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TABLOID TIME: The front row of the 2 B Free runway show at Los Angeles nightclub Boulevard3 Monday night looked like the pages of a tabloid come to life: Tara Reid incessantly rearranged her hair, Hayden Panettiere bounced in her seat to a booming 50 Cent song and Brandon Davis lighted a cigarette, prompting seatmate Elisha Cuthbert to throw up her hands in mock dismay. And, again, Paris Hilton, the rock-inspired label’s unofficial spokeswoman, strutted the runway in skintight leggings and short dresses.
British singer Robbie Williams, who was in the news last month after entering rehab, said he enjoyed the circus-like atmosphere. “I didn’t even know that this was a fashion show,” he said. “I just came with a mate. But I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of person, and I’m quite liking it.”
MEISTER LICENSEES: Los Angeles-based designer David Meister, whose company has been owned by Kellwood Co. since its inception in 1999, has just seen the demise of his sportswear collection, but he is looking to expand his licensee business. Outerwear is likely to be the first category with footwear to follow, he said. Over breakfast at Chateau Marmont on Tuesday, Meister, who is not showing at Los Angeles Fashion Week this time around, said he loves the second-floor shoe department at Bergdorf Goodman. “Every time I go to New York, I have to stop there. It’s a feeding frenzy; women and shoes are just so sociologically interesting.”
MY LEFT EYE: Organizers of the Cannes Film Festival are keeping a tight lid on details about its lineup, but one movie expected to debut there in May is already generating buzz in Paris. It’s Julian Schnabel‘s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” based on the acclaimed autobiography of the late Elle editor in chief, Jean-Dominique Bauby. Bauby suffered a stroke at age 43 that paralyzed his entire body save for his left eye, which he used to blink out his memoir. He died shortly after the book was published in 1997. Emmanuelle Seigner, Marina Hands, Emma de Caunes and Marie-Josée Croze are among the female stars of the film, with Mathieu Amalric in the lead role.
MADONNA AND GAULTIER: If you hit an Hennes & Mauritz outlet in Paris today to check out the arrival of the M by Madonna collection, don’t be surprised if you end up jockeying for merchandise with the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier. “I will go and have a look,” said the designer, who is responsible for many of the pop star’s costumes, including those for the recent “Confessions” tour. “Maybe I will buy something. I certainly will not ask her [Madonna] for a present,” he added, laughing. Gaultier confessed that he has high expectations for his friend’s debut collection. “She loves fashion, so she has something to say about it.”
FASHION BETTIES: Rebecca Romijn wasn’t the only “Ugly Betty” star preening from the fashion front row in Los Angeles. Becki Newton, who portrays Amanda, the backstabbing receptionist with a killer wardrobe on ABC’s hit comedy, got some fashion education at shows staged by Voom by Joy Han and Dina Bar-El on Sunday. Though last month she attended Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti’s presentation in New York, the petite blonde had never before seen a fashion show in Los Angeles. For her California christening, she donned Voom’s black short-sleeved trenchcoat, which was rather tame compared with the gray rubber dress she had three assistants help her squeeze into for a recent episode. Thanks to “Ugly Betty” costume designer Eduardo Castro, she said she’s been able to try new designers, including Voom, on the show. “Amanda is a pro,” Newton said. “Becki is still learning.”
GOLDWYN’S NEXT PAGE: After the success of her coffee table tome “Pretty Things,” an homage to burlesque dancers, Liz Goldwyn is back at the computer keyboard, penning a historical fiction novel. “That’s why you haven’t seen me for a while. I’ve been sort of undercover,” said Goldwyn, who came out Monday night dressed in a custom-made copper Sophia Kokosalaki dress to attend the Imitation of Christ show and the Zac Posen presentation and dinner in Los Angeles. “I’ve got so many pretty spring party dresses. I have to wear them somewhere,” she pointed out.
ART OF MAXMARA: MaxMara is accustomed to fashion plaudits. Now the Italian fashion house has garnered kudos in the art world. MaxMara and the Whitechapel Gallery scooped up the International Award at the British Council’s Arts & Business Awards ceremony at London’s Hayward Gallery. The award was for the MaxMara Art Prize for Women, which is curated by the director of the Whitechapel Gallery, Iwona Blazwick. “Our vision that the arts world needed to have a prize specific to women has been vindicated by this award,” said Luigi Maramotti, chairman of MaxMara. The MaxMara prize was launched last year to promote the work of emerging female artists based in the U.K. The inaugural award was won by the American-born video artist Margaret Salmon for her proposal of a trilogy of films about the first stages of motherhood. The films debuted at London’s Whitechapel Gallery last month and have been chosen to show at the Venice Biennale in June. The next MaxMara art prize will be awarded in 2009.
ART MEETS FASHION: Although Los Angeles Fashion Week was under way about 100 miles north, new projects from Southern California artists/designers were getting attention in Encinitas, Calif. At the reception for the Brave Art show at Vapor Studios last Thursday, Shepard Fairey and 20 other artists displayed works, including photographs and wildly decorated skateboards. London-born painter Freddi C said she is starting her own T-shirt line called Not Another, which will feature drawings by other artists as well as random people she meets. Her plan is to sell the Ts at her Los Angeles store, The Lab 101 Gallery, art shops and online. Ginger Che also has been designing one-of-a-kind clothes and jewelry based on her paintings. Currently selling the line at Let’s Go, JEP and her own boutique in La Jolla, Calif., Che said she is aiming to get her products into Fred Segal in Los Angeles. Graffiti artist Misk, who counts tech giant HP and Levi’s as past clients, started designing T-shirts for San Diego company Tribal. “As far as the graphics and fashion…It’s just another surface to hit and run,” Misk said.
ENRICHING OTHERS: Snow, sleet and treacherous conditions didn’t stop some 400 intrepid teenagers from attending a fund-raiser last Friday night at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York. The benefit was organized by a group of Manhattan teens, including Harry Sitomer, son of Ken Sitomer, former principal of Apparel Holdings Group, and Samantha Perelman, daughter of Revlon’s Ron Perelman. What happens when well-connected teens organize an event? They manage to drum up some pretty cool prizes, such as a Gucci handbag, Jessica Simpson‘s autographed boots, Rangers hockey tickets, a video iPod and tickets and a tour of the “Saturday Night Live” studio. The gala raised $121,500 to benefit the The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center.