MAKE IT, DON’T FAKE IT: Think you’re not hurting anyone with that $7 “Kate Spade” handbag you picked up in Chinatown? Harper’s Bazaar hopes you’ll reconsider. The Hearst-owned fashion title is throwing its weight behind a campaign against counterfeiting. January’s issue will contain a special editorial section examining the evils of knockoffs. Then, on Feb. 1, Bazaar, the New York City Police Foundation and the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition will host a summit on the subject at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York. Contrary to the widespread view of counterfeiting as an essentially victimless crime, it’s a business that relies heavily on child labor and helps fund drug cartels and terrorist groups, said Bazaar publisher Valerie Salembier. “If people who bought a Gucci or Vuitton handbag on the street — if they knew where that money was going, I think it would change people’s minds.”
— Jeff Bercovici
INSTITUTIONAL FOOD: Forget Bugsy Siegel, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal or Steve Wynn. Sirio Maccioni is apparently the latest unofficial mayor of Sin City. “If you want to know who made Las Vegas possible,” restaurant consultant Clark Wolf told the “Art of Hospitality” panel at Gourmet magazine’s second annual Gourmet Institute on Sunday, “Sirio told the rest of the world it’s OK to serve good food in Las Vegas.” Wolf was, of course, referring to the many celebrity chefs opening restaurants on the Strip, including the latest round: Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay and Mario Batali.
Maccioni, meanwhile, sounded like the anti-Frank Rosenthal when he made light of his skirmishes with labor unions in New York. “People should be protected by law and people they work with, not by goons,” said Maccioni, who plans to close Le Cirque on Madison Avenue at the end of the year and reopen at an undisclosed location downtown in June. “If you’re downtown and you can freewheel, you don’t have to deal with the unions,” he explained.
Discussing current trends in restaurant culture, Drew Nieporent of the Myriad Restaurant Group said, “There’s a political situation now. It’s no longer in vogue to be a French restaurant,” which seemed to suit Julian Niccolini of the Four Seasons just fine. “The so called ‘French Mafia,’” said Niccolini, “they wished the Four Seasons to be out of business 25 years ago.” Now even the French are tired of French cooking, according to Maccioni, who hinted at opening an outpost of his Italian Circo at the Paris Ritz next year. “They told me, ‘We want a chef that doesn’t speak French so it takes longer for him to be contaminated,’” said Maccioni.
So if French cuisine is out, what’s in? “Anything Asian,” said Nieporent, who unveils a new two-story Nobu at 40 West 57th Street in June.
— Sara James
THE WU CHANG CLAN: Typical pearls of wisdom from Thursday’s Me magazine launch party: “I’m a musician and a singer,” an Asian woman in a white poncho said. “Actually, I work at a law firm. But it’s not what I really want to do.” Co-founders Angel Chang and Claudia Wu hosted the gathering at the old Mudd Club space to toast the first issue of the “Friendster-esque” Me, a magazine predicated on the idea that artsy hipsters and their circles of friends will be interesting to more than just…artsy hipsters and their circles of friends. So far, Wu is heartened by the feedback. “The reaction has been a lot better than I expected,” said Wu, “for such a personal project…Nom de Guerre sold out,” she added of the downtown boutique. The next issue of Me comes out on Dec. 1 and features United Bamboo designer Miho Aoki on the cover and all her friends and tenuous acquaintances inside.