ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS

A few words of advice to VH1 for its next Fashion and Music Awards: Get a new host and some movie stars (Eric Stoltz doesn’t quite cut it), fire the writers, and, never — ever — forget that most supermodels should be seen, not heard.
Even with a roster that included Karl Lagerfeld, the former Prince, Kate Moss, Jean Paul Gaultier, Elton John, Gianni Versace, Miuccia Prada, Claudia Schiffer and Madonna, the televised awards show was remarkably unremarkable. It may just be that it was VH1’s first time out, but the music-and-fashion connection, which the cable channel has been hyping incessantly, didn’t play particularly well on the stage constructed at the old 69th Regiment Armory on New York’s lower Lexington Avenue; a steady exodus of VIPs from both worlds began as early as the first commercial break.
“Wings” star Steven Weber failed to fly as the evening’s emcee — live, the sitcom actor was stiffer than Al Gore. VH1’s on-air fashion correspondent Jeanne Beker was also way out of her depth. In her apparent nervousness, she managed to stumble through her interview segments offering inane questions and even insulting a Calvin Klein-clad Mariel Hemingway — calling her a fashion victim. Perhaps a comedian like Rosie O’Donnell, much quicker on her feet, would have been a better choice.
Meanwhile, Lagerfeld was snubbed by Madonna, who failed to acknowledge him or his co-presenter, Claudia Schiffer, as she accepted her award for Most Fashionable Artist from them and Sean Penn. She was either flustered by the surprise appearance of her ex, or just plain rude. She did, however, manage to make three costume changes: two Gucci outfits and a chartreuse Prada pantsuit.
“I don’t understand it,” Lagerfeld said later.
While the pre-show interviews by A.J. Hammer were witty and entertaining and performances by formerly Prince, k.d. lang and The Pretenders were exciting, the rest of Sunday night’s telecast lacked one major element: a sense of humor. Nonetheless, the show offered a combination that fashion designers find irresistible — rock stars, hundreds of paparazzi and millions of viewers.
The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde had the right attitude, though, mocking the notion of musicians as fashion arbiters. An irreverent rock ‘n’ roll pixie in a Vivienne Westwood miniskirt, thigh-high boots, Harley-Davidson T-shirt, and a red loofah sponge doubling as a hat, Hynde crashed k.d. lang’s backstage session with the press.
“You’re asking her about fashion?” Hynde teased. “This is going to be good,” she said, and then proceeded to sit among reporters and grill lang about her fashion perspective and the “Homo” patch she’d had sewn onto her jacket.
The evening did produce one new trend. Both Jerry Hall and Madonna have developed British accents. Now that’s fashion!

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