Bet you'll hear THAT one a few times…
But, let me bring you back to a few weeks ago, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude were in the process of creation. That was also when the Christos were deep in the pockets of those collectors who actually finance these self-indulgent fanciful constructs of theirs. In case you were unaware, it is the drawings of the projects that bring in the millions that Christo and wife use to make these extraordinary artistic statements.
My former brother-in-law, and a great hero and mentor of mine, the late Dr. Amos Cahan, was part of the moneyed fanbase that supported Christo's earliest endeavors. Amos had been a researcher in Hematology, but a very unhappy one because he preferred living life to practicing medicine. He always said that his middle name was “Lucky”, which was proven time and time again. Boastful to be sure, but, then again, we must always remind ourselves that “luck” has a great deal to do with preparation meeting opportunity. One basis for this realistic boast occurred when the reluctant doctor managed to discover how to keep plasma fresh. Pfizer bought the rights to his discovery and also hired him as a consultant. Amos was set for life, the rest of which he happily spent making babies and buying art. He only bought what he loved and he LOVED Christo's drawings. Amos was right: They are really special. Even the small renderings I was introduced to on his apartment's walls were majestic and endlessly interesting.
In fact, there's nothing I can think of about this husband and wife team that is a negative. You may not like what they do, but you can't fault the spirit in which it's done, you can't fault the execution, you can't fault their sense of economics because it's all done with their own money and you can't cite boredom because the installations are destroyed in a couple of weeks. So, what's not to love?
And, if you'd REALLY like a treat, catch the two of them sometime in person: THAT'S the REAL show.
The night on which I was lucky enough to witness Christo and Jeanne-Claude do their dog and pony act was at an event presented at Hermes. It was the night after my last report from Hermes, the night that announced a benefit for the School of American Ballet. THAT night it was flooding. The next night, a blizzard had blown in.
Nevertheless, the joint was packed. In fact, a woman who had braved the treacherous elements was turned away at the door. “Only those who have responded can come in at this point.” Announced the kindly doorman. Despite the message he had to deliver, he was so gentle and respectful in his delivery, even this poor woman couldn't take offense. Luckily, I had responded in time.
I grabbed a drink, a few globs of nut-encrusted pate to nibble on, and climbed the stairs to the second floor where chairs were set up. I sat in the back row: The better to grab more drinks and hors d'oeuvres. I'm not stupid.
A stooped old man was led to the end of my row and asked to face a TV camera. Out of range, another man stood with a mic.
“Could you please say 'Ur-meez' when you speak?” Asked the guy with the mic to the old man. “They won't hear me ask the question.
“I have no problem saying 'UR-MEZ'.” The frail guy replied firmly.
There was a very awkward pause; a very long awkward pause.
“It's okay.” The old man said, finally breaking the silence. “Americans say 'Ur-meez'. The French…and I…say 'Ur-mez'.”
I'm sure glad THAT was straightened out.
A video played on a screen too low to the ground for anyone past the first row to see. It reminded me of those low-rent venues with stages that were barely raised from the floor. I'm sure that we have all seen far too many up-and-coming bands being subjected to this indignity. And, as audiences, we have all been similarly ripped-off by being reduced to “viewing” such performances entirely from the performers' foreheads up. In this case, someone should have, perhaps, stacked a few of those lovely Hermes travel trunks under the monitor. After all, this presentation WAS all about the visual!
A silence fell over the room.
The copper-haired Jeanne-Claude had arrived, followed closely by the very professorial-looking Christo. They appeared next to the monitor. Jeanne-Claude began to speak. Anyone who has ever seen the two together knows that she always does most of the talking.
Jeanne-Claude compared The Gates to a pregnancy and her hair color. “A woman's pregnancy is 9 months. It is very difficult, but not the point. The delivery of the child is the point.” She intoned.
The audience giggled and Jeanne-Claude continued her analogy. By the time she got to the hair color part, I, instead, chose to grab a passing raw tuna on toast hors d'oeuvres. Because of that choice, I wrote nothing. I do not regret that choice. I am not ashamed. In fact, I continued to zone out on the lecture and, instead, ruminated on the state of the man who sat in the row in front of me. The man was encased in a very elaborate blue body sling. I concluded that the time this man's body spent entrapped in this sling was not the point. The point would be made when his body was delivered from such a restraint.
I spied some brownies going past and I was dying for one. I decided to restrain myself because if I continued to eat at this pace, it was highly probable that Christo and wife would soon decide that I, too, was ripe for tenting!
The CEO of Hermes, Robert Chavez, spoke of the “… wonderful incredible gift (Jeanne-Claude and Christo are) giving to New York.” Jeanne-Claude accepted the compliment and spoke again. “Our inspiration came from an article in 'The New Yorker' and we're pleased to have the writer, Calvin Tompkins here!” The audience applauded. David Carey, Publisher of “The New Yorker” spoke. We were warned of all the invading “visitors” that will descend upon the city to see The Gates.
“We're only going to be here for 10 minutes!” Jeanne-Claude suddenly broke in. “We have to go back to work! It's taken 25 years to bring this project to New York…”
“26.” Christo corrected.
“26?” Jeanne-Claude asked back. “Well, it seems like 25.”
The audience collapsed into laughter. This woman is a treasure and as fiery as her hair.
Jeanne-Claude continued as Christo just stood there, looking bemused. You could tell he LOVED it… and her.
She explained that the installation would be up on February 12th, “…weather permitting. For our workers too, this has to be joy and beauty. We will not punish them. Gentle rain, gentle snow… that is permitted. But, a TERRIBLE storm? No!”
Finally, Christo was allowed to speak. He spoke of steel and the amount needed in relation to the Eiffel Tower. He told us that one of the workers is 92 years old. “He's worked on so many of our projects, we can't just now say, 'Sorry, at 92, you're too old!” Jeanne-Claude interjected.
Jeanne-Claude tells us that there are 600 workers in all. “We give them hot chocolate, coffee, lunch. We serve them on real porcelain and use real glass. No plastic! The uniform is designed by Christo. It is made wide so that it fits on top of a goose down jacket!”
It was Christo's turn again… somewhat. As he spoke of shape, Jeanne-Claude provided hand-gesture accompaniment. “She's like a stewardess!” Chortled the great photographer Michael Halsband, who was standing behind me with his dear pal, our very own Anita Antonini, the PMc studio's V.P.
Christo told us that there would be 7,500 cocoons, from which fabric would spill down when opened. “Our workers are not allowed to run down and open the next gate.” Jeanne-Claude interjected. “No!”
Jeanne-Claude then segued into a long soliloquy about recycling. My brain began to panic because this detailed recycling shit brought back torturous remembrances of long ago S.A.T. math problems.
While on the numerical portion of the presentation, Jeanne-Claude reminded us that the couple is paying for everything. “You shouldn't applaud.” She yelled over the clapping. “Our son isn't so happy about that.” The applause gave way to more laughter.
Jeanne-Claude explained that a gallery has never represented Christo. She explained that the couple finances the projects through the preparatory drawings and scales of the early projects and the next project, which will involve the Arkansas River in Colorado. Jeanne-Claude then seamlessly flowed into a sales pitch.
Soon, we were back to The Gates. For 16 days, 300 people will work around The Gates. There will be 1 million fabric samples available for free to those who ask. After 16 days, everything will go in reverse and be RECYCLED. “The privilege is to walk with the feet, heart and eyes opened! To walk UNDER The Gates!” Jeanne-Claude enthused. “It is not just for those who have windows over the park! It will be shared with the people from Harlem! There is no beginning or end! There is no FIRST gate! Do YOU have a beginning and an end?”
Though this question was rhetorical, the man in the blue sling disagreed. He debated the point with his friends.
The audience was asked if there are any questions.
“Why 16 days?” Asked a woman with bright burgundy tresses.
“New York is OUR town.” Jeanne-Claude answered. “We have lived here for 41 happy years. We love it here, so we give it 2 extra days. Remember that February 24th is a full moon! I love the color of your hair!” The audience laughed. “Christo said there should be one more morning. I say there should be one more day. Christo is usually right!”
He may not get much speaking time, but, at least, she gives him his props.
Jeanne-Claude further explained that money made from the project will go to Nurture New York Nature in New York, an amount that is in addition to the 3 million dollars the couple contributed to Central Park 3 months ago. The money will derive from merchandise. “We get no money from merchandise.” Jeanne-Claude explained. “However, we DID get 2 scarves from Hermes!” Naturally, she pronounced the name correctly.
But, so much for the 10 minutes and the need to return to work!
Nevertheless, as we all know, the project was completed on time. The pods were unfurled and down came the orange bolts of material from the orange steel “gates”. Everyone LOVED it. I can't wait to make the trek to see it all. And, naturally, those informed and lucky enough to grab those first scraps are now busily trying to sell them on EBay.
Now, THAT”S what I call “recycling”!
FASHION WEEK: PT. 3
It was going on 8:30 PM and the Zac Posen show was supposed to have started at 8 PM. Despite what all the brou-ha-ha and fallout over Marc Jacobs' now infamous late start (two hours!) might have you believe, it is not unusual in Fashion Land to begin way late. In fact, I would NEVER arrive at a show less than 15 minutes AFTER the slated start time. However, much to my chagrin, there were a couple of times when I was shut out because I had arrived 30 minutes late: So, I stick to 15. Even if you have a front row seat, at SOME point, the seat is either given away by the designer's staff or someone steals it. And who can blame them?
I settled in and explored the contents of my Goodie Bag. MAC cosmetics! Great! It's always so timely to get fresh mascara when the ones you have from the previous shows are beginning to get down with their bad selves and grow icky BACTERIA! What else was in there? Eye Cream! Have to re-gift that one. My mom always drummed it into my head to avoid eye cream. "It gives you bags!" She admonished. Considering the extremely oily skin my entire family has/had, more grease was the last thing we needed on our faces.
Initial entertainment was provided when the photographers discovered, then descended upon, Perry Farrell and his wife, Etty Farrell. in the front row. Farrell was looking more like a "Simon Bernstein" (his REAL name), all dapper in a sleek little suit, very much a well-preserved middle-aged Jewish guy. Maybe his Yiddisha momeh had also warned him about eye cream? Unfortunately, Etty, though possessing the type of name one's bubbie might have had, did not possess the dress sense. On one hand, that is a GOOD thing - if she had THAT concept of "fashionable", she would certainly not be Mrs. Perry Farrell. The problem was that, once a huge number of flashes went off simultaneously, her dress became so shear, she flashed them right back!
However, it wasn't the limited undergarments Etty was (obviously) wearing (or NOT, as was the case) that befuddled me; what confused me was how a woman who had just given birth a couple of months earlier could be so tiny and fit! I would have given her a big shout out of "Mazel Tov!" except that I find this relatively current obsession by the celebrity press with women IMMEDIATELY losing their baby-weight to be really creepy, really woman-hating, really dangerous and just downright Fascistic. The down-market press had a field day making fun of and wagging fingers at celebs like Kate Hudson and Debra Messing for committing the alleged crime of not IMMEDIATELY returning to their pre-pregnancy stick figures. For that I convict the down-market press of a crime against Nature. I also find guilty those who buy into this crap for aiding and abetting a criminal act.
Now that I've gotten THAT off my (ample) chest...
"Well, at least he didn't hold up THIS show!" A voice behind me remarked smugly. The voice was referring to Jay-Z, who had just entered the audience area from backstage. Jay-Z walked gingerly to his front row seat, accompanied by Damon Dash. After a few snapshots taken of them together, Russell Simmons joined the two. More flashes went off of the three Hip-Hop titans.
It wasn't until Dash sat down a few seats over that all hell broke loose. The paparazzi swarmed in en masse, climbing on top of and under each other, insatiably clicking away, seemingly at the same shot. Added to this fray were the TV journalists. Coming in from the sides were wild-eyed Nervous Nellies with plastered-on smiles thrusting mics into Russell and Jay-Z's faces, while hulking guys with giant cameras hoisted up on their shoulders were trying to record the (usually) mind-numbing exchanges.
The original remark about Jay-Z referred to the Marc Jacobs show. For some weird reason, most people were willing to swallow the excuse for the (re)tardy start as being solely the fault of Jay-Z and Beyonce pulling a Diva-play and holding up everything until they deemed it worth their effort to finally arrive and/or take their seats. Quite frankly, that's as ignorant as believing that Ashlee Simpson's "Saturday Night Live" wipeout was due to her band's incompetence and/or acid reflux.
Now, back to the real world (or, at least, the Fashion Week version)...
These same people behind me had been equally entertaining earlier. "Oh my god! It's Olaf!" Squealed the female part of the couple. "Or is it Ola? Whatever. She's SO gorgeous, I just LOVE her!"
She was referring to Olatz Schnabel. Still a weird name, so one could forgive the confusion. But, "Olaf"? Ya gotta love that!
Actually, I was beginning to feel the LACK of love from others in the room.
"Start already!" Someone yelled from the Photo Pit. Okay, okay, we GET it! Not that they didn't have reason to be a bit petulant, the minutes WERE ticking away.
The only problem I was having was, as usual, with my immediate neighbors. This time, instead of being jabbed by knees and elbows due to an administration of a neck massage to the person in the row in front, I had an ass on my head and another's body taking up half my seat. The ass belonged to some corpulent man in the row above mine who had decided to stand and talk to someone in the row above him. After enough of this, I finally head-butted him (literally) to get him to rethink his options. Then, this giant blond guy sat down next to me, whipped out his cell, whipped his body around, crossed his legs, which caused his body to lean into my seat and move on in. He stayed like that, chatting away about ABSOLUTLY NOTHING until the show began a half hour later. When I returned to the studio, I recognized him from our pictures as being a scion of one of America's most famous families. Well, so much for the concept of good breeding.
The show started so late. I'm surprised there was no fall-out from this one. Just when everyone was starting to get as restless as the Photo Pit, out swanned a thin nervous woman from backstage. She planted herself in front of Russell and Jay-Z and stood there all jittery and rubbing her hands together. "Excuse me?" She broke in tentatively. "Would you like some water?" "Can you believe that?" Asked the girl behind me incredulously. "The damned show is so damned late and she's asking them if she can bring them some water!" "Fuck that!" Said her seatmate. "If she's bringing out refreshments, tell her I'll have some Cristal!"
Sure enough, the woman brought out water for Russell and Jay-Z. Unreal. Actually, I wouldn't have minded some crudités..
The show was gorgeous. It was really the best collection I've ever seen Posen present. And I wish you could have seen Lola Schnabel's face when one particular va-va-voom floor-length hourglass- shaped goddess gown came out.
Isn't that what fashion is all about: Little girls (and some boys) dreaming about being Fairy Princesses?
FASHION WEEK CONTINUES
Well, I've just returned from Marc By Marc and, wow! "What a difference a day makes!" Actually, make that around 18 hours. For Marc by Marc actually began on time, not Eastern Standard or Mountain, but Fashion Time. The show was supposed to begin at 4PM and the length of a fashion show is 20 minutes. It would take five minutes to get from the site of the show to inside my apartment. However, I stopped to have a chat with my mailman as to why our mail always arrives so damned late (He was JUST beginning to put the mail in the boxes. He admitted that everyone is supposed to get mail by no later than 3 PM. He said that the problem was that the city is trying to deliver mail like they do in the suburbs, which means one carrier, as opposed to multiple. He said that this was absurd since the carriers in the city travel by foot and those in the suburbs have wheels. So, you can see, it was quite an involved exchange, not just a "Nice weather we're having" sort of thing). One must also add on the time it took to get from my seat to the front door of the site. Considering the gridlock created when a huge crowd coming from multiple directions have to filter out through the width of a double door without resorting to Hun-like tactics (A lovely elderly GENTLEMAN even helped me get my arm into the sleeve I was wrestling with and I didn't even request assistance!), one must tack on, at the VERY least, five, maybe a TOUCH more, minutes. I was in my home at 4:57PM.
Do the math.
Come to think of it, wouldn't it be more fun if fashion, music, sex, you know, the things that REALLY matter in life, were used to test one's skills with numbers when in school? Just think how many more students would stay focused and committed if the problems they were asked to solve didn't involve farms and trains?
But, back to Marc..
The show was adorable. The clothes were colorful and wearable and so damned CUTE. The models were very pretty and the song (Marc always sticks to one, at least that's what recent memory tells me) was terrific. There's really nothing more to say about it, except that you should check out the pictures.
Last night was a WHOLE different story.
It's customary for Marc to start his Marc Jacobs show very late. Hours late.
I remember one year when all I could do at the show was socialize. My husband had gotten tickets to some great concert, which we planned on fitting in after the show, but before the party. However, after an hour and a half of catching up with everyone, the show had still not started and reliable sources assured me that the clothes hadn't even arrived. The problem was that my husband was out front waiting for me. Therefore, with a heavy heart and a lot of guilt - I know how precious these tickets are and I worship the sainted Rachna Shaw/Marc/Robert for always finding room for me - I had to leave. We went to the concert, went for a snack, and then returned to the show's site in time to walk in with everyone to the party... which was terrific, naturally. But, it WOULD have been nice to see the clothes.
Because Marc's shows are such SCENES, no one really minds the wait. He's even known to have pre-show cocktail parties backstage. Because it is the last show of whichever day it's on, everyone is usually game.
This time was different. When I arrived 15 minutes after the proposed start time, you could sense an overbearing restlessness in the room. Despite the soothing strains of the gorgeous "Edward Scissorhands" theme playing over and over (and over and over), the atmosphere was far from CHILL; more like CHILLY.
It had something to do with the press. I'm not talking about the normal press present at big-time fashion shows, you know, like our crew (heaven forbid!) or such pros as Canadian Fashion TV Queen Jeanne Beker or Bill Cunningham. I'm talking about those poor souls who have to stay tightly piled up in that human pyramid at the end of the runway. I'm also speaking of the more paparazzi types who, by such a late hour, are really worn out and cranky and in a huge rush to get THE shots and feed them to the great rapturous jaws of the fashion and celeb-hungry world.
The mood was even beginning to affect me, wihich was a shame because I had been having a really nice night.
I had met my husband uptown for the screening of the HBO documentary "Inside Deep Throat", a film by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. I've known Fenton and Randy since they were little gothed-out Soft Cell groupies who pursued a friendship with me because they knew I was close to the band. So, once again, do the math.
They gave up their performance dreams (Fenton sang and Randy played a synth, naturally) and formed a production company called World of Wonder. They moved to LA. They had a huge success as the brains behind RuPaul's "Supermodel" mega-hit (along with Larry Tee and the super-talented super-clever RuPaul, whom I've known even longer than Randy and Fenton), then concentrated on TV things, particularly documentaries. They did a lot of sex-based stuff for HBO and eventually went into REAL film, with the controversial "Party Monster", about Michael Alig (another old old friend) and the murder he committed. Randy and Fenton always had a real soft spot for the sordid, depraved and demented. Because I seem to know so many of the same people they 've known...
Now Randy and Fenton have REALLY gone legit. Oh, their subject matter is still the same ol' same ol', since this film has to do with the infamous porn film from the 70's that was adopted as FABULOUS by the chic intelligencia of that era, but this time, their producer is Imagine Entertainment. Imagine Entertainment is composed of partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Can you believe it? Opie/ Richie Cunningham backing a documentary about the most famous X-rated movie ever made? And former Downtown denizens like Fenton and Randy, with their enduring Downtown taste in subject matter, being bankrolled by such squeaky-clean Big-time Hollywood types? How wonderful!
The film was/is wonderful: Funny, heartbreaking and really interesting. It is so relevant to the times we're living in because of all the self-righteous political types involved. Of course, that saga had a "happy" ending: Nixon was thrown out of office and the biggest crusader for the Right's morals and demands for "public decency", Charles Keating, was eventually led away in handcuffs and locked up for being a sordid, depraved and demented crook. (You do remember the Savings and Loan Scandal, don't you?)
So, I was in a very good mood.
My husband stayed on to hear the panel discussion by the godlike Elvis Mitchell, Danny Goldberg, Judith Regan, Alan Dershowitz and others, followed by supper at Brasserie 8 1/2. He later told me it was a great evening.
Instead, I made my way to Lexington, just as the 101 bus pulled up. I hopped on and, it WAS my lucky day, the meter was broken, so the ride was free!
Upon arriving at the show, I made my way inside with nary a hassel. I got to my seat & settled in. As best I could. The guy right next to me seemed to forget that other people were next to him and everyone was very tightly packed. I think that's how fashion contributes to their low-weight ideals: Gain a few and risk not fitting into a seat at the shows. Believe me, next to the spaces allotted to behinds on fashion show benches, coach airline seats are like Barker Loungers!
The problem with my neighbor was that his friend sitting directly in front of him decided to rest her head in his lap. That meant that his legs had to spread. On top of this, he decided that she needed a neck massage. That meant that his elbows had to fan out. And it wasn't even a "Love Thang": This guy couldn't have been any lighter in his loafers, which were probably of the finest Italian leather, I'm sure.
When he wasn't massaging, he was reading, so the elbow action again.
It was SO hot, I had to fan myself every so often. So did just about everyone else in the audience, except those in the front row: They don't sweat. They probably get those Botox shots in their pits that we're told celebs get before they hit the red carpets so they won't have those embarrassing rings. I'm sure Dr. Patricia Wexler is booked weeks in advance.
Unfortunately, everytime I fanned myself, this gent gave me the FILTHIEST looks. "Are you hot?" He asked the girl whose head was lodged in his crotch. "A little." She murmured. "I swear, I even feel a little COOL." He murmured back, shooting a dirty look at me.
At least the girl being administered to was communicating to someone backstage. It seemed that the clothes had only arrived at 9:45! The backstage was freaking out. The projected start time wasn't to be for another 45 minutes. The official start time had been 9 PM.
On top of this, I had to hear a little queen-in-training in the row above me display his superb knowledge of pop culture. "Why are they taking so many pictures of those blondes?" Asked his friend. "It's the Bush family." He sneered. "It's the sisters and that cousin. Why anyone would want pictures of those cows, I don't know." He added contemptuously. Maybe because it wasn't THOSE cows? Someone whispered something to him. "Oh, yeah, maybe they have something to do with a band." He paused, Another whisper. "The Rolling Stones? You think so?" He considered this for a moment. "Oh right! They're the daughters or something of the dead one! But, I don't know who that older one is!"
It was Alexandra and Theorora Richards with their mom, the former ubermodel, Patti Hansen. And, though many have begged to differ, Keith Richards is still very much with us. Nevertheless, collectively, they look about as much like the Bush family as, I'll let you make your own joke here.
Just then, all hell broke loose. I even got excited. I even got up to see what all the commotion was about! I love hat tricks! What incredible star had Marc lured? You would not have believed the lights flashing away! You would not have believed the mob scene that moved so so slowly into the runway area,! You would not have believed all the shouting! And you would not have believed how let down I was when I discovered it was Uma Thurman and Andre Balazs! Not that they aren't super, but, shit, you can see them any day of the week walking around New York or just hanging out. And Andre, hell, EVERYONE knows Andre! A real sweetheart and hardly a snob nor a recluse.
By then, the photo pit folk started hooting. They had already begun booing about a half hour earlier, but no one else joined in. "She said that the show isn't going to start until 11!" Announced the girl being massaged. Everyone just sat and fanned and looked exhausted.
When the photo pit began shouting again, the audience joined in and everyone began banging their feet on the metal bleachers they were seated upon.
FINALLY, the lights went out and a beautiful canopy of sparkling stars appeared overhead. It was magical to everyone except the poor photographers. More booing and ranting. How were they supposed to get anything in the dark?
FINALLY, up came the stage lights and the show BEGAN.
It was wonderful. Take a look at the clothes on the web site. You have to see the coats up close: Extraordinary! The only misstep was this weird billowy muumuu-ish shapeless tent that was made of a print of massive blue blooms that looked like Mama Cass having a run-in with some bad wallpaper. Otherwise, it was lovely. The long skirts had details that made them items to be treasured with nary a use-by date. Congratulations to Marc and Robert. Well done.
And the girl was wrong. I was in my home by 11PM. Exactly.
But, there WAS life BEFORE Marc.
Earlier that day, I went back to MY fashion roots and attended the latest presentation by the great woman herself, Betsey Johnson. She's amazing. And this collection was one of her best and most wearable. I grew up wearing her clothes, as have so many other little fashionistas in training. This woman has influenced so many: She's definitely our Vivienne Westwood, in that regard.
As I arrived, dear Patrick McDonald. The Dandy's Dandy, was getting his picture taken (for a change). "Hey Patrick!" I greeted him. "How big is my hat?" He responded. What? Okay! "Ummm, as big as my ass?" I replied. We giggled. We gossiped. All was well in the world.
Until I took a sip of the water I had been handed. Do yourself a favor, forget about this French water called Vitale. I swear, it tastes like soap! Funny, just earlier, some people at the studio were saying that they hated French bottled water because it tasted "oily" and "dirty". Hmmm, guess they got the hint because I've certainly tasted the antidote.
The show seemed to have a Scottish theme. Maybe that's Betsey's ancestry? It was all plaid and there was all this rootsy music as we filed in and took our seats. There were also little tables set up for the REAL front row people with little chairs around them and great big bottles of beer on them. The rest of us got bottle openers in our goodie packages, but the table people were the only ones who had any immediate use for them. With what I was drinking, I should have been provided with a wash cloth or loofah. Of course, there were some sheer little pink panties with a great big diamante kiss planted on the nether regions. No clean thoughts THERE. Bless you Betsey.
Suddenly, flashes went off (not THOSE kind, you filthy swine). Out strolled the adorable Carmen Electra, who was the special guest. The only problem was that stylist Philip Bloch was glued to her side and mugging for the cameras like a crazed baboon. Why didn't it ever occur to him that, perhaps, someone might want a picture of Carmen ALONE? Well, at least he had stopped making those naff arm postures he had been making at all the Black fashion extravaganzas in the preceding days. Earth to Philip: Yo Dog! You ain't from the Hood. You ain't Ghetto. No matter how many skull caps you place on your head, no matter what loose clothing you adorn yourself with, no matter what contortions you put your face and extremities and body through, no one will ever think you're down with the Homies.
Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning. Or, better yet, don't. Peace out.
On a happier note:
Super-stylist Wendy Schector sat next to me, which was excellent since she's an old bud. She had just gotten off the plane from Jacksonville from the Superbowl. "The Superbowl?" I asked in disbelief. I mean, Wendy's a fellow Detroiter and we're all born sports nuts, but, "I styled Paul McCartney!" She announced, glowing. Wow! And what was even better, she had given him a choice of wearing Levi's or a new line of jeans created by our dear friend Christine Rucci and he had CHOSEN Christine's! "He wore a T-shirt by Agnes B, a beautiful bespoke suit by Tom Brown and chose the "1 wash" DenimMafia 5EP jean!" Wendy related with pride. We let out a whoop! I had written the press packet for Christine and her man/partner Barry and now Wendy had dressed Paul McCartney in a pair, so we felt some real pride. Christine and Barry have just been through a year from hell and now THIS.
I couldn't wait to phone her.
Happy endings, it's all about happy endings.
FASHION WEEK: FALL 2005: LUXE & ROMANCE BY LISARAYE
I have been going to fashion shows for far too long.
My first REAL one was in 1981 when Betsey Johnson tapped me to provide the music for a show she presented at Rock Lounge, a Downtown club I was deejaying at. Betsey, ever the iconoclast, thought it would be great fun to have a club DJ play dance music, instead of the traditional canned elevator stuff that was the norm during those times. She hired the top runway models of the day and instructed them to get loose and act the way they would when they heard music and they WEREN'T on a runway. In 1981, runway models and print models were usually different, with runway models being the B-List. Nevertheless, Betsey had the likes of Pat Cleveland, Apolonia and, I believe, Jerry Hall, signed up and ready to rock. Luckily, these "girls" were such free spirits and were so shocked to be in a show that opened with Parliament Funkadelic's "One Nation Under a Groove" - which I chose because they all came out covered in one giant block of stretch material-that they each refused to give up the stage until they felt danced out. This resulted in a show that was slated to be 20 minutes (the official length of every fashion show) running over 3 hours. It was a blast. And, thank the lord, I was playing live (also not the norm), so I could keep pulling out additions to plop on the turntables when my 20 minutes of PLANNED material had been played out.
From then on, I did shows for just about all the greats and those who aspired to be, both here and in Europe. And when I wasn't creating the music for the shows, I was going to such extravaganzas as Isaac Mizrahi's, Todd Oldham's and Anna Sui's, which were huge and colorful and totally packed with Supermodels and only Supermodels: When that title really meant SOMETHING.
After a while, it all became just the same ol' shit.
The dwindling size, personality and individuality of the models gave way to a bunch of bland sway-backed coat hangers who couldn't possibly overshadow the clothes and the designers egos - which was the point. It had been the clash of the Divas and the designers had won.
Added to that was a desperation born from a great mass of people deciding that their self-esteem for the next six months of their lives would be totally dependent on being part of the audience. What should have been merely superficial fun (which it should have been if you weren't eventually receiving a paycheck as a result of being there) became a real drain. I had no problem participating if I knew there would be a nice fat payday at the end: I had even put an end to bartering my time for clothing because I had been burned too often in the end when it came time to collect.
So, I began to just blow off most shows. With Isaac and Todd no longer showing, the only shows that were worth the bother were Marc, Anna, Betsey and whatever newcomer had a buzz or could promise something a bit different. I had a big enough wardrobe that, if I was really jonsing to see fashion for 20 minutes, I'd rather try on my own frocks and walk from one end of the room to the other while admiring myself in a mirror.
So, here it was, the second day of Fashion Week and I had already blown off two shows. However, the "Luxe & Romance by LisaRaye" seemed to hold some promise. First of all, it was being presented by Lizzie Grubman, whom I adore, and her wonderful co-hort, Kelly Womack, who is so sweet and so capable and so sane: A winning and highly unusual combination for anyone in P.R.. Secondly, it was slated to begin at a very sensible time (4PM). Thirdly, it was within walking distance of my home. And last, but far from least, the recently rancid weather had turned into a sunny Spring day. Who could ask for more?
Because LisaRaye plays Neesee James in "All of Us" on UPN, a show that is executive-produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, I knew that the audience would probably be mostly African-American. This meant that schlumpy was not the look to embrace. Having been born and raised in a Black city (Detroit) and having moved to NYC from another major Black city (Atlanta), I knew that one had to show "respect". That's why one does not attend such blowouts as Sean John or Baby Phat in attire that connotes a lack of thoughtfulness and pride: That would be "disrespectful". That would be very bad form.
I forgot how uncomfortable my feet were in my dainty little high-heeled fur trimmed black velvet ankle boots as soon as I entered. The check-in was so easy and Kelly, looking quite glam in a stunning sequined trimmed floaty top, immediately grabbed me to take me to Lizzie, who was looking equally adorable. Make that THIN LIZZIE: good god, that girl gets tinier and tinier! I think that anything she's eating is somehow finding itself settling on my frame and everything I'm not eating is benefiting her. I've often accused my husband of this, but now I think it is a veritable conspiracy.
After I sat down, I went to the bar they had set up. The offerings were vodka and pineapple juice, coconut water and either guava or mango or something like that. I settled on the first three and settled back down to watch the audience file in.
There's nothing like an open bar to make everyone very friendly. This is so unlike usual fashion shows. Within minutes, I had made fast friends with this hilarious hairdresser next to me, who then introduced me to everyone else. I believe his name was Terence, he wrote it on the show's notes, which have mysteriously disappeared from where I placed them when I came home (such is the downside of living with someone). He was carrying a giant Baby Phat bag, which contained clothing that was supposed to be worn by a client of his who had missed her flight. I know who it was, but have since forgotten. Such is the downside of having had a giant vodka pina colada on an empty stomach.
We waited and waited and waited for the show to begin. "Someone forgot the feathers!" A very dapper black guy leaned over and whispered in the ear of the good-looking white guy sitting on the other side of me. "We can't start the show without the feathers!" "He's the one who put this show together." Explained the white guy, a freshly graduated soccer star from Penn State who had arrived in Manhattan two weeks ago to interview for an advertising job. "I know him because he lives next door to my parents in LA. They live right here!" The guy pointed to just below the Hollywood sign on my copy of the "New York Observer". I had been reading about the newest version of "Hurlyburly" with interest, because a longtime friend is in it and there were references being made to his former wife, whom has been deeply entrenched in my life for twice as long. I was curious as to how far the writer and the ex-hubby were going to go in that direction because the former wife is a very private person. Happily, the former hubby was the soul of discretion.
But, back to THIS show:
The biggest sensation in the audience was Debbie Allen, as far as I could tell. I saw a place for Damon Dash, but he never materialized. "Who's Beyonce?" I asked the woman next to me. She let out a shriek, then recovered to agree with me: "Right?" She laughed again. "I heard 'Beyonce' say that she made records in the 90's and she used to have straight hair." We were puzzled. Finally, the hairdresser returned from his third trip to the bar to inform us that the young woman with the huge head of long curls and the impossibly low pants and cleavage was Samantha Cole. By then, I had become transfixed by the glint of the charm attached to her butt floss. "I didn't know they were making thongs with jewelry!" I remarked to my new friends. "Haven't you been to Vicky's, girl?" I was asked. Yes, I had certainly been to Victoria's Secret lately (they just had their biannual sale), but I had never heard it referred to as "Vicky's". Hmmm, Vicky's, Mickey D.'s, I would have given anything for a burger about then.
Finally the lights went down, a cute little cherub toddled out, handed Debbie Allen a rose, then delivered lines as an old fashioned paperboy. Out came the girls in various states of undress because this was "a line of classic lingerie with a modern edge". The soccer star kept taking pictures with his phone. "Why are you doing that?" I asked. "It's for my friend." He laughed. "He's studying at the library."
The biggest response was given for Toccara, the axed breakout star from "America's Top Model". She was large and sassy, which was the polar opposite of the rest of the girls. Yet, despite her popularity with the audience, the soccer star never once took a photo of her for his friend.
Some things never change.