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THE BIGGER PICTURE: The Super Bowl isn’t the only American event conflicting with New York Fashion Week, as viewers at the Charles Nolan show reminded the fashion set with buttons supporting Barack Obama. Nolan’s partner, Democratic party big shot Andrew Tobias, brought in a bevy of his fellow faithful, including Peggy Kerry, sister of John. “We’re wearing the buttons because it’s two days before the primary, and it’s an important statement: There are Obama supporters in New York,” Kerry said. She and Lisa Gans, an international lawyer back in New York for a few months before returning to Afghanistan in March, both walked in Nolan’s show last year, and Gans gave her approval to the first lady-friendly collection. “Back in Afganistan, everything has to be long,” she said. “I was very excited to see outfits that I could take back with me and wear without being stoned.”
PULVERIZED: Rock & Republic’s runway show on Saturday night was billed as a two-act performance according to the program notes, but it was more like a three-ring circus. After being herded through the throngs in the Bryant Park tent’s lobby, bypassing a fist fight between two rival photographers, and almost tripping over an Associated Press reporter while trying to find his seat, photographer Mick Rock exclaimed, “This is worse than the Stones concert in ’72!” The chaos didn’t prevent the likes of Tyson Beckford, Russell Simmons and Jack Mackenroth from this season’s “Project Runway” from attending. Simmons said he also planned to make Tommy Hilfiger’s, his friend Sean Combs’ and, of course, Marc Jacobs. As for a recession, he was having none of it and pointed to the apparent high production value of Rock & Republic’s show as reason not to. “Recession, no one cares in the fashion business, do we?” said Simmons. “We shouldn’t. We should be inspired and keep producing what we’re doing till we go under.”
PICTURE THIS: Her mother, Jayne Mansfield, might have been an iconic pin-up, but Mariska Hargitay is camera-shy. While sitting front row at the Lela Rose show on Sunday morning, the actress brushed off a crowd of eager shutterbugs. “I find this part a bit unnerving,” Hargitay confessed. Eventually, though, the star took a cue from Jennifer Creel (who was seated next to her and was happy to oblige the snappers). “Well, if Jennifer does it, then I guess it’s OK,” the actress said before standing for a few photo-ops.
SCHOOL DAZE: At the Erin Fetherston show Friday evening, Anne Hathaway added some star wattage to an otherwise straightforward front row. And the actress handled the paparazzi flurry like a pro (after all, she was in “The Devil Wears Prada”). “OK, now we do this,” she said, gamely removing her coat and posing for the barrage of flashbulbs as boyfriend Rafael Follieri looked on. Despite the poise (and lots of practice as part of Valentino’s party posse last summer), the actress admitted she still wasn’t accustomed to all the attention. “There’s something about this that always transports me back to the seventh grade,” laughed Hathaway, who has met Fetherston a few times. “And it’s silly because there shouldn’t be any pressure. But it’s always like, ‘Are my hair and makeup right?'”
A few sections down, model Irina Lazareanu was taking a break from the catwalk — and suffering from a guilt complex. “I feel really lazy watching a show and not working in it,” she admitted.
ROCK ON: The writers’ strike has, as expected, freed up some TV stars’ time-and perhaps their inhibitions, too. Spotted at the Elise Overland presentation at Milk Studios Friday night was Taylor Momsen of “Gossip Girl,” sporting a new chopped ‘do. With her straight blond locks shorn to shoulder length, Momsen sported Overland’s gold leather strapless minidress and a black shag fur jacket, looking every inch the rock star as she rode the elevator up to the penthouse. What will her sweet schoolgirl TV alter ego Jenny do when shooting returns? “I may have to wear extensions,” shrugged Momsen. Look for her at the Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti presentation Tuesday evening where, word is, she’ll have ditched the rock ‘n’ roll edge.
A BLONDE, BRUNETTE AND A REDHEAD WALK INTO A SHOW: Julianne Moore and Maggie Gyllenhaal showed up in the front of Sari Gueron’s show Saturday night not so much for the designer, but for their stylist, Leslie Freemar, who styled the show. While Moore is a Gueron fan, Gyllenhaal said she’d never worn the designer before. Across the aisle, Melissa George wore a mini Sari Gueron navy dress with a long strand of pearls (she discovered the designer during her Vogue shoot). The actress on HBO’s “In Treatment” has been relaxing at her home in Argentina.
ALL SAINTS: Left Bank icon Sonia Rykiel threw a raucous party last Thursday evening to inaugurate her newly renovated flagship on the Boulevard Saint Germain. Leftist politicians (former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe) rubbed shoulders with screen legends Charlotte Rampling and Claudia Cardinale as Rykiel and her daughter Nathalie Rykiel treated the throng of well-wishers to a concert by Cocorosie, Champagne and chocolate cigarettes, which were handed out at the door to French actresses Lou Doillon, Julie Depardieu and Marie-Josée Croze. “She’s the quintessence of Saint Germain,” offered Rampling of Rykiel. “There’s not a lot left of that old aura today.” Added Cardinale, “Sonia’s an icon. What inimitable style!” Once the older set ducked out, Rykiel threw open a dance party that thumped well into the night.
Photo: Dominique Maitre, Steve Eichner and Pasha Antonov