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FIRST LOOK: Most fashion brands must hire models for their look books, but not Band of Outsiders’ Scott Sternberg.

The designer simply calls upon his ever-growing group of celebrity fans, who pose for free in atmospheric snapshots that he takes himself with a Seventies-era Polaroid camera.

This story first appeared in the August 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

This season, Sternberg tapped Michelle Williams, who follows in the footsteps of prior actors-turned-models Jason Schwartzman, John Dewis and Matt Dallas, and musician Bobby Birdman. “Michelle is a ‘Boy’ girl, for sure,” joked Sternberg, who shot the actress on Thursday in Los Angeles modeling his Boy by Band of Outsiders line.

“It’s a very informal thing,” he explained, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. “It’s just us goofing off and having fun. There isn’t hair and makeup, there are no lights or anything. We were just laughing and talking all day. They are not supposed to be self-important and serious [shots]. It’s the antithesis of all that.”

In keeping with that approach, Sternberg shot a mere seven looks, only two of which were in the original fall runway show. “We want to show how someone might actually wear the clothes,” he said. “It’s less of a stylized thing,” though his regular stylist, Tina Chai, was on hand to help with the three-and-a-half-hour session at interior designer Paul Fortune’s Laurel Canyon house.

“It’s basically Michelle snooping in a stranger’s house, that’s the narrative,” he explained of the photos, which show her peeking at Fortune’s belongings.

The pair, who met last year at a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund event at Anna Wintour’s house, initially had a completely different idea — to shoot outdoors along the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, portraying Williams as a young actress looking for her first Hollywood apartment. But that concept got nixed due to the starlet’s current tabloid fame. “I realized she is a paparazzi target,” said the designer.

And likewise, come fall, Sternberg won’t be doing the usual catwalk affair, instead opting to shoot a film with two or three celebrity friends. “I’m doing a totally alternative thing because I can’t bring myself to do a runway show,” he said. “I don’t make runway clothes. These are clothes you wear on the street, so I’m just super-uncomfortable with it. It puts it in totally the wrong context — I want to do something closer to where the clothes are, and let people actually touch and feel them as opposed to seeing them on a 14-year-old anorexic model.”

And for any fans who can’t wait that long for a fix, Sternberg will be opening a shop-in-shop on Aug. 15 in the Los Angeles branch of Opening Ceremony.

— Elisa Lipsky-Karasz

THE BLENDING BEGINS: Anyone worried Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of The Wall Street Journal would be the tabloidization of the paper could have seen their fears dramatized on the steps of a Centre Street courthouse in Manhattan recently: a handful of Journal editors and reporters crowded outside the courthouse, clutching cameras and clamoring around glamorous figures.

But this was no aping of say — The New York Post or Fox News — it was a photo shoot by Michel Comte for WSJ., the glossy magazine being launched in September, which had recruited Journal staff to be extras in the shoot. For a newspaper staff more accustomed to stipple portraits than high-gloss chic, it was an apt reach across the aisle. (A spokeswoman for the Journal declined to discuss the shoot, except to confirm WSJ. had worked with Comte.) One person on the shoot said a non-Journal extra had brought a copy of The New York Times as a prop, but for a shot where newspapers were thrown into the frame, a copy of the Journal Weekend Edition was hastily switched in.

— Irin Carmon

POSH NIGHT: Linda Wells hosted a dinner Thursday night at the Thompson Beverly Hills to fete Allure’s August cover girl, Victoria Beckham, who, like so many overly adorned pop stars before her, received an image makeover in the issue’s pages. “I’m always surprised when anyone wants me to be on their cover, but it’s really flattering and fun,” said a Marc Jacobs-clad Beckham. “I always show up to a shoot in jeans, a sweatshirt and a ponytail and say, ‘What do you want to do with me?’” Beckham guessed that part of her appeal lies in the fact that she’s not afraid to change her image. “I think it shows I don’t take myself too seriously, and I’m not afraid to push the envelope,” she said. The 50-person dinner, which included Beckham’s husband, mother, father and sister, was also star-studded with the likes of Quincy and Kidada Jones, Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria and Tony Parker, Kate Beckinsale and Lindsay Lohan. Wells said Allure’s September cover, featuring Carrie Underwood, would also offer a new take on the country crooner. “She looks very much like Ursula Andress with the hair and dramatic eye makeup.”

— Marcy Medina

POLO WARS: After streakers hijacked the England versus Australia match at last week’s Cartier International Polo, now another controversial figure is whipping up a storm around the event. Katie Price, a British glamour model, wrote a stinging attack on the organizers of the annual fixture in the op-ed column of the London Times on Friday, for allegedly excluding her from the jamboree. Price said her manager was told, “I was not the sort of person they wanted.”

While she began her career posing for lad mags and English tabloids, Price is also a keen horsewoman, and has gone on to launch a lingerie line, a fragrance — called Stunning — and a series of children’s books about horse riding. “It’s pure snobbery. However good a horsewoman I may be, I’m also a glamour model. That embarrassed the organizers,” she wrote, citing Eliza Doolittle and Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” as examples of hard-up women granted admission to society events.

While Price alleged she paid for a table in a marquee hosted by the London club Chinawhite and was then later told she couldn’t attend, Cartier played down the controversy. The company said in a statement the event was simply oversubscribed.

“Tickets to the highly popular Chinawhite marquee have to be purchased in advance and this year [they] sold out a week before the event,” the company said.

— Louise Bartlett

TOUGH TIMES IN D.C.: The Washington Post Co. released its second-quarter results Friday and at this point in the earnings season, it will come as no surprise that ad revenue was down sharply at The Washington Post and Newsweek. Print ad revenue at the Post dropped 22 percent to $99.8 million, primarily because of a large decline in classified ad revenue and reductions in retail and general ads. Magazine ad revenue declined 21 percent from fewer ad pages at the domestic edition and lower rates from a rate base reduction to 2.6 million from 3.1 million.

Overall newspaper publishing revenue was down 13 percent to $197.3 million and the company noted that 231 newspaper employees have accepted the voluntary retirement program, at an expense of $79.8 million. Due to the early retirement expense, the division reported an operating loss of $96.7 million during the second quarter, versus operating income of $17.8 million the prior year. Meanwhile, revenue at the magazine division dropped 15 percent to $62.7 million. Approximately 117 employees there accepted the early retirement offer, which came at an expense of $29.2 million. The magazine division also had an operating loss, of $3.7 million.

The company reported a net loss of $2.7 million for the quarter, compared with net income of $68.8 million for the same period last year. Thanks to revenue growth at the education and cable TV divisions, though, revenue for the company was up 6 percent to $1.1 billion.

— Amy Wicks

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