There’s nothing like bookending day one with a pair of genuine national treasures: Liza Minnelli at breakfast time, and come supper, that deeply understated legend of Lycra-blend we call Kimora Lee Simmons. Tonight’s Baby Phat show was everything we’ve come to expect from the exceedingly subtle model turned designer, right down to the feathered hot pants, visible garter belts, and getups that felt inspired by Atonement via a few head injuries and maybe a martini.
We've been obsessed with Norman Hsu, the Chinese immigrant and would-be clothing entrepreneur who became one of the biggest Democratic fund-raisers in the nation, ever since he was arrested earlier this fall for running a "massive" Ponzi scheme. The Wall Street Journal today closes the book on Hsu with a lengthy and at times cinematic profile that begins with Hsu partying with politicos in his Soho loft and ends with his attempted suicide on a cross-country Amtrak. "Am I in jail?" a sleeping-pill-addled Hsu reportedly asked the conductor. "No, you're in Colorado," the conductor replied. But our favorite part of the retelling of the Life of Hsu was his interaction with a goon called "Shrimp Boy."
Raymond Chow, who acquaintances call Shrimp Boy, says he confronted Mr. Hsu in 1990 on behalf of friends who had invested in the glove business. Mr. Chow — who stands 5-foot-4, is heavily muscled, and has a dragon tattoo on his torso — says that at that time he was an enforcer for the Hop Sing Tong, an association that prosecutors have said was involved in crimes ranging from prostitution to heroin trafficking. Mr. Hsu suggested they collect money stashed at his house. Mr. Chow took the wheel of Mr. Hsu's new, white Toyota 4Runner; Mr. Hsu rode in the passenger seat.
Following Mr. Hsu's directions, Mr. Chow made an illegal turn and was pulled over by police. "I'm being kidnapped," Mr. Hsu told the officers, according to police reports. Mr. Chow and two associates were arrested. But Mr. Chow denied the charges and Mr. Hsu refused to testify, so the case was dropped. "He outsmarted me," recalls Mr. Chow, who abandoned his collection effort.
We all know that starting tomorrow night, the subways will be filled with drunk people in costumes, all the way until Halloween on Wednesday. In case you're still without costume inspiration, despite our best efforts to help your asses, we trolled last night's Fashion Group International Night of Stars gala to ask celebrities what their costumes would be. "It won't be from Ricky's," said Jane Krakowski, who has been wearing a fat suit on 30 Rock. André Leon Talley wrote our jokes for us. "I always go as myself," he said. Not a bad idea: You can do it, too, readers: Just throw on your graduation robe and call yourself an "Editor-at-Large." Princess Alexandra of Greece is dressing her 5-year-old son as Darth Vadar, but she recalled her most memorable costume? "My husband and I were once Catwoman and Catman or something," she said. You mean — BATman? "I don't know — we both wore matching cat masks." We tried Tilda Swinton, another foreigner. "I'm from Scotland where Halloween was invented. We have very different traditions. I'm not really sure what the American tradition is," she said. "I did see a woman on the subway the other day here who was looking through a very sexy lingerie catalogue, picking out her Halloween costume, but we don't switch it that way." Well, we explained, American girls like to look slutty. "Right. Well, I'm looking forward to it — when is it? Wednesday?" Sure is! "I think I'll probably wear my birthday suit." —Amy OdellGet fashion tips from Jean Paul Gaultier, Mayor Bloomberg, and Joan Jett at our complete coverage of the Fashion Group International's Night of Stars.
Proenza Schouler moved uptown to the magnificent Park Avenue Armory this year, and their fans came with them. We spotted the usual cadre of interchangeable blonde fashion editors, a sprinkling of socialites (including Aerin Lauder and avowed Proenza lover Jessica Joffe, who was wearing the same outfit she had on at the 11 a.m. Sari Gueron show scandale!), and, of course, Anna Wintour, this time with daughter Bee Shaffer in tow.
Ivana Trump must not be a Top Chef fan. Appearing this morning at Vera Wang (and sans her burnished male escort from yesterday), Ivana sat hip-to-hip with Padma Lakshmi in the front row — yet they never seemed to speak or exchange a glance. Shouldn't they be gabbing about how tall C.J. is or whether somebody could please place a ban on the contestants making tuna tartare?
In the increasingly competitive coffee-shop market, savvy independents keep searching for ways to trounce the Seattle Goliath. Some turn to rock-star baristas, others to the sanctity of their politically correct, sustainably grown beans. Roasting Plant, which opened last week on the Lower East Side, relies on new technology and Wonka-esque spectacle.
Earlier this week, André Leon Talley rhapsodized to us about Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta. We caught up with him at Vera Wang to get his updated assessment of the week — just click the links to see the looks. And he's still wearing "The New American Dream" Baby Phat coat the Fug Girls loved so much.
What else have you liked this week?
Marchesa, J.Mendel, and Michael Kors all hit a new radar—they crashed into a radar of American elegance.
Socialite and CIRCA creative director Fabiola Beracasa is filing regular reports on her Fashion Week experiences. We present her diary of Monday's Fab life.9 a.m. I was on an important phone call at work and watching the clock tick-tocking towards 10 a.m. I realized I was going to miss the Carolina Herrera show! Boo-hoo for Fab.
Jada Yuan caught André Leon Talley for a hot moment at Oscar de la Renta. These are his picks so far: "This show, I liked Jessica Stam with the white ermine bolero. Oh, and I loved so much with Carolina Herrera. Carolina's beautiful opening black dress and the plaid skirts with a muscle shirt, like a sweater and a sleeveless thing. And those big black culottes pajamas with the blouse and a sweater over it. This season I'm seeing American elegance, evening elegance, fireside chic. Sweaters with your ball gown."
Evidently, 'tis the season to soldier along with the unwashed masses.
Evidently, 'tis the season to soldier along with the unwashed masses.
First Lulu Guinness slummed it waiting for seat assignments at Matthew Williamson Sunday night, and then this morning before the Carolina Herrera show, CNN's Soledad O'Brien chatted merrily with a reporter about the size of runway models while she waited her turn at registration. Less patient was The Young and the Restless' Victoria Rowell, who jumped the queue in order to gain entrance on her own recognizance; all that hurrying was for naught, though, as she then spent the entire run-up to the show standing aimlessly in the aisles waiting to see if she could snag an unclaimed spot. Soledad, meanwhile, was rewarded with a prime front-row view. It's good to see karma in action.
Speaking of Wednesday's amFAR benefit, it also brought out Woody Allen for a rare public appearance. (He presented an award to an old friend, Dr. Mathilde Krim, amFAR's founding chairman.) After a charmingly bumbling speech, he sat, quite oddly, across the table from Soon-Yi and listened to Garry Shandling tell the room about watching Allen years ago on a short-lived Saturday-morning TV show, Hot Dog. "It was a show where they explained to kids how things worked and Woody Allen was one of the people who explained things," Shandling said. "I'll never forget the time he came out and told us that baseball bats were made of halvah, so that when you strike out, you can eat it."
Later we approached Allen to ask for an interview and were shocked to have him agree. Suddenly, visions of brilliant, hilarious, angst- and Yiddish-filled quotes leaped to our mind. We were thrilled. And then he proceeded to give us a series of totally boring replies. (Except for one tiny bit of news, that despite his last few films, he hasn't forsaken New York forever.) Feh.
Anna Wintour has agreed to let filmmakers shoot a documentary about life at Vogue as they put out their huge "Fashion Bible" September issue. (And Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley marched with the Reverend Al Sharpton at the Sean Bell demonstration.) A dead deer was found on the lawn of Dick Cheney's residence, the U.S. Naval Observatory, though the veep probably didn't shoot it. A woman who had an affair (and a kid) with Knicks legend Willis Reed in 1990 claims he is a deadbeat dad. (And New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has an adultery scandal of his own.) The girls at Scores East Side say Lindsay Lohan was awkward working the pole when she came in with Kate Moss one night, express surprise that she got a movie role as a stripper. A 29-year-old woman is claiming to be the illegitimate daughter of Mel Gibson. "Page Six" prints a nasty item about Keith Olbermann, mentions his one-night stand with a fan, notes that his audience is smaller than Bill O'Reilly's. Shocking. Former Secretary of State James Baker, Democrat Warren Beatty, and Republican Merv Griffin all got along in Iraq for one night, though it was probably the booze. Tennis great Chris Evert is dating golf great Greg Norman. Bruce Springsteen got some lovin' from Nick Lachey so he could go home and brag to his daughter. Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant tried to get flowers sent to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, but the receptionist he talked to didn't know who Ertegun was. "Page Six" asks, "Which 'socialite' has high-society circles buzzing that she originally joined their inner circle as a high-class hooker?" (Really, who is it?) A woman popped Valium on a transatlantic flight to London with Courtney Love.
For those of us who communicate via hand gestures and scrunched faces, Fashion Week is a real exercise in restraint. Thank God for actress Tracee Ellis Ross, whose enthusiasm broke the mold at this morning's Brian Reyes show.