Twenty girls without deformity or blemish in any part of their body . . . The Vestals wore a white robe . . . and, on their heads, fillets ornamented with ribbons. Metamorphoses, Ovid, 43 B.C.–17 A.D.
Worlds collided when New York Fashion Week bumped up against the Academy Awards this year. Blame it on the first lady, but several big names on Oscar night dressed primly in white, like Vestal virgins, at the Kodak Theatre: Miley Cyrus, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker (ample cleavage cinched in virginally), Taraji P. Henson, Penélope Cruz, and Marisa Tomei. As the anything but prim Girlina (now DJ Lina) used to say to my Fashion Week buddy Mickey Boardman, “Honey, she has no la-la up in her swirl!” (No fun at parties.) This reporter also noticed a Vestal chorus of bleachy-blondes in Fashion Week’s front row this season. (Who are they kidding?) In the face of a trend of such terrible, Moby-like whiteness, I have adopted Girlina’s colorful dialect (Girlingo) to discuss society’s latest developments.
Vanity Fair Oscar party (move cursor over images to read captions)
February 22, 2009, at 10:18 a.m., on crimson carpet at the Kodak Theatre, Tim Gunn practice-interviewed a middle-aged bouffant with a sign around her neck that read Anne Hathaway. At 10:48 a.m., fat fans donned red T-shirts that read Bleacher Creatures, or BCs. As Girlina used to say in Girlingo, “Not the Jordache look!” Or NJL (meaning, not fab). The BCs then clapped on command, yelling, “We love you, Ryan,” as Monsieur Seacrest speed-walked the red plush. At 1:09 p.m., helmet-headed Vestal wannabe Mary Hart did a setup shot with a life-size Oscar while wearing a crumpled-up Christmas tree of a dress from Mon Atelier that blended with surrounding topiary—very NJL. You couldn’t tell where the boxwood stoppedand Hart began.
The Oscar arrivals moved like molasses, so let’s rewind to the zippier runways of New York. Of all the BCs at Fashion Week, Lauren Santo Domingo could be the tallest and thinnest. “They tell me I’m the first girl in New York to have chrome nails,” she said of her bumper-shiny metallic talons in an elevator after the Phi show in the Meatpacking District. In row three at Phi, I was surrounded by bleached BCs, a flaxen field of Vestal-processed blondes, platinum, and blown-out. On the runway, models were zipped into black leather Avengers leggings, projecting a medieval-modern feel, with fur shoulders and arm-long leather gloves.
Phi is what Vestal BCs might wear on the job.Charlotte Ronson, shown on Friday, February 13, is what Vestals might don on their day off. In SamRonson’s DJ booth, La Lindsay told me she wasn’t feeling fab. “I have an ear infection.” La Lohan had a big cutout in the tan Charlotte Ronson top she wore in the front row. That morning, backstage at the all-red The Heart Truth show benefiting women’scardiac issues, there were too many blonde, blown-out TV veteran vixens to count, including Jennie Garth and Valerie Bertinelli. Patricia Arquette’s heels got caught in her dress as we chatted (NJL).
New York Fashion Week (move cursor over images to read captions)
Saturday, VPL (Victoria Bartlett’s line, which stands for Visible Panty Line) showed body sheaths. In the front row, Hamish Bowles told me that his Grammy date, Adele, was giddy to meet someone from Saved by the Bell. In the show, models wore bits of hair around their wrists as bracelets. (Very Cousin Itt.) I found the undies and boots and la-la body stockings sliced off at one thigh (very Olympic luge team) alarmingly sexy.
Sunday’s Preen show was also a bit of JL heaven. Rihanna wears Preen, and the show was infused with shades of Morris Louis, dresses with slices cut out of them and coats with snipped-off arms. Preen hit all the trends, but with an artful lightness. At Hervé Léger, at 2:00 p.m., the bandage-based fashion was as slick as usual, but two mannequins wearing platforms fell hard (NJL) on the catwalk, and a gent with fab reflexes jumped up and steadied a wobbling third. At 3:00 p.m., the finger-snapping music of West Side Story accompanied theCalvin men’s collection, but the JL suits in wet-lookfabric were more Jetsons than Jets. At DVF (Diane von Furstenberg), Sunday at 4:00 p.m., models wore distracting yarn pom-poms on their heads, but the clothes shone through, and Diane Sawyer and Diana Ross revved up the front row.
Monday, at Donna Karan, jazzed-up pianist Eric Lewis rocked the house as DK presented dreamy, draping, fur gauntlets, and jewelry-like chain mail. Maybe our dreary economy harkens back to the Dark Ages, but Donna is lighting things up. Later, Thakoon’s runway looked like Anna Karenina goes to Le Cirque, with long leather gloves and puffy fur hats. Before showtime, Amanda Peet turned from me, mid-sentence, and began speaking to Grace Coddington.
Ahem. In a sea of gray, referencing the financial slump, bright punches of Day-Glo-tinged fur represented hope, while no trend went untapped.“This season, we’re inspired by Barack Obama,” Justin Timberlake enthused backstage at William Rast (7:00 p.m.). The high-testosterone edge of Rast co-designer JohanLindeberg—eyeleted jeans and laced-up leather—was very JL. Once known for starting hours late, enfant terrible Marc Jacobsnaughtily began his show three minutes early, forcing his photographer, Juergen Teller, and Interview’s crew—among others who arrived just on time—to stand, and we enjoyed much la-la on the snaking runway.
On Tuesday, Kate and Laura Mulleavyhighlighted the art inRodarte with short crinkly skirts and endless boots. Backstage at the chic W hotel lounge, before Diesel Black Gold, around 2:00 p.m., a preggers Nicole Richie scarfed down a Pop Burger. And that night, Mr. Armani popped open his JL new flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Posh Spice’s nose was dripping on the icy, open-air red carpet. A fur activist, screaming, “You’re under furrest,” got collared by security. And the grand stairwell inside the store was like a Vestal’s white ribbon looping up to the third floor. I had to hold in my stomach as Leo DiCaprio pressed past me on the curvy incline.
The next day, Michael Kors, thumbing his nose at the economy, exhortedmodels backstage with a sign that read: Luxe! It was a riot of brilliant pop color in the midst of deluxe grays and browns. Kors did the brightest and fluffiest la-la with glowing lime-green fur hats and brilliant orange sweaters. By noon, at Richard Chai, I sat in the back and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, Anna Wintour was still on the phone in the front row. Though drowsy, I recalled print dresses and suits in a fab faux-flannel pattern.
Slightly after 3:00 p.m., the guards pulling up the runway’s protective plastic at 3.1 Phillip Lim wereinterrupted when Kanye West and his Sgt. Pepper posse arrived. A smoke machine then filled the tent and, through the haze, I noted eccentric tuxes, sparkly tops, flapper dresses, and vests recalling early Sonny Bono. An hour later, in far west Chelsea, Vestal Marchesa models stood on pedestals. One romantic tulle confection had a train so long that, in real life, it might require stilts.
Exceedingly late, I limo ho’d with Glenn O’Brien to Anna Sui, well after 7:00 P.M. Sui did lace-edged Victorian hippie, using black birds and feathers as headpieces and mad ’60s-inspired florals. This Anna offers up affordable la-la for the Vestals. Day 7 felt like day 7,000, as Tommy Hilfiger hit the same bright orange and muted tan notes as Michael Kors, adding HoldenCaulfield chinos with shredded hems. By 11:00 a.m., at a demurely JL Brian Reyes show, models wore big buns and short dresses with spider-web brooches. One model walked out of her shoes on the runway and looked embarrassed, but at the end of the show, all the models reappeared barefoot and triumphant as the BCs cheered.
More May Society (move cursor over images to read captions)
Thursday, 8:00 p.m., I rejoiced at my last show, where Victorian virtuoso Zac Posen had The 5 Browns—five brothers and sisters at Steinway grand pianos on the catwalk—rip through complicated pieces, such as Mussorgsky’s“Pictures at an Exhibition,” while Zac took it to the Victorian house withbillowing red ruffles, a floral conservatory gown with a foot-tall conical shoulder, and, finally, Paz de la Huerta in an undulating chain-mail trousseau. Brava!
The next morn, I jetted to la-la L.A. on Virgin. AtMontblanc’s UNICEF charity gala that night, Sienna Miller (no Vestal, no how) wore vintage Ungaro (super-JL) while strolling an ersatz-Brooklyn street leading to a DeMille-scale soundstage draped in velvet. At a mirrored table, I sat next to Lily Collins (Phil’s daughter), 20 going on 35, and MillaJovovich, who split before the entrée (rushing hometo cook?), as did Reese Witherspoon (who matched Montblanc’s $50,000 donation and presented a$100,000 check). To be fair, we waited an hour for the filet.
The next day, at the Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, in a tent by the surf in Santa Monica, Mickey Rourke won and thanked the local police for giving him “a bed to sleep . . . I asked them for two pillows and they told me to fuck off.” There is just no editing Rourke. About professional wrestlers, he blurted out, “The steroids and the cocaine and the banging the girl in the ass in the bathroom . . . These guys are on the road a lot—they get lonely.” Oops la-la!
At the On 3gifting tent, Mickeyunexpectedly bussed a beachy BC, shilling Arm & Hammer teeth-whitening products. And at the Indie’s after-party at Shutters, a gingerbread Victorian “getaway” nearby, I ran into director Morgan Spurlock,best known for eatingMcDonald’s exclusively for a month on camera and nearly dying. He recommended the original Tommy’s at Beverly and Rampart.At 7:00 p.m., I threw on a suit and raced for Bungalow One (so JL) at the Chateau Marmont for Julianne Moore’s dinner honoring the former president of Botswana. Debra Messing told me her edgy Stella McCartney boots were murder on the cobblestones out front. Angie Harmon had a little fur on her shoulders—very of the moment. Andex-Botswanan prez Festus G. Mogae, in a white jacket, indicated that his country’s middle class depended on babes like Julie and Sharon Stone (lots of la-la on the couch next to Tom Ford) spending big bucks on gems. We sat at a long white table on the porch, and, with dessert, the ladies, Camilla Belle and Helena Christensen, were given a tiny diamond on a string. J-quality.
Back to the Oscars. At 2:32 p.m., helicopters circling the gray skies drowned the din of the BCs. Miley Cyrus attributed the style of her big phat wedding dress to The Little Mermaid. At 3:14 p.m., Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt tried to remember where they’d been when they’d heard about their nominations. “Somewhere in the world,” said Mr. Smith. “No, we were in Paris,” insisted the Mrs. . . . Need GPS? At 5:04 p.m., Penélope Cruz glided up in vintage Balmain. “It’s nearly 60 years old,” she said. “I saw it eight years ago at a place called Lily et Cie. And I thought, Someday I will come back and get this dress.” Cruz flushed when this oracle suggested the gown was an omen. La-la love her.
After the show, I raninto Denise Hale at the Mercedes fete at Montage. Sam Ronson, spinning, brought La Lohan in Vestal white. Hale, a onetime Mrs. Vincente Minnelli, used to host the famous Oscar party at Spago with Irving “Swifty” Lazar and was adopted by Graydon Carter when Vanity Fair inherited the fete, which this year moved to the Sunset Tower. Mrs. Hale enthused over Carter’s hosting chops: “He goes over every detail himself.” The VF party had a clear plastic tent half-open to diamond-dust views of Los Angeles. It was like a waking dream, as if you fell asleep reading the magazine. Elton John gushed over Anne Hathaway, who still had on the Vestal -palette dress. Reese Witherspoon led Jake Gyllenhaal by the hand.
Valentino hugged it out with Meryl Streep. Kate Winslet brought her parents (Dad in a funny brimmed hat). Helena Christensen downed In-N-Out Burgers. Josh Brolin and Diane Lane snuggled on a couch. And Jennifer Aniston swept into The Tower Bar very late and then dove back into the JL VF party to get John Mayer. When she returned, Peter Gabriel had bellied up to the bar, and Mayer, much la-la up in his swirl, sang Gabriel the first few bars of Gabriel’s Oscar-nominated song “Down to Earth.”
The next day, vestally flying back Virgin, I sat nextto a JL Brit charmer from VF’s website. He grew up near Twilight hunk RobertPattinson but denied a report I heard that mid-century babes hit on RP at VF. But at 3:00 a.m., just before he crashed, he said that Slumdog’s Dev Patel was still hugging the bar. The kids from the movie and Freida Pinto, some of the last to leave, danced Bollywood-style, “likely still on Mumbai time.”
Lastly, Interview feted 20 years of Patrick McMullan’s arty party photos for the magazine at Elaine’s,hosted by a preggers Kimora Lee Simmons, Iman, Jane Holzer, Anne Slater, Christophe de Menil, and Marisa Berenson, among fabulous others. At the party, before Patrick sang “Happy Birthday” to Elaine, Brigid Berlin, wearing a fluffy-fab Jackie Rogers top, graciously accepted my apology for fluffing a recent story about her. What a relief. I thought I might end up hiding in the loo.