Monday was a mixed bag of no-brainer casting and compelling new faces. Runway veteran Anja Rubik lead the Oscar show. But Anna Gushina, who just debuted at Prada in September, generated significant buzz by winning Proenza Schouler’s coveted first spot.
We may have borne inadvertent witness to a catharsis of sorts for twig-size actress Brittany Murphy. At Monday evening's Max Azria show, we caught sight of Murphy — the first celebrity to wander out from backstage after photographers waited for about 40 minutes — refusing an interview with one gossip-magazine reporter by placing her hand gently on the girl's arm and intoning, "Not for that magazine. Your magazine HURT. MY. LIFE."
If there were any doubts about whom the Hervé Léger collection is for, they were laid to rest this morning in Bryant Park. At 11 a.m., the front row of the Léger show was lined with celebrities of the WB variety (who is Sophia Bush, anyway? That's Fug Girl territory) in full-out hair (updos! hot-roller curls!), makeup, bare legs, and four-inch heels.
• William A. Ackman of Pershing Hedge Funds got everyone freaking out about bond insurers by issuing a report yesterday afternoon predicting that MBIA and the Ambac Financial Group might just lose $24 billion on mortgage investments. “Here comes Ackman at the 11th hour upsetting the apple cart,” Douglas M. Peta, chief market strategist at J.& W. Seligman & Company, told the Times. “I don’t think anybody has really thought it all through, but we all understand the implications of real trouble in the bond insurers could be far reaching.” [NYT] Related! MBIA announced a $3.5 billion write-down this morning. [CNN]
• Wharton is still the number-one place in the universe to pick up an MBA.
• Following in the steps of other CEOs with giant mortgage-related losses, Merrill won't give its top brass any bonuses. But they will give them stock options "to promote the continuity of the management team as they continue to navigate through challenging market conditions in 2008." That's one way to hang on to staff. [Reuters]
Christopher Hitchens may not have expected to snag a National Book Award last night (his atheist screed God Is Not Great lost to Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA in the nonfiction category), but he was in high spirits nonetheless when we caught up with him near his second-row table at the ceremony. He offered to pour red wine into our glass as well as that of a high-ranking female Kirkus editor. We both declined, as we already had other drinks in there. Apparently, his self-improvement efforts for a Vanity Fair article hadn't gone so far as quitting drinking, though he did report he hasn't smoked a cigarette in six weeks. "I'm almost 60, and I should have quit years earlier," he said, before lecturing us about the fact that, "for fuck's sake," the little buggers are evil. When we told him we felt mildly uncomfortable in his presence the day after reading about his thorough waxing for that article (in a procedure he referred to as "sack, back, and crack"), he turned to the Kirkus editor and said, "Want to feel?" She didn't see how she could turn down the opportunity. The Hitch unzipped his fly, we stood guard, and she reached in. We can't personally vouch for what happened in there (and we're ashamed to say we demurred when he offered us a grope), but the editor speculates that he's been doing some post-article maintenance down there. "As smooth as summer cherries," she said. Looks like the Hitch truly is a changed man. —Boris KachkaFor more National Book Awards coverage, including pictures and quotes from Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen and more, read Party Lines.Earlier:At Last, Christopher Hitchens Describes His Infamous Waxing
We thought the Box lost its remaining counterculture cred when the Times, of all things, called it out on being pretty much any other club. Not so! The real point of no return came last night when it appeared, in the guise of club Victrola, on teenybopper drama du jour Gossip Girl. The place must’ve loosened its rules against interior photography, because the first scene has Chuck Bass (a son every bit as wayward as Simon Hammerstein) explaining why his father should support him by investing in the burlesque club: “No judgments. Pure escape. What happens at Victrola stays at Victrola” (until the Health Department shows up, anyway).
Here at New York, we take great pleasure in chronicling the blossoming young love between Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, also known as J-Vanka. During this Fashion Week, we’re happy to report that their saga continues, albeit a bit glacially. The latest “development”: Kushner and Trump hit the tents together on Friday to see the Max Azria collection.
One of the best parts of going to the tents in Bryant Park is chilling in the W Hotel lounge backstage, where celebs sip on mimosas before making their last-minute trips to the front row. Already, the Olsens and Gwen Stefani (and baby) have made appearances, along with Mya and Teri Hatcher. Demi Moore was supposed to come before Miss Sixty but accidentally got swept into the IMG lounge, where she was swarmed by the crowd from a party-in-progress. We caught up with model turned TV host Molly Sims and got the scoop on her shopping habits as well as the meta-experience of watching her former profession from the front row.
Fashion correspondent Fabiola Beracasa was backstage at BCBG Max Azria with a camera. See what the designer himself considers to be “relatively romantic” and find out what celebrity Arden Wohl saw at her first fashion show. And which pieces of the "sexy, sensual lingerie" will Molly Sims order?
The Max Azria show was jam-packed with socialites and celebrities alike, but none of them seemed to matter once the lights dimmed and Nicole Richie — wearing a bump-concealing, floaty thing — made a beeline for her seat. "You can only tell she's pregnant by her boobs," squealed the girl next to us. "She looks so much better with the baby weight on," announced another as we all stared at the wings tattooed on her less-bony shoulder blades. Well comparatively less bony. But it's a start.
Eugene de Salignac may have been shooting in an official capacity — he was, after all, the staff photographer for the New York City Department of Bridges, Plant and Structures — but his pictures have an air of whimsy and nostalgia rarely seen in governmental commissions.
Is it just us, or do the parties this week totally blow? Thankfully, Amber Tamblyn, who is just one whirling dervish of former teen-talks-to-God-dramedy fun, doesn't appear to know this. We love everything about the 23-year-old Joan of Arcadia alum, from her flirty sense of style to her dry quips answering stupid press questions (Q: "How are you handling the madness of Fashion Week?" A: "Quaaludes. Lots of quaaludes").