Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Crashings Celebritya Catwalk Party

NEW YORK - Previously at Fashion Week: blogger Julie Fredrickson shoved a home video camera and microhpone into Anna Wintour’s face and, for one golden minute, plumbed the Vogue queen’s icy depths, completely uninterrupted. I can’t imagine what that moment must have been like for Julie. Maybe it’s similar to the feeling you get when your airplane reaches cruising altitude and suddenly, you realize that your carry-on is crammed full of forbidden liquids and creams. It throws into question the whole security scheme. Are bag checkers not as thorough as we expect? Is Anna Wintour not, in fact, surrounded by a magic force field that deflects hoi polloi and fatties?

Having seen such renegade blogger tactics lead to an interview (though, I’m assuming, a speedy escort to the door and a guarantee that, in the future, Julie will be joining me for a round of gratis frozen beverages at the Delta Sky Bar/Media outcast holding cell in the main tent) it occurred to me: can I do that too? Just how many invisible measures are in place to prevent me and my H&M jeans from reaching out and touching the front row?

After a few days of being moved around like cattle I know the score. The RSVPs sweep in, slashing their calligraphied invitations for all the world to see. Then the standing-room-only crowd mingles behind the barriers and pretends to be RSVPs who are just stretching their legs. When everyone else has been corralled, the celebrities enter. It’s usually not through the main door. Most are somehow smuggled in through secret celebrity entrances, or emerge from backstage just minutes before the lights come up. I wonder: in a post Anna-Wintour-security-breach Fashion Week, will bold new measures be implemented to protect the beautiful people?
After the Monique Lhuillier show I decide test it out. I call my operation, “Operation: see how damn close they let me get to people who matter.” Lights up. Models are out. I head straight down to the catwalk. After pushing through a few fashionistas hugging on the stairs, and a few timid onlookers who keep a “respectful distance”, it’s jackpot. The eagle has landed. I’m face to face with LeAnn Rimes, though, it must be added, I have nothing of interest to say. This reminds me of the time a friend and I used to run around Cental Park, attempting to kick pigeons. The fun was in running at the pigeons, then watching them flutter their wings and narrowly escape. On one occasion my friend’s foot actually made contact with the pigeon and it was awful — awful for him, awful for the pigeon, awful for everyone who saw it.

That’s what it was like when I actually invaded LeAnn’s personal space. In the time I spent wondering if it would be sycophantic to tell LeAnn she looks good, (and she does look good) someone more pushy than me horns in, dictophone in LeAnn’s face, and asks her how she stays so slim. I sneer at the softball question, but I also stick around to hear the answer because, like I said, LeAnn does look good and I’m sort of curious too. (For the record, Ms. Rimes enjoys yoga, Pilates and finds eating disorders to be ‘so sad.’)

It's all about being pushy
Those brief moments I shared with LeAnn taught me another truth about access at Fashion Week: once you’re in the door, it’s really all about who is pushy enough.

At the Bill Blass show later that Tuesday, the celebrities seemed to have finally awakened from their weekends (Doubtlessly spent spooning out soup to orphans, or organizing charity walkathons) and decided to show.

Janet Jackson arrives in a black hat and hoop earrings and a gaggle of photographers trail behind her. There’s so much fuss over Janet that I barely notice Liza Minnelli, Joan Rivers and Sigourney Weaver in the front row opposite to her. In what I imagine must have been some fashion intern’s most brilliant moment in improvisational ass kissing, the overhead music suddenly changes to Janet’s “All for You.”
After the Blass models leave the stage again, as with LeAnn, I go right for the money. I plow through the timid types like 62 inches of entitlement. And suddenly, I’m there. The pigeon is within the range of my toe. No, not close to Jackson. She’s surrounded by too many real reporters. I’m up close with Liza. I suppose I could ask Liza what she thinks of Fashion Week, but I think that MSNBC probably has people who are paid to do that. What’s more, I don’t really care. I haven’t seen Liza wearing anything but some variation on a black suede pant suit and a colorful cape in any recent appearance. Really, I just want to breathe Liza’s recycled air, and know that — were I to be cheeky enough — I could whip out a question a la Bruno from “Da Ali G. Show.” I feel like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Everything is in color and I realize that I have, in fact, been standing next to Liza the whole time.

So that’s my shallow lesson from Fashion Week: if you run up and rush the pigeons, every now and then you’re going to kick one. And then you’ll simply feel awful. The same goes for celebrities. Act like you’re entitled, particularly at events rampant with low self esteem (Fashion Week, karaoke nights, Air America restructuring parties.) and you may just find yourself up close with a famous person from the ’80s, ’90s, or possibly even today.

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Christmas Party Fashion

Late Christmas shoppers do go on about their dawdling, but the real damage from procrastination comes while decking yourself out for your Christmas parties, according to Gok Wan. Of course the presenter of Channel 4's How to Look Good Naked (and the man who rivals Jack Nicholson in getting women out of their clothes) believes in having fun during the rounds of mince pies and champagne. But for a showstopping look that also leaves you feeling fabulous about yourself - even after showing off your funny cowgirl dance - the trick is advance planning.

"You've got to treat it like a job and almost be regimented about it because it's going to save you the pressure and the stress," says Wan.

It starts, naturally, at the bottom, with the right undergarments. Yet that means more than just wriggling yourself into a girdle. "If you need it, use magic underwear to give yourself a cleaner line silhouette," he says, but also think about your hosiery and your bra.

"A lot of women also buy a fabulous empire line halter neck floor-length evening gown and then five minutes before they leave the house they put the bra on and realise they haven't got a halterneck bra. So they take the straps off with the scissors and then their boobs fall down all night. Or they don't wear a bra and feel incredibly uncomfortable. Or they use Sellotape as Tit Tape."

To make sure you look pulled together this season and your Sellotape stays safely in the drawer, use Gok's three party preparation tips.

1.Organise. "Don't wait 364 days of the year to sort out your outfit," he says. Get your dress and your accessories work out, know where you're going, and what effect you're going for at each gathering (short spangly dress for the knee's up with the girls versus festive but grown-up look for the office party).

2.Your hair and makeup. "Because often you're thinking so much about your outfit, it becomes an afterthought," he says. Good hair and makeup is key to feeling really confident - the cornerstone of the Gok Wan approach.

3.Do your grooming regimen. It's not just makeup. It's so much more than just makeup. "Make sure you've got your fake tan, make sure you've done your scrubbing, make sure you've done your eyebrows, make sure you've done your waxing, all that kind of thing." Basically, if it sprouts, sloughs, shines, curls, chips or looks pasty, attend to it.

And abonus is that the effects often last even after the tinsel is gone. "A lot of people, when they start doing this kind of thing for a function, do upkeep it as well, the manicures, the pedicures, the weekly spa treatments, the fake tan at home."

Plan thoroughly for a party season and it will launch you beautifully into the new year.

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Weekend Party Fashion Show

You know you’re going to be in for a rough ride when the very first comic book-style story page in a game contains no less than three grammatical gaffes, starting with “Meet Lilly. She is a fashion consultant in young, growing advertising agency.” Although its concept is sound, Weekend Party Fashion Show is unfortunately hampered by some pretty crippling translation issues.

As Lilly, your job is to dress a variety of women for parties, concerts, commercials and photo shoots. The game takes place in a mall, where you’ll have to complete hidden object challenges by rummaging through clothing and accessories in the different stores in order to find pieces to put your ensembles together based on a list. Items you might be asked to find include “dark yellow dress,” “gray embroidered blouse” or “green trendy sunglasses.”

You’ll also visit the jeweler, make-up stylist and hair stylist and play a different mini-game at each station. The jeweler is a memory game where you flip over tiles to match accessories; the make-up mini-game is a straightforward jigsaw puzzle of a woman’s face; and the hair salon is a spot the difference puzzle where you choose a hairstyle and have to compare two versions of the model’s head and cut pieces of her hair off until it matches your chosen coiffure.

The mini-games are fine, but it’s the hidden object portion of Weekend Party Fashion Show that suffers. There are simply too many inaccuracies with the way the items are labeled. For example, the “blue blouse with printed design” was actually a tank top. Other descriptions just made no sense, like “purple flexible belt” (don’t all belts have to be flexible?) or “youth gray glasses”; while others (like “big beautiful necklace” or “blue stunning brasier”) were just too vague and could refer to more than one item.

Then there were the typos: “purple & blue stripped blouse,” “dark blue shoe high-heels,” “red coctail shoes,” “women brown cardigan” and “dar lacy sexy top” to name a few.

At least the game isn’t without (unintentional) humor: I had a chuckle at having to find a “large green seductive bra.”

Once you’ve found all of the items on your list and played the mini-games, you enter the dress-up stage where you’re given a style (such as disco, banquet or retro) and must try to dress the model appropriately using the garments you’ve collected. Unlike Jojo’s Fashion Show, though, the game doesn’t give you any in-depth advice or fashion tips, and even the judging afterwards (where you’re awarded a star-rating) seemed arbitrary.

There are little quirks too, like the fact that the level timer ticks down even if you’re not in a scene and just reading characters’ speech bubbles; and you can’t review your level objectives after being given the information for the first time; or there’s no number to keep track of the overall number of items that you still have left to find.

Additional challenges – like a time management-style bartending mini-game – lack clear instructions. (It took me a while to figure out that you needed to click on the glass first or the drink would automatically be ruined.)

The game is short, too, and can be finished in a couple of hours. Afterwards, all the clothing is unlocked and you can play dress-up. There’s also a Freestyle mode where you can just dabble around in the mall, but the time limit still applies. It seems like this mode would have been better realized as an untimed mode to make it more different from the main mode.

If you're a fashion nut who enjoys playing around with different styles and looks, the dress-up mode at the end might hold some appeal. To sum up the game up, though, Weekend Party Fashion Show is unfortunately yet another example of a title that had potential but was not properly localized for its target audience.

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