That New York Ranger Sean Avery has a "huge thing" for female singer-songwriters is just the beginning. He also has a predilection for McQueen and can school even the most practiced party girl in how to pose on the red carpet so as to give the photographers the best angle. He is Carole King, Carine Roitfeld and the Brawny man rolled into one, and frankly, the fashion crowd digs it.
Ever since Amy Sacco took Avery and some of his teammates under her wing earlier this year, the players have become the new "It" boys on the social circuit. They've been hitting every party from the Costume Institute gala to fashion week bashes, and now their names are in the gossip columns nearly as often as they are in the sports pages.
At any affair, a couple of jocks stand out among the fashion flock like, well, a couple of jocks. But Avery knows his designers. Calvin Klein is a favorite, as are more forward collections like Ann Demeulemeester. "He does know and love fashion and has a really good eye," says pal Lauryn Flynn, director of celebrity relations at Calvin Klein.
As for his shopping habit, "it's completely overboard," Avery says. "I usually go at least every other day. I'll do Bergdorf's and Barneys one day a week, Madison Avenue one day a week and then Meatpacking. I've been doing a lot of damage at Alexander McQueen, but I heard the Balenciaga store is on 22nd and 10th. I've got to go in there."
Avery wasn't always like this. Having grown up in Toronto, the son of two teachers, the 27-year-old was bitten by the fashion bug only three or four years ago. "I just like seeing people with nice clothes on and dressed nicely," he says. And the good thing about fashion parties is that the women there are almost always dressed nicely — and appreciate seeing a hunky straight guy around (let's face it, the industry isn't exactly crawling with them). More than one editor has gone gaga over the Rangers crew.
But that is definitely not the way it works with Sacco, Avery's nightlife fairy godmother. "Amy kind of adopted the Rangers," he says. Avery and teammate Brendan Shanahan met Sacco at the Rose Bar one night, she brought them to Bungalow 8 and the rest is after-hours history."I have five brothers whom I miss," Sacco says, "so they're my band of brothers. They go with me everywhere. I must talk to them several times a day, from girl drama to restaurant reservations to what's happening tonight."
Of Sacco, Avery says, "She steers us in the right direction." Meaning into trouble or out of it? "Both, but our getting into trouble never really gets out anywhere [in the press], so that's her keeping us out of trouble."
Because, yes, these guys do have a day job. Avery, who plays left wing, admits that his late nights can make for some "tough, tough mornings," but insists it's not interfering with his work. "I get 12 hours of sleep the night before a game. That's the only rule I live by," says the athlete, who has made a name for himself by being aggressive on the ice, with scars on his face to prove it. During the 2006-2007 season, Avery ranked fifth in the league in penalty minutes (he served 174), and an NHL players' poll this year named him the most hated player. But now he's got four weeks off after having separated his shoulder during an Oct. 6 match.
Outside of the rink, Avery is a much gentler man — which is where the girly folk rock comes in. Joni Mitchell is a favorite, so much so that he bought a home in Laurel Canyon because he heard she lived there. Right now he's obsessed with British singer Kate Nash — "stunning, beautiful," he calls her.
Indeed it's clear that Avery is not all hockey, all the time; his next pursuit just may be the big screen. Acting is something "I could probably do," says the athlete, who recently dated starlet Elisha Cuthbert. "I don't think my emotional range would be very far. I can be some kind of character actor, the guy that would be sarcastic or angry or just very dry." Last summer he auditioned for the film "The Love Guru," with Justin Timberlake and Jessica Alba.
But for now, he's deflecting offers from talent agents because his priorities are set. "There's stuff I need to do first," he says, "like win the Stanley Cup in New York."
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