Don’t settle into the sleek leather seat of your Barcelona chair too quickly – fashion’s preferred seating is moving from mid-century modern to Dr. Seuss silly. Italian designer Patty Shelabarger, whose colorful Chinese-silk slip dresses and embroidered Indian capri pants are favored by Jennifer Lopez and Charlize Theron, has created a fanciful line of limited-edition chairs and benches made from the same fabrics used for her clothing line, with plenty of velvet cushioning and floral appliqués. Madonna bought the first three chairs, as well as miniature replicas for little Lourdes. “The chairs are very Alice in Wonderland,” says Beth Shepherd of Kirna Zabête, where the collection is sold. But at these adult prices ($2,000-$2,700 apiece), most parents will ban their use for afternoon tea parties.
As the handbag continues to be every couture house’s A-list accessory, designers are seeking comparable Hollywood talent to endorse the status sacks. And with the Jackie O.-inspired shoulder bag making millions for Gucci and Hermès’s Grace Kelly bag a perennial classic, that means starlets with the requisite Park Avenue look: Gwyneth Paltrow is starring in a print campaign for Christian Dior’s Perle City bag, and Mena Suvari and Julianne Moore pose like Georgica housewives in new print ads for Coach’s Hamptons collection, a line of pastel and paisley canvas bags. “These actresses are so stylish, and they cross the boundaries of society,” says Barbara Dente of the Dente & Cristina ad agency. “If you can afford it in the budget, it’s worth it.”
An American in Paris
Madonna isn’t the only singer to have recently covered Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Dutch-born singer Saskia gave an acoustic rendition at Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf’s first ready-to-wear show in Paris. It’s not the first time Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have employed novel concepts to hype their collections (which, until now, were never available for sale): They’ve created their own scent, compiled art monographs about their work, and dressed model Maggie Rizer in nine outfits … simultaneously. Barneys will carry their beautifully cut tuxedos and indigo denims later this year – along with ruffled shirts and pantsuits splashed with the Stars and Stripes.
“Nice purse,” a friend says with a smirk as I arrive at Manhattan File’s party at Henri Bendel with this little leather Prada number ($610, modeled at left) on my shoulder. Even though every designer from Gucci to Matt Nye is introducing a tiny version of the man-bag for fall, and guys were toting them at the Milan shows, I was skeptical. But most people at the party don’t say anything, and before long I start to forget I’ve got this dainty device hanging from my body. Then I catch a girl eyeing my bag. “What are you doing with that?” she asks, then cries, “I want it!” Another woman lifts a cigarette to her lips and asks, “Do you have a light in your pocketbook?” I do, but that’s about all – the thing barely snaps shut holding two packs of Marlboro reds and a cell phone. Aside from its sassy look, it’s pretty useless. But somehow I’ve grown attached to it, and after five whiskeys, when it disappears into some sofa cushions, I find myself shouting, “Which one of you bastards took my purse?”