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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Hold the 'freedom fries'. The rapid pace of change sweeping the Arab world has wrongfooted many western policymakers. But surprises have extended beyond the region. The Middle Eastern upheavals have revealed US foreign policy to be more timid than the world has become accustomed to, and a remarkable subject has emerged as the toast of neoconservative Washington – France. While the French lobbied energetically for military action against Libya, Barack Obama and his team deliberated for weeks before finally coming out in favour of a UN resolution – drawing jibes about a president rendered 'spectator-in-chief”. Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defence in the George W. Bush administration – when in the throes of the Iraq war some diehards patriotically rebranded French fries – summed up the bitterness of those who felt that Washington should be more assertive. 'This administration seems quite content to let the leader of the free world, Nicolas Sarkozy, move ahead with all of this.' Administration officials argue that Libya is a special case, since the US sees countries such as Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen as strategically more important. And Mr Obama is an exceptionally cautious, some say hesitant, president. But all the same, the trend lines of US policy are clear. Faced with an overstretched military, massive government debt and popular disenchantment with foreign wars, Washington is looking for its partners to do more, even if that means the US playing a mere supporting role." (FT)





"To understand what's happened to Anna Wintour and to the fashion industry as a whole, it helps to look at two photographs. The first is a 1955 Richard Avedon shot of the model Dovima, dressed in a black Dior gown with flowing white sash, stretching her white arms toward two enormous pachyderms that flank her like bodyguards. 'Dovima with Elephants,' as the photograph is known, may be fashion's most iconic single image—perfectly posed and concerned with absolutely nothing but itself. A print sold for $1,153,011 at Christie's last November—a record for an Avedon. Wintour turns that iconography inside out in Vogue's April issue. Amidst the magazine's lissome models is a photo spread featuring Amar'e Stoudemire, the 6-foot-10-inch, 240-pound basketball forward, in his New York Knicks uniform. An elephant among Dovimas. Stoudemire isn't the first pick in Wintour's basketball draft—she put LeBron James on the cover a few years back—but she's been courting him for a while now. In September, she invited him to join her at the runway show before last September's Fashion's Night Out and in February she brought him to the Tommy Hilfiger show. 'Amar'e looked wonderfully dapper when he turned up,' Wintour says. 'I can think of very few men who could pull off a collegiate cardigan, bow tie and Nike high-tops. I asked him what he thought one of the best looks was, and he indicated a camel cape. And you know, he was right.' 'There are people who are like beacons, and I'm in the fortunate position that I can meet such people,' she says. It's hard to imagine Wintour hanging around with these people just because, well, she likes them. 'To be in Vogue means something,' she continues, matter-of-factly." (WSJ)


"My first encounter with Elizabeth Taylor came in 1964 when I was attending the Le Rosey boarding school in Switzerland, and we were at our winter campus in Gstaad. I was 12 at the time. The head of the English side of the school, Mr. Edward Turner, summoned me to his office. Once again, I thought I was in trouble. However, on this occasion, Mr. Turner said that an American mother wanted to send her son to Le Rosey the next school-year. Before doing so, she wanted to speak with an American student her son’s age to ask how I liked the school and my experiences. I was selected for this duty, and told to go to Charley’s Tea Room, a local Gstaad après ski gathering place, the next afternoon at 4:30. I was to meet a 'Mrs. Burton.' So on the appointed day, I showed-up at Charley’s. It was memorable for two reasons. First, I quickly learned that Mrs. Burton was Mrs. Richard Burton, aka Elizabeth Taylor. I sat at the table, ordered hot chocolate and she ordered a small plate of pastries for me. She could not have been kinder. She could see that I was nervous, and went out of her way to put me at ease.  So, flash forward to the next school-year, and my room-mate became Michael Wilding, son of British actor, Michael Wilding, Sr. and Elizabeth Taylor. What I remember most about Michael was his resemblance to his mother and her unique violet eyes." (NYSocialDiary)


"Twenty-two years or so ago, I wrote a column for The New York Observer, a weekly paper owned by a tycoon named Arthur Carter. He had come up the hard way and made his fortune in Wall Street but retained his loathing for those who had made it the old-fashioned way, mainly by inheriting and the old-boy WASP network. Graydon Carter (no relation), a good friend of mine who went on to become the big poobah at Vanity Fair, hired me to write the column. Mind you, what I wrote made Graydon very nervous. Arthur Carter was climbing the greasy social pole and complained nonstop to his editor about the cheap shots a columnist of his took at such social icons as Mercedes Bass, Henry Kravis, Michael Bloomberg, and the social moth, one Jerome Zipkin, who is no longer with us. Graydon nevertheless stuck by me even after I committed the greatest of sins—as a joke—writing that Si Newhouse, the honcho of VF, Vogue, and every other glossy that counts, was the only man who buys two tickets when he visits a zoo: one to get in and the other to get out. Having written that Arthur Carter—who dyed his hair and eyebrows in the most egregious way—had bought all the shoe polish in the city, preventing me from getting a proper shoeshine, did not help. Graydon used to have his assistant—a pretty, extremely capable, and charming girl called Amy Bell—make sure I was held in check when he was away. The trouble was Amy and I were buddies ..." (Taki Theodocrapoulos)


"Global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group said Thursday it has expanded its presence in emerging markets by establishing a team to conduct buyout and growth capital investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. 'Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, driven by favorable demographics, expanding domestic industries and an improving political environment,' said Greg Summe, a Carlyle managing director and vice chairman of the Global Buyout group. Carlyle said its initial target industries include consumer goods, financial services, agriculture, infrastructure and energy. The team, which will work out of offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria, is co-headed by Managing Directors Marlon Chigwende, a former managing director and head of private equity Africa for Standard Chartered Bank, and Danie Jordaan, a former executive committee member and partner of South African private-equity manager Ethos Private Equity ... Carlyle, with $97.7 billion in assets under management, including $16.6 billion in emerging markets, first entered the African continent with the establishment of its Middle East North Africa team in November 2006." (WSJ)


(Thakoon Panichgul and Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis via style)

"The fête (for Thakoon Panichgul), held at Soho House Basement deep in the heart of Chinatown, brought in a crowd that included Detmar Blow, Dan Macmillan, Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, and models of the moment Cara Delevingne and Edie Campbell, with Misty Rabbit at the decks. Then there were the hosts, Poppy Delevingne and Mary Charteris (the latter of whom has fashion in her DNA—her auntie is Daphne Guinness)" (Style)


"Sometimes the star of the show isn't feeling particularly starry -- or chatty. But who, then, was the belle of the ball at last evening's soiree for the John Frieda Precision Foam Colour short flick (or lengthy commercial -- tomato, to-mah-to) starring Katie Holmes, entitled The Decision? It definitely wasn't Holmes, who grinned girlishly in a white blazer and cig skinnies on the red carpet before ducking inside to nibble quietly at a roped-off table on her special-order basket of fragrant truffled fries while the brief b&w film debuted ...   It's a pity that The New York Times' dining section dynamo Sam Sifton wasn't in attendance to provide some addendums to his side-splittingly funny Lavo review from the fall ... And as Sifton astutely noted, Kelly Bensimon and Tinsley Mortimer were there for the eatery's debut eve in September and "apparently put some kind of spell on the place, because roughly 70 percent of the women who eat at the restaurant look like one or the other of them." Well, both Bensimon and Mortimer mingled amid the quilted leather walled banquettes, posed in tandem for a few glossy-locked photos-- and were indeed surrounded by myriad ladies who looked like them." (Fashionweekdaily)

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