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Fashion Week started with a promotional bang, the press getting a mailed advisory demanding that we refer to it at all times as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Well, I’m a hasty reader, so I kept calling it Mercedes Ruehl Fashion Week, but whatever it was — Benzedrine Fashion Week? — it seemed to be filled with the usual beauties, fabulosities, and nightmares going gaga over the season’s new hemlines and buffets, then quickly regurgitating both into a gilded bucket.

Partywise, it was all about exclusivity, with gaggles of fashionistas flocking to APT, a/k/a The Apartment, a two-level hangout with no name on the door — you have to be tragically hip and connected to even know it’s there. (This will be topped by Amy Sacco’s Bungalow 8, which you’ll need a key to get into private parts of; I’ll probably get one, but not know where the door is.) The Oxygene perfume launch at Tribeca Rooftop was findable, but mainly by thick-skinned celebs like Jason Sehorn, who bravely showed up despite the Super Bowl, and Donny Osmond, who insanely attended despite Inside the Osmonds.

The CFDA kickoff bash at MOMA brought out Girlfight‘s Michelle Rodriguez, and she got other offers too; photographer Patrick McMullan begged her to go to Studio 54 later for a Wilhelmina male model party, insisting there’d be lots of guys. “Yeah,” Rodriguez said, smirking, “and they’ll all be gay!” Just then, saucy sisters Paris and Nikki Hilton entered in appealingly gaudy, different-yet-matching outfits and all the gays took notice. The gals looked a bit vulnerable — they involuntarily rule every place they’re at, yet they’re always the element that seems a little out of place — so I pounced, asking them what exactly it is that they do. “We work, hon,” said Nikki, meaning the runway. “I thought you were socialites,” I gurgled, adding that whatever they do, I can’t seem to stop reading about them. “We hate being famous,” moaned Paris, her lips shimmering with rage — and gloss. “We don’t like reading about ourselves. It sucks. People are mean.” It was a poignant moment and I totally believed her, even as the girls were cajoled into a 10-minute photo op!

But we were the victims outside the Visionaire magazine party at FIT, where one of those unbelievably sadistic prison-guards-turned-doormen screamed ultimatums at the assembled throng — people are mean — forgetting that my giant fashiony ass likes to end the night with a lip, not whip, imprint. But everyone screamed with joy when Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson’s sprawling new restaurant, The Park, had a bash celebrating Jalouse magazine — well, almost everyone. “Shit, we have to be nice to Eric Goode again,” one longtime nightlifer whined, noticing that the place is a big hit. (I’ve always been nice to him and practically pay his rent with an endless succession of blue plate specials at B-Bar.) It was especially thrilling to see Monica Lewinsky there, though she now seems to decorate all the same B-list parties I’m at and will no doubt touchingly — and feelingly — reunite with Bill Clinton when he hits the very same circuit.

The screams were internalized at a weird MAC party at Tuscan Steak where no one actually partied — they all stood solemnly in place staring at the spectacle of Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim being photographed against a MAC backdrop for hours. Someone must have put something in the mascara.

And then, after a few more shows, a dozen more nightmares, Anthony Haden-Guest lighting up like a Christmas tree when I gave him a drink ticket at Eugene, and Puffy admitting he kills animals but not people, Mercedes McCambridge Fashion Week came to a glittering end, and it was back to cleaning toilets.

Of course the disses kept coming, but in a more high-cultural context. At BAM’s spring gala, I kept hearing the very flattering cry “What are you doing here?” — the idiots not seeming to realize that the opera came with dinner. Besides, the stunning work in question was The Makropulos Case, a stylized romp about a 337-year-old woman who can’t go on one more second. It’s the Geri Halliwell story!

These Old Broads, that TV movie about four 337-year-old women, was a strained salad of overripe tomatoes, but there were a few bitchy, desperate laughs, and Liz Taylor was too much, planted on a sofa and bellowing “Nympho?” (PS: Did you catch the commercial for the Judy Garland teleflick, asking, “Are you a friend of Dorothy?” At least they know their target audience.)

Unveiled at a gala premiere, HBO’s version of Wit is filled with brave work, but the camera’s literal gaze tends to flatten everything out, the way it did with adapted plays like Bent, M. Butterfly, Dancing at Lughnasa, and even Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Wit, the play, was about ideas, but Wit, the movie, is about a woman dying of ovarian cancer.

Full of female genital life, The Vagina Monologues nabbed its ultimate production with the V-Day 2001 event at the Bush, I mean the Garden, where a bevy of stars created a veritable Vulva Fashion Week. “How many vaginas are there in the audience?” asked author Eve Ensler by way of an intro, and it turned out there were tons, all cheering on the evening’s winky, bawdy humor and heavy preaching, cosponsored by Tampax despite the monologue decrying those godforsaken cotton balls. Oprah Winfrey was a bit much, swathed in a red chiffon body scarf as she tried to invoke the suffering of Afghani women, but generally V-Day was such a cunt-agious cliterary event I left convinced I have to get me one of them there vaginas.

In other good news about girl talk, Times diva Ilene Rosenzweig and designer Cynthia Rowley have sold their Swell book to Imagine Entertainment for sitcom treatment. “We envision it as Laverne & Shirley, but with better clothes,” Rowley told me last week, “with a touch of Playboy After Dark and That Girl. Or These Girls.” Or These Young Broads? And here’s some gossip for the guys: That very out (of his mind) gay, Elton John, might not realize that his new best friend, Eminem, sings a song mocking the death of his last best friend, designer Gianni Versace. Hey, Elton — can you feel the shame tonight? Nymphos!

Finally, I’m out and proud about my Oscar nomination predictions, having been 80 percent right, but I totally fucked up on Chocolat, a sunny but not exactly transcendent movie that had all the columnists beating the tom-toms for Miramax in what I’d considered misguided zealotry. In fact, I’d prepared a pointed little screed about how the shilling for this flick was absolutely shameless, but then it impressively nabbed a Best Picture nomination and four other nods! Did this triumph of the will happen partly because the columnists went to bat so dutifully for the movie, or were the scribes simply reflecting the fact that Chocolat is truly an Oscar-caliber piece of work? We’ll never know, but the next time I ask for a raise, I definitely want Harvey Weinstein to mount the campaign — and, naturally, Mercedes-Benz to sponsor it.

Web Bonus Item: Who is that unidentified person who’s claimed to the press that he’s Tom Cruise’s close confidante? I know for a fact he’s a singer/wrestler/porn star named Kyle. Frisky Business!

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 20, 2001

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