Friday, 28 May 2010

SATC2: The review

About 20 minutes in Sex and the City 2, Carrie Bradshaw is celebrating her two-year wedding anniversary with the man she bleated and bellyached over for six interminable HBO seasons. They are seated in their sweeping New York apartment that has been over-decorated within a throw pillow of its life and surrounded by strategically placed designer labels. When her big bacon-earning husband unveils his thoughtful albeit unsexy anniversary present to her (after he has cooked them a meal and presumably paid the gas and cable bills, and dismissed the housekeeper for the night) she balks in disbelief. Upon asking her what she would have preferred she cocks her head, twirls her hair and responds coquettishly, "A piece of jewellery would have been nice."     

And that's when a barf bag would have been nice. Suddenly I felt sick to my stomach. I'm not a fool and I'm not new to the SATC franchise; I know it's a cultural phenomenon that is based on unabashed consumerism and an inability to function outside the borders of white, privileged America. Unless of course, it's white, privileged Paris. But to break your husband's balls for not buying you jewellery for your anniversary is where I draw the line between harmless fun and the obliteration of feminist ideals, not to mention the poisoning of young women who have yet to navigate the choppy waters of a committed relationship. (Here's a clue girls: he's not obligated to buy you expensive stuff.)

Flash forward to an extravagant trip the frivolous foursome take to Abu Dhabi, because Samantha, who is taking a drugstore of pills to delay the onset of menopause (I want to fuck young boys! Isn't that fabulous?!), decides that she's done with the economic austerity of the last two years that has seen her downsize to a smaller Birkin and wants to live large Middle East styles. Shocked by the religious restrictions of a country that — WTF? — frowns upon public cunnilingus (evidently Sam doesn't bother with things like CNN) she brazenly throws propriety, respect and the law out the window. After all, she is American and who else to burst into a foreign land and tell people how to live their lives? In one especially appalling scene where [SPOILER ALERT] Samantha's purse flies open and sprays condoms across the souk, she proceeds to affront the chastising Muslim men who gather around her with "Fuck you! I like to have sex!" It's American arrogance at its best.

Perhaps what astounded me most was the sheer ignorance these four women displayed. They are educated, wealthy and reside in New York, a city that owes much of its appeal to multiculturalism. And surely they've travelled to other countries at some point in their lives? Yet they are utterly uninformed on the customs, rules and secrets of the Middle East. Crushed by a lacklustre review of her latest book in The New Yorker, Carrie says she's been walking around with the magazine in her purse for 20 years. Maybe she just never pulled it out and actually, like, read it. Because if she had, she wouldn't be so dumbstruck at the discovery that many Muslim women are wearing couture under their robes. Who doesn't know this?

The movie is two-and-a-half hours of the most idiotic observations since Sarah Palin saw Russia from her backyard. Upon first seeing a Muslim woman in the traditional hijab, Carrie opines, "It's like they're not allowed to have a voice" (uh yeah, thanks for the insight, Benazir Bhutto); and when her butler tells her that he and his wife are reunited once every three months because she lives in India and that's how long it takes him to scrape together the money to get over there, she interprets this as "how their marriage works." Um, actually, no. It's how he makes ends meet.

It wasn't all racial profiling and Manolo Blahniks, however. In one very touching and uncharacteristically self-aware scene, Miranda and Charlotte drink themselves silly to ease the guilt of admitting to the hardships of motherhood despite having live-in nannies, and raise their glasses to toast all the mothers out there who don't have full time help. It was a heartwarming albeit brief moment of humility. And [SPOILER ALERT] Liza Minelli makes a cameo and does a vaguely terrifying if mesmerizing rendition of All the Single Ladies. She may be a certified loon, but man can that lady dance!

And the clothes? Well, between Sarah Jessica Parker wanting to promote her own designs for Halston and Patricia Field being in dire need of some Lithium and a long nap, the costumes were nothing short of nightmarish. For a desert camel riding scene, a lackey appears with clothes for the ladies to change in to. In a flurry of Hermes, Dior and Chanel shopping bags, the women are transformed into a motley foursome of circus freaks reminiscent of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, but less classy. Carrie wears a white bustier with nipple tassels fer Chrissake!

I know sequels can be tricky, and I suspect that's why we'll never know what happens when Ben and Elaine get off the bus or if ET will ever phone Elliot, but I beg of the powers that be at SATC to pull a condom out of Samantha's purse and slip it on before considering spawning another movie. Nine months from now, you and the viewing public will thank me.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Oh spare me dot com

As print media continues its agonizing shuffle down the green mile, online magazines have been popping up faster than Tiger Woods' mistresses. And while those of us who work in the industry are grateful that the web can provide a sufficient afterlife, there's no doubt that we are dealing with a different beast. For starters, we'd might as well start eulogizing the feature story because most people aren't going to put the time into reading a 1500-word treatise on the floral print on their computer or iPhone or Kindle or whatever other crazy contraption they're using today to read Perez. Furthermore, online fashion magazines have pretty well put to rest the traditional editorial shoot and birthed the celebrity Today I'm Wearing column to replace it. Alexa Chung, Olivia Palermo, Daisy Lowe and Daisy de Villeneuve, to name a few, have all enriched our lives with a daily photo and rundown of their outfits that reads like an early Tom Wolfe stream-of-consciousness novel. I mean seriously, who rolls out of bed on a Monday morning and throws on a 3.1 Phillip Lim blouse, Current Elliot cut offs, Wolford tights, American Apparel tube socks, Church's patent leather oxfords, a vintage military jacket from a flea market in Tokyo, a scarf stolen from a mother's closet and which was bestowed upon her by Mick Jagger backstage at Altamont, a Chanel 2.55 bag and Pete Doherty's trilby? Dude. (Just to clarify, none of the aforementioned celebrities have actually appeared in this outfit. I've just taken bits of each girl's signature style and put them together to create one massive celebudouche. Although I'm fairly certain that exact outfit has already been spotted on the streets of Brooklyn once or twice. Do let me know if you've seen it.) 

Now, I'm afraid to report, the online magazine-celebrity column affair is turning into a serious relationship. Agyness Deyn, the androgynous British model famous for her platinum blond crew cut and her inability to walk in Burberry platforms, is launching an online magazine with her friend Fiona Bryne, a journalist who has worked with pubs like NYLON and New York. They're calling it, which is kind of what I feel like doing to Aggy when I see her in outfits like this:

and this:

and especially this:

Asked about the editorial direction of the publication, Aggy replied succinctly: "It's just going to be stuff we think is rad." I'm pretty sure that's short for radon. Because only the ingestion of a radioactive chemical like that can explain these fashion choices.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Coke nails even Elvira Hancock wouldn't approve of

In other nail polish news (bet you'll never hear that on CNN), Diet Coke has partnered with London's Nails Inc. to launch the Diet Coke City Collection. Four polishes dedicated to the fashion capitals — London (nude: presumably a nod to the pantsless trend started, established and perpetuated by Daisy Lowe, the Geldofs et al.), New York (fuchsia: the East River is so radioactive right now that's probably its new natural hue), Paris (purple: insert requisite crack here about smelly Frenchmen) and Milan (red: passion, blood, Ferraris, marinara sauce: all solid Italian clichés) — will be given to shoppers free with every purchase of a 500mL bottle of Diet Coke in Boots stores (sorry, UK only). However, if you're desperate to get your hot little hands on this, one of the beauty industry's weirdest collabs, they are also available on

Like scoring Louboutins at 95% off (you know who you are, Bonnie Mo), we wear our deals and cheap-chic finds with pride. I was at the Holt Renfrew fall preview the other morning when someone commented on my bright coral nails — what I like to call my Texan grandmother mani: "It's Sally Hansen," I declared with pride. The nail polish cost less than $7 at Shoppers Drug Mart and dried in under 10 minutes. I just can't argue with those numbers. But I don't know how I'd feel disclosing that my nail polish is Diet Coke Milan. It's kind of up there with wearing celebrity perfume. Like, who would ever fess up to dabbing a little of Jessica Simpson's Fancy Nights behind her ears? (Actually, don't answer that.)

I know Kaiser Karl is all "Coca Light ees 'ow I got so fashionably skeennee" and every woman's collarbone should be able to double as a weapon so we must all go on a Diet-Coke-and-cigarettes diet tout suite and a bunch of fashion designers created one-of-a-kind bottles of Diet Coke for Milan fashion week two seasons ago to raise money for charity and all, but DC nail polish? It sounds like it should be sold to little girls whose creepy mothers take them to the spa for baby facials and pedicures. Also, are you with me that they could have at least injected a second of humour into the situation by creating a syrupy brown colour? I mean, c'mon.     

Monday, 17 May 2010

I love to get nailed, but not like this

My mother's a classy dame. She's one of those ladies who never leaves the house without lipstick, a designer bag or, weather permitting, a fur coat. Don't be angry; it's an Italian thing. But beneath that polished surface beats the heart of a neurotic loon. A trait that was passed on to me in utero and haunts me — or enhances me, depending on who you talk to — to this day. Among our shared neuroses: obsessive cleanliness, a dramatic intolerance of poor table manners, a manic need to be the hostess with the mostest, and neat fingernails.  

That last one is weird, isn't it? I don't know why, but if we spot a stylish woman (or man, for that matter) in public, we both check out their hands before giving the green light of approval. It bears mentioning that this approval means nothing to them, but you know, we judge regardless. To our credit, we are pretty meticulous about keeping our own hands clean and, for the most part, freshly polished. My mom's a tried-and-true red lady, while I'm more of a floozy who flits from nudes to brights to dramatic grays and black. Sometimes we make a point of matching our nails to a particular item of clothing, and although I know I'm verging into old lady territory, sometimes I like to match my lipstick. It's more quirky than granny...or at least that's what I tell myself. In a pinch though, my mom and I will both reach for the nearest tube of top coat and slap it on naked nails as we rush out the door, because if nothing else, shiny nails are pretty nails.

Note: this is not my hand

For some reason, however, the beauty industry is trying to slip us a lethal dose of Ativan by way of a perplexing trend: matte nail polish. Flat and viscous, matte polish delivers all the saturated colour with none of the exciting pop. It's like painting your nails with Liquid Paper, which sure was a fun way to pass the time in geography class, but by the time you got to world history it was already chipped and the chemicals were slowly seeping into your bloodstream. In short, a bad idea. I'm not sure if nostalgia is what beauty companies were going for when they launched matte polish, or if like $350 half-pants-half-shorts (you know who you are) it's just because everything else has been done 20 times over. Either way, I beg of them to stop.

I understand that sometimes boredom is the mother of invention, but I don't think that 15-year-olds who switch between sniffing Liquid Paper and applying it to their fingernails is really where we need to be looking for inspiration. 'Cuz that shit ain't classy at all.     

Friday, 14 May 2010

How to be SATC

Because evidently even Carrie Bradshaw worries about bunions, the Sex and the City corporation has launched the "Afterparty" flat, a foldable slipper that sexy gals are meant to slip into once they've hobbled out of sight of the fabulous party where they drank Cosmos all night and fellated rich, handsome bachelors in the bathroom.

The "Carrie" flat, $64.99, available at

There are six styles in total, four of which are named after the main characters in the show, natch. I'm perplexed by the two supplementary styles that bear the names "SATC Black Corsage" and "SATC Pink Gems" respectively. Surely they could have named them after a secondary character, or perhaps a recurring theme in the show like cats or desperation. They are, of course, just one item in a shit storm of tie-ins, which include martini glasses, thong underwear and a smattering of leopard-printed accessories. It begs the question: who in God's name would go to the HBO store in search of underwear? But I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear the answer to that.

None of this is remotely surprising; it's a business and this is what businesses do. In fact, it's a lesson I learned a long time ago while watching Mel Brooks' masterpiece Star Wars spoof, Spaceballs. As the pint-sized soothsayer Yogurt explains to Lone Starr, the ruggedly handsome space-bum-for-hire, the real money for movies is made in merchandising. There's Spaceballs the T-shirt, Spaceballs the Colouring Book, Spaceballs the Lunch Box, Spaceballs the Breakfast Cereal, Spaceballs the Flame Thrower: "The kids love this one."

If you ask me, the SATC merchandise development team should take a page out of the book of Yogurt. How about Sex and the City the Vibrator? Or Sex and the City the Cigarettes? Or Sex and the City the Perfume: L'Air du Tramps? For the fan looking to expand her horizons, there could be Sex and the City the At-Home Psychology Certificate Program. The course book would include chapters on how to come off like a respectable lady by putting out on the first date and how to ruin your credit by buying lots of stuff you can't afford. The possibilities really are endless.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Schizo Chic

Indecision is the God-given right of every woman. I don't care if that is a cliché or if it makes me a cliché to say it — there's a reason certain things become truisms, and that's because they're, well, true. I've changed my mind on thousands of things over the years. Why, just a few weeks ago I curtly refused a gentleman's offer of gin by explaining to him that I don't touch the stuff, and then bam! Last Sunday I woke up with a blinding gin-induced hangover from spending the greater part of Saturday night knocking back gin martinis. (For the record, I once again no longer touch the stuff.)  

And like most chronically-tardy women, in the moments leading up to an event that I will undoubtedly be late for, I stand before my open closet in my undergarments confounded by whether the outing calls for pants or shorts. Could this be why Bernhard Willhelm designed these?

God, I hope not. Because if Herr Willhelm thinks I'm gonna wear these just because he made them for me and my ilk, he's gonna be sorely disappointed. Of course it begs the question, for whom did he design these...shants? Ports? Shousers? Torts? I don't know what to call them. Other than hideous and wrong.

I wonder if they'd make you walk weird? Or if they would inadvertently force you to work that much harder at toning your right leg resulting in lopsided muscle definition? Maybe the designer can partner up with Reebok and get them to sell those EasyTone shoes in singles. That way the flabby pant leg can get a workout with every step and try to catch up to the sexy shorts leg. Come to think of it, Herr Willhelm has just cut all of our workout times in half with these things. And for that, we thank you. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Leave the lederhosen to the kinder

If I had to choose my favourite season, summer would not be number one. In fact, it wouldn't even make it into the top three. Fall is my favourite for its poetic blend of nostalgia and bitterness. It's both beautiful and cruel, just like those expensive five-inch stilettos that cost you two paycheques and which you vowed to wear all-the-time because they go-with-everything but which almost caused you to plummet to your death while negotiating a spiral staircase after several martinis. And by you, I mean me.

This year, though, I'm looking forward to summer. The only explanation I can offer for this uncharacteristic change of heart is that I just went through my first Canadian winter as a dog owner. Of a dog, mind you, who curls up on a patch of ice and falls blissfully asleep the way most animals can only do on your goose-down duvet in front of a roaring fire. Of a dog who is capable of clawing through glass just to get a face full of fresh snow. A dog who sweats in -20 degree winds. Come to think of it, for a 14-month-old chocolate Lab, Floyd is remarkably similar to a menopausal woman in the throes of a hot flash. And being a good 20 years away from experiencing hot flashes myself, I tend to get a bit chilly when I walk the little monster. So yeah, I'm pretty psyched that summer is upon us.

What I'm not looking forward to, however, is the inevitable onslaught of fashion don't's that accompany the season: short-shorts and high heels, white jeans and red thongs, tube tops and tan lines. I dare say, I wouldn't bat an eyelash if I saw a woman swing herself around a bus stop pole. To add insult to injury, designers have decreed leather shorts to be a summer staple this year. They're calling them lederhosen (German for leather pants), the likes of which have until now been reserved for deutsche kinder and anyone with a walk-on role in The Sound of Music. (Though I would be remiss if I didn't also cite Chevy Chase in the greatest scene in European Vacation where his misunderstanding of a traditional German dance spirals into a festival-wide brawl.) It would seem that leather shorts are no longer the sole domain of S&M bars and gay pride parades. No, they're trendy. As seen on the runways of Chloé, YSL and Pucci, in the Bergdorf Goodman catalogue and even the shelves of Zara. You know what that means: expect to see them on a Main Street near you. Worse, near me. Scheiße.

Lederhosen on a child, where they may (or may not) belong

 Leather shorts at YSL and Cholé, where they definitely do not belong

I'm not so naive that I don't understand the sweeping appeal of a girl in short-shorts and heels, white jeans and a red thong, a tube top and tan lines, I just think it's tacky. But leather shorts bring out a whole other finger-wagging, tsk-tsk'ing old lady in me and she's most concerned about hygiene and breathability and ensuring a safe environment for all your lady bits. All things that will be highly compromised by leather shorts on a hot, humid day in July. And that's cruelty of the ugliest kind.