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WHAT IS ‘IT,’ ANYWAY?

Tonight, director Robin Leacock celebrates “It Girls,” her new documentary, with a party in New York’s meatpacking district. But “It” is a touchy subject, as a handful of New Yorkers made clear:

Lauren duPont (accessories director, Ralph Lauren): “It’s not about that movie, that’s for sure — because it’s not something you should ever take seriously. What Sandra Bernhard said is the most true, which is that if you’re being called an It Girl, then you’re already washed up. I don’t believe in the concept, so I have nothing to say about it. I think it’s ridiculous. If you care that much, there’s something wrong.”

Rena Sindi (socialite): “It’s not about being of-the -moment and wearing the latest Dolce, because pretty much anyone can look good if they dedicate the time and money to getting there. What’s really hard is the balance between going out and looking great and having some genuine substance, some edge, some fire. Brooke de Ocampo has it — not because she’s so photographed, but because her energy is just so attractive to people. People define ‘It’ as who is out there at a given time, but the problem with that is that it becomes by definition fleeting, and who wants that? I’d rather make a lasting impression.”

Liz Cohen (publicist): “An It Girl is anyone who’s completely not in that documentary. Lulu de Kwiatkowski’s an It Girl because she’s cool, she’s confident, she’s a good person — and she comes from money. She’s not out there promoting herself like so many other girls. Jill Kopelman’s an It Girl because she’s a high-fashion, high-intellect babe.”

Candace Bushnell (writer): “It’s always good to have a job, but unfortunately for some people, being an It Girl is their job. Still, if that’s your only job, it usually ends up being a short-lived one, like the life span of a model. If you’re going out all the time, the most difficult thing is dealing with the hangovers.”

Simon Doonan (creative director, Barneys): “It’s a rough ride, being an It Girl. If your prominence increases, people just wait for your knickers to fall down. I think people feel better about Gwyneth [Paltrow] now that she wore a hideous dress to the Oscars, because everyone was sick of her being held up as a paragon of style. No one loves a paragon of anything.”

Susan Fales-Hill (writer): “A real It Girl is someone who’s aware of the zeitgeist in a way that’s outward-looking, not just in terms of fashion and within the confines of her own social circle. It can be any young woman who’s contributing in some way to her time — philanthropically, intellectually. Amy Fine-Collins is an It Girl because she’s so incredibly intelligent and also has such an extraordinary sense of style. Marina Rust represents a kind of elegance that’s disappearing in our world. I think Halle Berry is the ultimate It Girl, because she represents the wave of the future: She’s taken what generations of black divas have accomplished and is taking it to the next step. That historical component is key.”

Josh Patner (designer, Tuleh): “To me, the It Girl is the one who everybody knows is having the best time in the room, every time. She’s the girl you look to to find out how much fun you could be having.”

Tiffany Dubin (vintage guru): “An It Girl can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.”

Lillian Wang von Stauffenberg (baroness, fashion muse): “It’s a pathetic idea. The problem is that ‘It’ suggests that you don’t do anything with your life other than trying to be an It Girl. I tend to think of an It Girl as someone with nothing between her ears. Friends of mine have been called It Girls, and I frankly think it degrades them. Aerin Lauder is, for the most part, a very normal girl. They become It Girls because of a certain superficial attractiveness, but no one wants to look further than that.”

Jessica Craig-Martin (photographer): “For the most part, they’re women who do nothing. It’s kind of sad — it’s like being a pinned butterfly, like being the most popular girl in high school: Everything’s downhill from there. The women who are celebrated publicly still look like they’re waiting to be plucked off the tree by the right man. It’s so old-fashioned and archaic. Photographically, though, I love these people. Where would I be without Paris Hilton?”

Paris Hilton (starlet): “I want nothing to do with this movie. Three years ago, I was at a party and Casey Johnson brought me over to the crew and they started filming me, but I’m angry because I didn’t want to be in it. I didn’t sign a release, and it sounds kind of cheesy to me. It’s cheesy for people to be called socialites and live off their family names. The director said I’m in it for like three seconds, but I don’t want to be in it at all.”

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