THE DEVIL WEARS CHINOS: The fashion world is all about glamour. It’s all about sex. One thing it’s apparently not all about? Confidentiality clauses.

The latest fashion world roman á clef being shopped to publishers is “Garmento,” a modern day update of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” written by ex-Mickey Drexler underling Meg Castaldo that features a thinly veiled version of her former boss and the company he formerly ran.

This story first appeared in the July 25, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The proposal was sent out to the usual suspects this week.

In the novel, Austen’s heroine Ann Eliot has been updated as Ann Marie, a young woman hired as a copywriter at Blue, a middle market fashion retailer that has fallen on hard times, much like the Gap did in 2001 and 2002. While there, she winds up doing damage control with the press, scrambling to spin bad stories about everything from cultlike motivational meetings at the company to an internal revolt that arises from human rights violations in overseas factories.

Who knew mass-market retailers could be accused of such things?

And like most Austen novels, the heroine falls in love and has to make a choice, this time between two suitors within the company.

The book will be Castaldo’s second. Her first was 2001’s “The Foreigner,” published by MTV/Pocket Books. — Jacob Bernstein

THE NUMBERS GAME: Number of people at US Weekly who have received calls from Bonnie Fuller’s new employer, American Media, and their headhunters, according to Wenner executives: 41.

Average number of times each of the 41 people were said to have been called: 3.6

Number of job categories on for The Star: 4 — reporters in New York and Los Angeles, writers, designers, and editors.

Number of editors at Wenner offered the top gig at The Star: 1. Janice Min.

Amount of money she was allegedly offered:$1 million a year.

Number of editors in chief at Wenner who have been called by AMI headhunters since Fuller’s defection: 2. The second was Bob Wallace, the editor of Men’s Journal.

Number of staffers who have left Us Weekly for The Star, to date: 4. Fashion director Kelli Delaney, photo editor Darren Walsh, Bonnie Fuller’s assistant Jared Shapiro, and staff writer Samantha Youngman.

Comments from AMI: 0.

— J. B.

N.Y. POST PARTUM: The upheaval continues at the New York Post’s business desk. Technology reporter Lauren Barack is the latest woman on business editor Jon Elsen’s watch to leave the paper just for the sake of leaving. Barack declined comment on her departure, saying only that she wanted to go back to freelancing, but her coworkers apparently have picked up on the bad vibes emanating from the section.

“The Post is actually a pretty happy place,” said one Post source. “[Editor in chief] Col Allan can be difficult, but everyone respects him. The thing that makes people sad is that the business section is not a happy place to work.”

The reason, said several sources inside the Post and out, is the feeling that Elsen is running a boys’ club built around media columnist Keith Kelly and big media reporter Tim Arango in particular. Besides Barack, the list of the recently departed includes Wall Street reporter Jessica Sommar, who was fired in February; Beth Piskora, who left voluntarily shortly after for Standard & Poor’s, and retail reporter Lisa Marsh, who resigned when she didn’t receive a leave for the book she’s writing about Calvin Klein.

One source said it was Elsen’s affinity for media stories (and not much else) that made him unappreciative of reporters on other beats. “The thing he knows best is media, and he’s involved with those stories to the point where he adds things to them and even calls [his] sources. That doesn’t happen on any other beat.”

Elsen’s response: “That’s nonsense.” He also dismissed the notion that he’s running a boys’ club, and pointed out that in the cases where women left, he replaced them with other women (Jenny Anderson on Wall Street and Suzanne Kapner on retail, for example) and that his current staff, including the editors, is about 50-50. Besides, he said, “Our department is a lot better now than it was before.”

— Greg Lindsay

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