you, I'll drown," the scorpion said.

'The frog thought about it and realized that the scorpion was right. So he put the scorpion on his back and started ferrying him. But midway across the stream, the scorpion plunged its stinger into the frog's back. As they both began to drown, the frog gasped, "Why?"

'The scorpion replied, "Because it is my nature."'

[UK edition, p. 448]

Too young, too thin?

Too young, too thin?



January 10, 2007 -- BLOND-haired, blue-eyed all-American Lauren Browne moved to New York from Boston six short months ago with a portfolio in her pocket and a modeling career in the bag. With a contract at top agency New York Models, a timeless look and great ambition, it seemed like nothing could stop her - nothing, except possibly the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Today, the CFDA will issue guidelines - just in time for New York Fashion Week beginning Feb. 2 - to promote a healthier working environment and lifestyle for models. Rumored to be included: providing nutritious snacks backstage at fashion shows, educating designers about identifying eatings disorders, and strongly suggesting that models under 18 years old not work late-night fittings.

For Browne, that last rule means she could be out of work.

"I don't have a guardian here with me, so I wouldn't be able to go to the fitting," Browne says. "It would jeopardize me from getting that job. Designers want girls who are easy to work with. If I wasn't prepared to live here by myself, I wouldn't have moved here in the first place."

What would the Super Bowl be without beefy jocks in shoulder pads? Would the Renaissance Faire go on without its free spirits in medieval gowns? And New York Fashion Week - what would it be without underfed models teetering down the catwalk in stilettos?

Though the CFDA guidelines won't be hard and fast rules, models and designers say that the suggestions are silly, detrimental to careers - and impossible to enforce.

"I think there isn't going to be a real way to keep track of all that," says Amanda Fields, a model from the latest "Project Runway" who's walked in dozens of New York Fashion Week shows. "Are they going to be checking ID when girls go to fittings?"

As for eating disorders, Fields says that while anorexia and bulimia are "less common than you think," she adds, "Some girls are just better at hiding it than others - for February Fashion Week they're coming in with coats on, and you might not be able to see it. And there are so many different kinds of eating disorders. But if a model is anorexic, you can usually see it when she walks into the room. As a model, you're not going to have much success if you can't show a lot of energy in your face or have stamina - shoots take a long time. Some models are naturally thin - they're born that way - and some models have to fight for it."

The recent eating-disorder-related deaths of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston and Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos has spurred the fashion industry governing bodies of Madrid, Milan, Brazil, and Argentina to institute and enforce regulations on models' Body Mass Index (BMI). Any model with a BMI under 18 (including supermodels Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bundchen) are banned from the catwalk in Madrid, for example.

"I don't think that the problem is solely in the modeling industry," says Luciana Gimenez, international supermodel and host of Brazilian talk show "Superpop." "I think that consumers need to speak up to say that they don't want teenage girls trying to sell products to middle-aged women, and that they want to see models with healthy figures in their magazines - that will be more powerful than simply restricting models."

"I'm 5-foot-11 and 120," Browne says. "I'm naturally this way; I have a healthy lifestyle. But on the chart, my BMI [of 16.7] says I'm off-the-charts underweight. But just today at a casting, a client told me that I have a figure - and that clothes look better when they fit, not hang off a model."

The CFDA guidelines are the latest in a string of what looks like a model backlash: magazines (even Vogue) featuring celebrities on their covers, beauty companies like Dove using "real women" in their ads, and fashion houses deferring to personalities like Cat Power (Chanel Jewelry) and baby celebs like Dakota Fanning (Marc Jacobs) to hawk their wares.

Professional models aren't pleased. "I know some models who say, 'Dove hates models,' " Fields says. "And they won't buy Dove."

But setting guidelines for models' health and well-being won't just impact the girls themselves - anything perceived to be at all stringent could enrage designers by infringing on their creative visions.

"I think it is ridiculous to force-regulate," says Stacey Bendet, designer of Alice & Olivia. "It is one thing if the CFDA wants to make recommendations or suggestions, but it is absurd to try and regulate who designers show their clothing on and how a model should look."

Furthermore, the practicality of scheduling fittings during Fashion Week's daytime hours is questionable. "It's very difficult to make it to all your castings and all your fittings sometimes," Fields says. "Fittings are at night because the designers are so pressed for time that it's the only convenient time on top of the model's casting schedule. I think the rule should be that younger models can go - but with an adult."

Designer Catherine Malandrino agrees. "I believe that models under 18 should always be accompanied by a guardian - as long as this is the case, attending nighttime fittings would not be a problem."

Malandrino, one of the most-coveted tickets of Fashion Week, has always provided healthy snacks backstage. "This will always remain a practice of ours," she says. "It's more important to take into consideration the human aspect of the model - as long as the model is healthy, weight regulations need not come into play."

Designers and stylists are not strangers to turning models away from shoots. "I know it's a difficult call," says Paul Sinclaire, creative director of Tevrow & Chase. "There have been moments when I've called agencies and spoken to them about the fitness and health of different models. I think every designer has a responsibility to do so."

For others as well, like Gen Art, a nonprofit organization that sponsors artists and designers and stages a huge multi-designer fashion show every season, the CFDA suggestions will be like preaching to the choir.

"When Gen Art holds a casting, it is always during the daytime," says fashion director Mary Gelhar. "We always provide food at those castings as well as backstage at the show. The Gen Art show does include a lot of new faces as well as more established models, so we are aware that sometimes the girls who come by are young. We are thrilled to have the booker and/or a parent accompany the model both to the casting and backstage at the show - I have sent models away who were very young and not accompanied by a guardian."

Even the edgiest designers agree. "Models are like hangers for the clothes," say the members of downtown design collective ThreeAsFour. "Some designers need a skinner hanger, some need a more rounded one, some need younger, some need older. It depends on the market they are speaking to.

"We do not mind skinny models as long as they do not look sickly. They are supposed to be portraying the clothes in the best possible way. We do not mind fuller bodies, as well - as long as they look good in our clothes."

January 07, 2007

The Full English

One of the things I most look forward to when visiting England is eating -- especially breakfast.

There's no paltry Continental croissant-and-coffee or a stodgy doughy bagel smeared with cream cheese in Londres (okay, maybe there is, but I make certain to stay far away). When I land, I always head straight to Oxford for a few days to clear my head, ground myself (I grew up there and, to this day, Oxford still feels like home -- plus, I think in the end, my feathers always feel a bit too ruffled in the big-city. Maybe I am really, truly, a medium-city-slash-large-town person), and eat breakfast several days in a row in some cafe in the city's covered market.

And while British food remains the butt of most culinary jokes, the reality is that British food is, at its crux, just honest, good, simple food -- no convoluted fusion, no weird newfangled experimental innards or sauces. Grilled meats, organic dairy products, wholegrain breads. Jams, preserves, salt-and-vinegar-crisps, good chocolate (Galaxy! Yum.). Fresh sausages, generous cuts of lean bacon, runny eggs, tomatoes for breakfast; a hearty sandwich on wholegrain bread for lunch -- maybe with some Branston pickle; and a good meat/fish and potatoes dinner with a side salad. No weird spices that you might get sick off of -- no weird indigestion-inducing food combinations. And lots of flakey savory pastry pies.

Every time I go to England, I come back laden with a suitcase full of Branston pickle, Monster Munch, Galaxy Chocolate, and cookbooks. Here are some of my favorites:

- Nigella Lawson's How to Eat, which ought to be required reading for anyone who loves food
- Nigel Slater's Appetite, a brilliantly illustrated (I don't like cookbooks that don't have photographs) cookbook full of simple-but-amazing recipes that break away from strict-measurments and teaches you to cook on instinct.
- Nigel Slater's Real Food, which is divided into sections based on favorite food categories -- for example, there's a huge section on potatoes, a whole part of the book devoted to chicken, also cheese, ice cream, chocolate, sausages, garlic, and bread.
- Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinner, a great cookbook whether you're single and looking for simple solo recipes or someone cooking to feed a whole family -- budget-conscious and easy on the time-pressed.

January 05, 2007

Judging a dance competition; wearing Watanabe.


My friend Farrah from MTV and I hit Lotus last night to judge the finals of the New York Titans' (professional Lacrosse!!!) dance competition (along with Constantine Maroulis of American Idol and Michael Lombardi of Rescue Me). It was super fun!


January 04, 2007

Flashback of a flashback

Ages (okay, twelve years ago -- I can't believe I'm old enough to have vivid musical memories from over a decade ago!) ago, I bought If I Were a Carpenter, a collection of covers by, then contemporary, bands.

Lately, I've been listening to Sonic Youth's haunting rendition of "Superstar" on repeat. For no reason, really, but somehow I feel the mood of this particular version is very 'now.'

(Maybe there's a 'new classic' in fashion and music. I'm not talking about sweater sets and The Beatles. I think in the post-70s glam-rock era there's been a new definition of classic (whereas most of the time, when people say 'classic' they really means 1950s-era...) -- like, great music from the 80s continues to sound modern -- I'm talking about bands like Depeche Mode, Morrissey, and New Order. Sleek black tailored pieces have been 'in' since the 80s. And geometric haircuts have evolved from their progenitors, those extreme Vidal Sassoon cuts have been softened in the last 30 years but still maintain some sense of integrity. Anyway, maybe we should work on redefining the word 'classic' to be more inclusive of this generation. Sonic Youth? Classic. Pet Shop Boys? Classic. Black patent leather pointy stilettos? Classic. But, obviously, not in that mother-of-pearl pleated skirt way...)

So call it a revival of a revival or a flashback of a flashback.

Here it is in its video entirety.

PS Speaking of music, my friend got me the new AFI concert DVD for my birthday and it's drop-dead amazing. More later on Davey Havoc and his fantastic style.

Haute haute haute - Your weekly round-up!

The Haute List


January 4, 2007 --

Clutch too much

NEVER mind that's it's only January and the city's yet to see the brunt of winter. Accessory fiends have already sniffed out this spring's It bag - and if your name's not already on the list, well, you might as well resign yourself now to a springtime in fashion Siberia.

"The bag of the season will be the Roger Vivier silver metallic clutch," declares Ed Burstell, senior vice president at Bergdorf Goodman. "There is a very high level of excitement surrounding this brand for spring - with more and more celebrity sightings - and this bag is perfectly on trend. It's a clutch, silver, metallic with a touch of futurism - all for only $750."


"Clients have been lining up since November," Burstell says.

Vivier, the inventor of the stiletto heel, has always enjoyed a strong but silent following among the celebrity and socialite set - his private parties and boutique openings all over the world pack in the A-listers. Dita Von Teese, far right, wore Vivier's signature stilettos to his boutique opening in London last summer.

The silver clutch is due in store at the end of this month. Join the wait list now in the handbag department at Bergdorf Goodman (754 Fifth Ave., [212] 753-7300).

Vivier's signature buckles adorn the feet of Dita and others - and soon, a silver clutch.

Makeup for dummies

Mastering how to paint on the perfect smoky eye requires a little bit of patience and a whole lot of instruction. If done incorrectly, what is supposed to be a sexy, smoldering look often resembles eye makeup trends from the NFL, which is why we love these new, foolproof products.

This month, Maybelline launched Expertwear Eye Shadow ($6.75), a four-pan compact with the words "lid," "crease," "brow bone" and "outer corner" embossed on top of each color. And next month, Stila plans to launch the Smoky Eye Palette ($38 at stilacosmetics.com), a four-color compact that's packaged with a speaker. Push the button, and a voice gives you step-by-step instructions, including what brushes to use and where on your face to apply the different colors.

Obsessions of the week

* Ladies Love Cool James: And it's probably because of the way he looks with his shirt off.

To get his hot body, take a page from his new book, "LL Cool J's Platinum Workout: Sculpt Your Best Body Ever With Hollywood's Fittest Star," where the perfectly sculpted singer and his trainer break down five three- to nine-week exercise programs. Included are diet and meal plans and some of his favorite recipes.

The Queens native even has advice for ladies who think lifting weights is too manly. Don't worry, he says, it's sexy - and you won't get too buff.

"You really shouldn't waste time worrying about morphing in to a muscle-bound man. Believe me, ladies, I want to be the hardest thing in bed."

* I Can't Believe it's Not Hooey: For 15 years, Victoria Principal has been hawking her cheap-as-chips Principal Secret Reclaim skin-care line on sounds-too-good-to-be-true infomercials. While Principal herself looks like she hasn't aged a day, cynics poo-pooed her Secret - until we foisted the kit on one of our own.

Our subject - who suffered from dry, sensitive skin, rosacea and, consequently, a debilitating dermatologist bill and a heaving medicine cabinet - followed the regimen for 30 days.

"Usually in the winter, my skin gets so dry it peels," our subject says. "But this season my skin's been great! And I usually go to the dermatologist twice a month, but I haven't had to go since starting the system."

Best of all is the wallet-friendly cost: A 30-day supply of cleanser, eye serum, SPF-15 day cream, anti-aging night cream and other items is - wait for it - only $29.95, which makes the six-product regimen cheaper than a trip to the drugstore.

Available at principalsecret.com

January 03, 2007

Sleep yourself thinner this year... and more!



January 3, 2007 -- HERE'S a weight-loss plan for the new year: Try lifting a pile of new diet books. January's resolution mania spawns dozens of new weight-loss manuals - and this year is no exception.

While there are a fair share of sage, down-to-earth eat-less-and-exercise guides, this year's most interesting launches are as gimmicky-sounding as ever. (Remember "The 3-Hour Diet" and the revamped Cabbage Soup Diet of bygone years?)

We took a gander at five books that promise to revolutionize the weight-loss industry - but not all of them, experts say, can live up to their promises.


$21.99, Warner Wellness

Authors: Cherie Calbom, a nutritionist who previously authored "The Ultimate Smoothie Book," as well as co-authoring a cookbook with George Foreman; John Calbom, a behavioral medicine specialist and psychotherapist.

Promise: "You snooze, you lose!" Resting up and eating to plan should result in a loss of to to three pounds each week.

Premise: By getting more restful sleep, exercising and eating according to the Calboms' 21-day diet plan, your body will produce more leptin (the appetite-suppressing hormone) and less gherlin (the appetite-stimulating hormone).

Sample menu: Breakfast: Green or herbal tea with lemon, 6-8 oz. vegetable juice, scrambled eggs, 1 slice turkey bacon, 2 slices fresh tomato sprinkled with fresh or dried herbs and sea salt

Mid-morning snack: Green or herbal tea with lemon, 6 raw or toasted almonds

Lunch: Baked fish with steamed vegetables and a quarter-cup of wild rice

Mid-afternoon snack: Sparking mineral water with lemon, 1 stalk celery stuffed with goat cheese, cut into 6 pieces

Dinner: Chicken Caesar salad and cup of soup

Nutritionist says: "There's something to be said about highlighting the chemical reaction in your body when you're sleep-deprived, which, in turn, affects your hunger and which macronutrients your body craves," says Marissa Muecke, registered dietician at the Sports Club/LA on the Upper East Side. "The problem with this diet is that everyone is different - not everyone likes nuts (some people are even allergic) and there are a lot of nuts on the plan. The same can be said for vegetarians regarding the amount of meat you eat in the diet. What I do like about the menu plan is that it regulates carb-intake and promotes eating a good amount of protein."


$21.95, Sounds True Inc.

Authors: Steven Gurgevich, Ph.D., is the director of the Mind-Body clinic at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine and previously authored "Heal Yourself With Medical Hypnosis." Joy Gurgevich is a nutritional consultant and behavioral nutrition expert.

Promise: The Gurgeviches don't predict specific numbers, but devote a chapter to finding your "perfect weight" using Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines. There are dozens of testimonials scattered throughout the book citing changed culinary behavior - "My food choices are so much healthier, I don't even want or desire foods that are not nourishing or beneficial," says Jonathan, a client. Especially remarkable? One woman, Margie, managed to convince herself that she'd had gastric bypass surgery when she, uh, didn't, and started dropping weight like crazy.

Premise: "Believe it, and you will see it," the authors proclaim. Using the included CD of self-hypnosis trancework ( "Never listen while you are driving a car or operating any type of machinery," they warn), change your way of thinking - "Each time you have a thought, observe it and neutralize it if it doesn't support your perfect weight. Change 'I just look at food and gain weight' to 'I can eat anything I want and keep my perfect weight,'" they write.

After altering your mindset, "release" foods from your diet - can the junk food and "welcome daily physical activity" that "enlivens and strengthens your body."

The book also provides a list of handy one-liners to fend of friends and family who try to "sabotage" your efforts - tell people, "I only eat when I'm hungry" or "My allergies seem better when I avoid ..."

Sample menu: The authors recommend substituting healthy options for fattier ones - for example: replace standing rib roast with roast turkey; eat roasted vegetables with olive oil instead of green bean casserole; replace ice cream with frozen yogurt or sorbet.

Nutritionist says: "Psychology has 90 percent to do with what you eat," Muecke says. "And everyone handles their psychological food issues differently. There are healthy ways of thinking to take away from the book, but to follow it completely will disservice you by making you believe something that's not exactly happening. The alternative phrases it teaches you are very positive, but part of the book seems extreme and may lead to readers avoiding exercise because they think they can will themselves to their dream body. Diet and exercise along with positive thinking and the way you think to yourself is what you can take from this book."


$24.95, Wiley

Authors: Tricia Cunningham, a motivational speaker, invented the diet and Heidi Skolnik, MS, CDN, FACSM, runs a private nutrition practice with clients that include the New York Giants and the School of American Ballet.

Promise: Cunningham shed 172 pounds in nine months by using this diet, where she ate dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner - she lost her first 100 pounds in the first four months.

Premise: Simply put, eating a big breakfast and a smaller dinner choosing whole, non-processed foods from the Reverse Diet food list, which includes nutritious things like whole grains, fruits, soy milk, yogurt, cheese, and fish. Dieters are encouraged to spread their food intake across six food groups - vegetables, fruits, milk/yogurt, grains, proteins and fats. The crux of the diet? Get a majority of your calories in the morning and at lunch: "Two-thirds of the way through the day, two-thirds of your daily food should be consumed," Cunningham says.

Sample menu:

Breakfast: 1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta, 10 medium shrimp lightly sauteed

Snack: 2 plums with 4 ounces skim milk

Lunch: Grilled chicken breast on a bed of mixed greens with olive oil dressing, served with 2 slices of tomato

Snack: an apple with 2 ounces of cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese

Dinner: 2 hard-boiled eggs and tofu served with a salad of tomato, corn and cucumber.

Nutritionist says: "Reversing a meal may work for some people," Muecke says. "But it seems unrealistic that people would want to eat dinner for breakfast and vice versa seven days a week. Plus, they will be forced to eat dinner at restaurants that serve breakfast all day, which is a big lifestyle change. The menu is well-rounded and healthy nutritionally, but I wouldn't expect this diet to last for very long."


$25.95, Hatherleigh

Authors: Apostolos Pappas, Ph.D., is a research biochemist at Johnson & Johnson, where his research focuses on fatty acid metabolism and its role in aging, skin biology and obesity. Marie-Annick Courtier is a chef in Paris as well as a certified fitness nutritionist and professional food manager.

Promise: Health comes first in Saint Tropez - by following the regimen, dieters can reduce their risk of heart attack by 33 percent, reduce risk of cancer by 24 percent, increase their energy, lower their blood pressure and decrease their depression.

Premise: By eating more foods that contain a relatively large amuont of healthy unsaturated fats - like Omega-3s - along with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, dieters emulate a combination of the proven heart-healthy Mediterranean diet as well as the French (people don't get fat) diet. The emphasis, the authors proclaim, is on pleasurable eating - the "benefits of pleasure and beauty of food are also key to the diet's success," they write.

Sample menu:

Breakfast: 6 ounces Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of sliced olives, 2 tablespoons of walnuts or pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

Lunch: 8-inch whole wheat pita filled with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 3 ounces diced chicken breast, 1 tablesppon of canola oil mayonnaise, a handful of baby spinach leaves, 2 slices tomato, pepper, and one-third cup of salsa

Dinner: 3 ounces baked salmon with 2 tablespoons of seasoned breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of canola oil mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 egg white, 1 sliced spring onion, a quarter teaspoon Dijon mustard.

Snacks: 10 baby carrots with 1 tablespoon olive tapenade; 1 sliced banana with 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts.

Nutritionist says: "The diet seems healthy enough for an average person," Muecke says. "However, it promises a lot of healthy benefits but it's low in dairy and calcium, which then run the risk of osteoporosis or low bone-density. Aside from that, it's a great diet to deliver the promises it makes when the country is battling cancer, blood pressure, heart disease, etc., at an all-time high."


$24.95, Putnam

Author: Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, is a nutritionist in New York and Miami.

Promise: Lose 4-6 pounds the first two weeks and 2 pounds a week thereafter. "On the F-Factor diet, many of my clients lowered their cholesterol so much that they were able to discontinue cholesterol-lowering medication entirely," writes Zuckerbrot.

Premise: "You get to eat carbohydrates from day one of the F-Factor diet. After years of avoiding the bread basket, the F-Factor diet brings carbohydrates back to your table, Zuckerbrot says. Combining high-fiber foods with lean protein like chicken, steak, eggs, turkey and veal, dieters adhere to Zuckerbrot's poetic ditty: "Fiber and protein at every meal, Makes losing weight no big deal." Phase one of the program involves eating three servings of high-fiber carbs per day and all the lean protein and vegetables you want - you're "guaranteed to have lost between 4 and 6 pounds," she says. In phase two, dieters add three more servings of high-fiber carbs and will lose 2 pounds every week. The book is ideal for urbanistas - i.e. people who don't cook - as it includes extensive options for eating out at a whole variety of restaurants.

Sample menu:

French restaurant: Starter: Tuna tartare; Main: Hanger steak with black pepper sauce; Side: Steamed asparagus; Beverage: Glass of red wine.

Italian restaurant: Starter: Tricolor salad with shaved Parmesan and aged balsamic vinegar; Main: Fish soup or grilled veal chops Milanese (with chopped arugula and tomatoes); Dessert: Strawberries.

Nutritionist says: "It's impossible to lose more than 2 pounds of body fat a week, so the rest of the weight dieters may be losing in the first two weeks may be muscle and/or water weight," Muecke says. "I don't like that they don't regulate the amount of food you can eat, which is a huge part of changing your lifestyle and eating habits - it's all about portion control. While I agree with a lean protein and high-fiber carbs plan, they need to specify portion control based on body types."