Liz Smith: Fashion — Who Has It? (And Do We Care?)

Model-of-the-moment Nyasha Matonhodze

And more from our Liz: Advice to men — don’t smile? … Le Cirque and Literacy Partners celebrates Erica Jong’s delicious “sugar”… Peter Fonda and Cokie Roberts — do they think before they talk?

“FASHION IS what you adopt when you don’t know who you are,” said Quentin Crisp.

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FASHION NOTES from the Unfashionable! Do you know who Nyasha Matonhodze is?

I didn’t. It seems she is the 16-year-old model from Zimbabwe who is now the face of Louis Vuitton worldwide, booked by creative director Marc Jacobs.

She says, “My eyes filled with tears as I thought, ‘Lord, I am so lucky!’” when she found herself starring on the fashion week runway in Paris with such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

You can’t miss her as Nyasha has already been photographed for Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue.

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I DON’T know about you but I agree with London columnist Allison Pearson who advised fashionistas to “Lay off Michelle Obama.” This was after the Obamas were in London visiting the Queen and other royals and somebody decided that in a contest between our First Lady and the newly-wed Princess Catherine, some Brits pronounced that the recent bride had it all over Mrs. Obama when it comes to looking good and dressing well.

Miss Pearson writes: “How dare the fashionistas reprimand such an incredible woman for choosing the wrong length of bolero? Remind me, what exactly has fashion journalism done to equal the achievements of Michelle Obama? Why should she be measured by their shallow, narcissistic criteria? It’s what’s inside the frock that counts … it’s no surprise that the rise of nitpicking commentary about female appearance has coincided with a falling back of women from the top table of power.”

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THE big no-no at the Cannes Film Festival fashion-wise was that bouncers at the Palais denied entry to women dressed in androgynous evening wear – like tuxedos and silk trousers. The red carpet there was all for display and feminine frou-frou.

Again, how dare these bouncers and their bosses tell people how to dress? Yves St. Laurent and Chanel must have been flipping in their graves. St. Laurent once said, “For a woman ‘Le Smoking’ is an indispensable garment which she finds herself continually in fashion, because it is about style, not fashion. Fashions come and go, but style is forever.”

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TOUGH STUFF works! A team of psychologists at the University of British Columbia asked 1000 adults to rate the sexual attractiveness of hundreds of photos of members of the opposite sex, smiling, proud, or moody and scowling. The result? They found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud, powerful or moody.

The would-be shrinks found that men were most sexually attracted to women who looked happy, and least attracted to the proud and confident woman.

For women, men smiling was linked to lack of dominance. So moody men are the ticket!

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WHEN LAST I checked, there were a few seats left for Erica Jong’s book luncheon honoring Literacy Partners on June 1. She’ll be there at the glamorous Le Cirque with a clutch of writers who have contributed to the collection, “Sugar In My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex.” This coming book won an uncompromising rave from Kirkus Reviews.

The title under which many of us wrote for Erica’s original idea was “The Best Sex I Ever Had.”

It was a long time ago, but memory did not fail me and, just think, I wasn’t one of the most “distinguished” who contributed to this surefire bestseller. Erica Jong, still the queen of “The Zipless You-Know-What” keeps on keeping on in her quest to delineate the world’s oldest obsession.

The last such lunch benefiting Literacy was about beauty, facelifts, Botox. This one will be about S-E-X. Be there or be square if there’s a ticket left. The talented Patrick McMullen will be on hand taking photos for posterity. Call 646 –237-0105.

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HOLLYWOOD is fuming about having to consider

the controversial Lars Von Trier as a true Oscar contender with his film “Melancholia.” The reason they are nervous? The director’s silly comments on Adolf Hitler.

But did Hollywood care about what hometown boy Peter Fonda said? “I’m training my grandchildren to use long-range rifles. For what purpose? Well, I’m not going to say the words ‘Barack Obama’, but….”

This is a film star, once respected, who is talking about assassinating a sitting President!

Speaking of that, a few Sundays ago Cokie Roberts appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” During the talk of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s behavior, she suggested she would kill her husband should he ever be unfaithful to her.

In my book, this remark is beneath a Washington journalist who is supposed to be cultured and humane. She might well never forgive him but to suggest she would eradicate him from life. Don’t people even watch what they are saying these days and how it affects the discourse?

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QUESTION for one of this column’s favorites, Debbie Harry, one of the queens of the Seventies and Eighties. Is she sorry that she did not have children?

Ms. Harry: “Sometimes. I guess it never struck me as being part of survival and for many people it is.”

Question: Do you have any problem with aging?

Ms. Harry: “Oh yes, sure. It’s hard. Regardless of what I say about trying to be better at what I do, I rely on looks a lot. Women’s calling cards, unfortunately, are based on their looks. As far as ageing goes, it’s rough. I exercise like a fiend.”

Whatever Debbie does, it’s working. (She has admitted to plastic surgery.) The last time I saw her at a Manhattan event she looked 35 and was totally recognizable as Debbie Harry.

15 comments so far.

  1. avatar Paul Smith says:

    Having today viewed L’Amour Fou, all things seem deathly unfashionable after Laurent. I heard of no one tearing through the stores and online to get copies of Michelle’s wardrobe as they did surely for the chic tailorings of the Duchess of Cambridge. Stores sold out instantly. Retail was startled alive. Our first lady could work harder to dazzle people all the way to opening their purses to spend.

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I suspect what Peter Fonda is referring to is the growing fear by a growing number of people that we are headed for bad times as a result of Barack Obama continuing the policies of George W Bush which serve ony the “haves and have-mores” and have created millions more “have-nots’ and and part of those policies included the tax cuts that benefitted the “haves and have-mores” far more than they did the have-nots and were extended by Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress which as the Republican Congress before it pulled ”trickle-down” scam on the few Americans who still believe it. It trickles up, not down.

    Millions of Americans out of work and no longer receiving unemployment benefits while millions of illegal immigrants have work and are overwhelming out education, and welfare systems.  And Barack Obma talks about “immigration reform” to legalize them with total disregard, some would say disdain, for the American workers they displaced. 

    The taxpayers bailed out GM and now GM is building a new manufacturing plant not in the United States but in Mexico.  Hershey is laying off 3,000 workers and also moving to Mexico. Something wrong with the picture.  Something wrong with the policies of Barack Obama. 

    Our homeless populations are increasing.  The systems set up to help them are overwhelmed. At some point, there will be social unrest. Scary to think about. But some like Peter Fonda are thinking about it just the same. Bad times are coming. 

    I’ve never head of Lars von Triers.  And wish I’d never heard of Cokie Roberts.

    • avatar KarenR says:

      Obama’s not the one who rammed NAFTA through – thank Clinton. Regardless, GM is NOT building a new plant in Mexico but is investing in a plant they already have there, just as they are also doing in their US plants, particularly here in Michigan.

      As far as auto production is concerned it’s the province of Ontario, Canada that is the state/province that produces the most vehicles in North America. Why Ontario – unionized (CAW), no major currency exchange imbalance, no substandard wages or living conditions? Government sponsored universal health care, that’s why, just like the rest of the civil industrial nations with which the US competes.

      Former Chrysler head and, more recently, GM VP of worldwide product development Bob Lutz has a book coming out in June that I can’t wait to get into my mitts. Car Guys vs Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business amazon.com/gp/product/1591844002

      It’s well past time for someone to call out the bean counters and other Wall Street minions for the damage they’ve done to the nation while pursuing short term gains.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Mexico or Canada, new plants or “renovated” plants the bottom line is American workers are out of work.  And Detroit is still a disaster area.  Symbolic perhaps of the rest of America. 

        Just as Barack Obama has continued the policies of George W Bush, Bill Clinton continued the policies of George HW Bush. Something wrong with that picture as well. One thing that’s wrong with it is that Pamela Harriman was grooming Al Gore to run for president in 1992. And then Bob Strauss and Ann Richards came and introduced her to Bill Clinton.  Bob Strauss neglected to tell Pamela Harriman and Ann Richards that he was good friends with George HW Bush.

        As for NAFTA and CAFTA well all I can say is NAFTA + CAFTA = SHAFTA.  Fortunately South America has said “no thanks” to SAFTA but perhaps they saw the “H” in it all that no one else did.  Which left us with it. 

        Bottom line is we are no longer a democracy and the reason why is we go to the polls and vote solely on the basis of the (D) or the (R) beside the name. That is where the real SHAFTA is. We are an oligrachy. “Of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation.” And those few who own the corporation. Who could care less about us. The American people.

      • avatar KarenR says:

        Which “Detroit” do you mean – the city, the domestic auto industry, or the metropolitan region?

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        All of the above. Detroit was the beginning, really, of this “new” economy…

      • avatar KarenR says:

        If that’s the case then you have to take your gripes all the way back to at least the early 1950s.

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    And as for all these lunatics who call themselves Republicans who continue to call Barack Obama a socialist and communist need to finally take a look at his policies. The only redistribution of wealth under him  has been to those who already have the wealth. And obviously intend to keep it. Even if the result of it is riots in the streets. 

    As for the lunatics who call themselves Democrats, they too need to finally take a look at his policies. Everyone else needs to finally wake up and starting voting evryone out of office. And keep voting them out of office until we get a Congress and state legislatures that serve the people. I am so disillusioned with Barack Obama that I would vote for Sarah Palin at this point. 

  4. avatar KarenR says:

    Liz, your sense of formality must have been set to high when you were listening to Cokie Roberts. I can easily envision her saying that in a jesting and familiar manner. (Really, it’s not that uncommon a remark). I’ve always appreciated that she doesn’t appear to take herself as seriously as some other Washington journalists.

    • avatar Barbara says:

      KarenR – you are right. I saw Cokie Roberts on This Week when she made the remark. She was sitting next to her husband and looked at him sideways with a smile as she said it. While I decry all of the rhetoric that seems to incite violence, this is not one of the comments I would have picked out to complain about.

  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    And back to gossip since this is a gossip column I suspect Chanel is turning in her grave over the mere suggestion that Yves St. Laurent or anyone else was her peer. Even those who followed her at the House of Chanel are not her peers.

  6. avatar davidortiz says:

    I think one thing Mrs. Obama should do is wear dresses that cover her shoulders.  She always seems to be wearing a dress with no sleeves; enough already with showing your shoulders; cover them up, especially at a state dinner with the Queen of England.

  7. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Though the First Lady does wear appropriate clothes; they are very conservative because this is the image that she wants American eyes to view when she stands by her husband. I believe that she purposely avoids being in a position that relates to her fashion sense as opposed to her husband’s State of the House speeches. Yes, she wants to look pretty. She does. She knows where her true attention is needed and steps down a bit in the world of fashion. And, of course, Princess Catherine (Liz’s words, not mine) is just starting her ascent into the world of high fashion. She will have a lot of latitude when it comes to making a fashion statement, as her husband’s will not be King for forty more years plus. She’s experimenting publically and privately on designs that compliment her style. Of course, I see her having an advantage in that field. I’ve never said “Thank you God” when being assigned a print job in Hollywood. On my level, you were a prop representing a product and it was this way for 90% of print models. If you make decent money doing print, then (no matter what other creative aspirations that you have) are never encouraged by your agent t pursue it. You try not to pigeon yourself, but a job is a job and you don’t say no when you are a ‘baby’ in the business. After a dozen years or so, and you have not made a vertical move, you give up and find more appropriate work; which is easier to do in one’s 30′s than 20′s…especially in Hollywood. “The Literacy Partners” (Everybody Deserves a Chance to Read) is still such a worthy cause and should be supported at every non-profit advent imaginable, though the benefit deserves to be held at cocktail hour opposed to a luncheon…for obvious reasons (If discussing S E X ) Good luck. Working in casting, in Hollywood in the mid eighties, SAG’s 1st call back was choosing a photo for a part, small scale and commercial so there were days that I saw so many photos that they all melted into one or two in my mind. And men looking more rough and masculine were usually the look they (the client) wanted on the variety of projects, and the all American beautiful girl smile. If you REALLY looked like your picture, things ran smoothly. They came back for a 2nd call back. It boiled down to ‘mystery (men)’ vs. ‘comfortable (women)’ and we haven’t (even today) strayed very far off from this. In 1984, I was 26 and all kinds of feelings were evoked in looking at the photos. Now, at 54, I know I would only see them as much younger people, and exhaust myself trying to get a square peg into a round hole. And now, I work in a profession where people could care the LEAST about their appearance. Peter Fonda’s commentary on contemporary times was completely over the top the moment a gun reared its ugly head. That’s pretty basic. And BLONDIE, Debbie Harry hits the charts with the disco hit “Heart of Glass” in 1979 and that was the birth of the first disco song I ever free style danced too (In the late 1970′s… a group of staged dance movements were created to accompany the disco songs, like a dancing with the stars). But soon people tired of these synthetic dance movements, and danced however they wanted. But Debbie was my time, my Studio One in West Hollywood time. Everything was disco. This lasted a few years and Blondie experimented with several types of sounds soon, they were no more. I did smile in 1990, home in Boston…and stable, when I head a new Debbie Harry song, “I Want That Man”, such memories. She is a beautiful woman, 1979 or 1990, and the years thereafter. I’ve seen her recently. She is 66 and still looks great: “Once I had a love, and it was a gas. Soon turned out to be a pain in the…..”

  8. avatar Lila says:

    Re: androgynous evening wear: waaaaaay back in the 1980s there was an economic summit hosted in my area, involving the heads of state of what was then the G-7. I was passing by a venue for an evening event and noticed a female reporter dressed in a man’s tux. Curious… she told me that reporters were expected to wear black-tie attire to the event, and the men could be reimbursed for tux rentals or even purchases, but the women were NOT reimbursed for gown purchases or even gown rentals… obvious inequity. She planned to present the tux rental bill to her editor just like her male colleagues. I wish I knew how that turned out; hard to see how the editor could deny her the reimbursement.

  9. avatar Lila says:

    Fonda and Roberts and others who like to publicly shoot off their mouths should be careful. If things go wrong and the targets of their remarks are hurt or killed, guess who just made themselves a suspect. Happens all the time, but most mouthy people don’t have their ramblings recorded in the national media.

    Back in the 60s in the DC area we had a neighbor who was having a heated political discussion in public, and said (I think it was of President Johnson) something like, “Ugh, he ought to be shot.” Damned if two Secret Service agents didn’t show up at her door and ask about it. It did not amount to anything, but boy, her cage was rattled.