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HEAVY LUNCH: The rain and blustery weather didn’t stop an Oscar-worthy pool of stars from coming out in Los Angeles on Friday to support V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women. Hosted by feminist playwright Eve Ensler and Glamour, the luncheon at the Four Seasons hotel was full of celebrities like Anne Hathaway, Anne Archer, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Camryn Manheim, Jessica Alba, Maria Bello, Rosario Dawson, Hollywood heavyweights Sherry Lansing and Pamela Wagner and an even more head-turning surprise guest: California First Lady Maria Shriver. The annual luncheon spotlights a particular issue of violence against women; this year’s focus was rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the event honored Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the U.N. Human Rights Prize for his work to heal the women of Congo. The subject matter kept most attendees from touching their meals. “People were just pushing food around on their plates; this is so heavy but so important,” Hathaway said. “I’m actually stepping outside to get a drink.” Theron was introduced to Ensler through the U.N., and said she was planning an education and outreach trip through Africa at the end of March. But the star power wasn’t the weightiest thing in the room. “I assume you guys are digesting a lot more than the meal,” Dawson said to guests after Mukwege spoke. — Anne Riley-Katz
POSITIVE THINKING: Despite the economic dark cloud looming over New York Fashion Week, Vanity Fair fashion and style director Michael Roberts and Roberto Cavalli remained optimists at the Friday book signing for “Fighters and Flowers,” a photo book shot by Roberts of Brazilian martial artists wearing looks by Cavalli. In between signing books for guests including Eva Chow, Padma Lakshmi, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza and In Style managing editor Ariel Foxman, Cavalli said business at his nightclub in Florence is OK (a club in Dubai is due to open but does not have a confirmed date), and hoped people would seek out adult playtime to help ease concerns over the economy. “[The world is in] a little bit of a crisis,” said Cavalli. “I feel that when you have such a moment, the best medicine for crisis is to have fun.” Meanwhile, Roberts reflected on fashion’s resilience in times of recession, pointing to designers Alexander McQueen and John Galliano who flourished during Britain’s financial woes in the Eighties and early Nineties. “I’ve been through so many recessions,” the British editor said. “In a funny way recessions are a new thing in this country. There’s always been a bounty of prosperity and good times, and so it’s kind of a bit of a shock here when this happens. However, England has survived for years and years and years as a victim of a recession. Recessions bring out the best in people, bring out the spirit of competition against the odds. And out of recessions come great things.” — Stephanie D. Smith
This story first appeared in the February 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
MAKING A COMEBACK: In its ongoing effort to become more of a fashion authority in men’s wear, Saks Fifth Avenue will reissue stand-alone men’s catalogues this spring. After a hiatus of several years, the upscale store will offer both a classic book and a contemporary mailer, the latter of which will be centered around the store’s latest Want It campaign of the season’s trends. “This is keeping with the initiative to continue growing men’s wear at Saks,” said Tom Ott, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s.
The 64-page classic catalogue offers 12 pages of a style guide where the store asks men to answer a few questions about their lives and then makes recommendations on what they should wear. To help him when he does come into the store, Ott said Saks will display “talking signs,” which tout the benefits of a particular trend, such as slimmer dress shirts or suits. The contemporary Want It mailer centers around the work of street artist-turned-Barack Obama-portraitist Shepard Fairey, whose images will be used in all Saks stores as well as on shopping bags and in an online video.
The men’s catalogues also mark the debut of Eric Jennings, who joined the store as men’s fashion director last August. Jennings worked to take the trends outlined in the contemporary book and translate them into the classic catalogue, as well. Both catalogues will be mailed in the first week of March. The Want It book has a circulation of 300,000 while the classic book will land in about 75,000 homes. — Jean E. Palmieri
READING TEENAGERS: The rise of social media has laden media professionals with extra anxiety: Just what happens to an editor or a seasoned reporter — not to mention journalistic standards — when information is increasingly being transmitted by person to person through Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else is around the corner? Nowhere is the social media rubric more relevant than with teenage girls, whose changing habits have led to the recent dissolution of several magazines aimed at them.
With her collaborations with teenage girls over the past few years, editorial consultant Amy Goldwasser is taking a stab at a working theory. Goldwasser, whose current gig is freelance editing at Elle, conceived of a platform for teenage girls’ writing, edited as one would a professional’s story. The first permutation was quite traditional: “RED: Teenage Girls in America Write on What Fires Up Their Lives Today,” published in 2007 and recently out in paperback. Hundreds of submissions were whittled down to 58 and then edited by Goldwasser, launching a national tour of readings, social networking and blogs, an upcoming theater adaptation in Los Angeles, and most recently an online trendspotting newsletter.
Though more than one marketer would likely jump at the possibility of effectively targeting this demographic, for now the newsletter is editorially oriented. It comprises entertainment and shopping recommendations produced by the girls who wrote for the book, edited by Goldwasser. Through the end of this month, it will be sent out to subscribers of I Heart Daily, a free e-mail newsletter founded by former ElleGirl editors Anne Ichikawa and Melissa Walker, and then it is expected to take on a life of its own, with its own distribution and a broader contributor base.
Goldwasser hopes to one day use this combination of user-generated and edited model for a print magazine, which she believes will add “both a much-needed element of curation to the Internet DIY culture and introducing the prize of publication — forever, in a beautiful print mag, for all your friends to see.” In the meantime, it’s for all of your friends to fwd. — Irin Carmon