March 30: C’est moi , dear diary, c’est moi : Phyllis Stine. Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but deliver me (C.O.D.). I’ve become the veritable “b” in the word busy lately.
Because why? First, the prospect of employment–in just two days, two days dear diary , the Mayor will announce my job as his Commissioner of New York City Politesse–has sent me spinning. (Not the stationary bike kind.) Second, it’s New York fashion week, and designers are threatening a new shape for fall. And there are long skirts! Please don’t get me started. Donna Karan told reporters the new shape will free us. Us women. From long and lean to loose and serene. Donna Karan calls the new shape: “cloudlike.” Volkswagen calls it the Beetle.
Have just returned home from the Marc Jacobs show, held in a garage on West 23rd Street. To die. J’adore . Etc. Refined. Elegant. Ladylike. Casual. Gray is the new black. Still, I mean, I love Marc Jacobs–who, as far as I am concerned, walks on water–but what worries me is the shoes. Flats? Suddenly I’m supposed to saw off my five-inch heels?
Apparently. “Looks old,” I overheard the famous stylist Joe McKenna advising a lady friend of his, pointing to her five-inchers.
It’s past midnight. To bed then. To sleep. To take another pill, perchance. To dream.
March 31: In some kind of quandary. Helmut Lang, scheduled to show his collection at 1 P.M., opted at the 11th hour not to show live but, instead, to present the collection on CD-ROM’s and on his special Web site, http://www.helmutlangny.com. Frankly, the only Web sites I’m familiar with are the cobwebs in some Long Island properties Sotheby’s tried to rent me last summer. For the lucky few, there also is a 15-minute video of Helmut’s fall collection, and a “look book.” As such, one of the lucky few, that is, received phone call at the Carlyle where I am still residing during my divorce proceedings. Let Mr. Stine pay. Caller wants to know in which format I’d like my Helmut Lang video. Digital, disk, VHS, 3/4, or Beta? And I’m like, Excuse me: Try wholesale?
But a theme emerged. With Helmut Lang exchanging the catwalk for the computer, and with high heels out and flats in, the line of life–the line of fashion, the line between heaven and hell, the line of communication, the line the doctor draws before she injects the Botox–seems so much shorter. No? It probably is time to get on it. On said line.
I asked the concierge to get me a computer and whatever else I needed to access the Helmut Lang Web site. I further instructed the concierge to arrange a Web site for myself: http://www.phyllisstinechicthing.com has a certain ring. Also asked the concierge for a computer tutor to help me deal, as I would not describe myself as technically promiscuous or particularly gifted mechanically. I can set a table, but I can’t do my own hair, if you see the distinction.
Ordered a pair of flats to be messengered from Chanel as I think I will need to practice walking.
Spent the afternoon preparing responses to questions I anticipate in my capacity as Commissioner of New York City Politesse when it becomes official tomorrow. I figure the next big thing in etiquette is the Viagra issue. How to talk about it, how to pop one on a first date without seeming like you expect sex, issues like that. How, if your advances are declined, never to complain aloud about the expense of each pill. Man plans and God laughs, regardless of the dosage. Viagra falls.
Whatever. Computer arrives. Virtually impossible to work. Computer tutor not available until Friday afternoon. Guess everyone is trying to get on line for Helmut Lang.
Failed walking in the flats, too.
April 1: Someone from the Mayor’s office called to say the Mayor was too busy to announce my appointment today; why don’t I tell people myself? Big whoop. Feel like an April Fool. Thank God for friends like Connie Seur. Always larking, Connie rang and suggested we wear our flats and take the subway to SoHo where, suddenly, Ralph Lauren decided to show his collection this season rather than in his Madison Avenue showroom. Surprised I ride the subway? I take it once a year to keep myself humble.
Liked Ralph’s show. Midway through, Connie said: “All you need to know about fashion is where Bernadine Morris’ seat is.” The New York Times fashion reporter, now retired, a front-row veteran for something like two decades, was in the fifth row.
April 2: Wonder what the dismissal of Paula Jones’ sexual harassment case signifies for American fashion, coming right in the middle of fashion week?
April 3: Add the latest superlatives to these designer names: Isaac Mizrahi, Norma Kamali, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Bill Blass, Badgley Mischka, Anna Sui, Carolina Herrera and Vivienne Tam. Vivienne just signed a deal with Judith Regan to write a book about her life and fashion. I wonder if Ms. Regan is interested in manners?
At Donna Karan, more flats and very pretty clothes. Instead of perfume freebies, got a CD called A Gift of Love . Readings by Deepak Chopra, Madonna, Demi Moore, Goldie Hawn, Rosa Parks (Rosa Parks!) and music inspired by the love poems of Rumi, the 13th-century Persian mystic. And a book of Rumi poems, too. Alas, there was no room for Rumi in my Kelly bag because it’s so filled with Ziplocs full of vitamins. There I was on Seventh Avenue, juggling everything, when up comes Polly Glott, my international fashion journalist friend. “Everything’s happening on the retail level, not on the runway,” Polly says. “We’re going to Marc Jacobs’ boutique right now. Voilà !” Who’s in the V.I.P. dressing room? Who knows the most salespeople? Who gets a piece of chocolate cake when they walk in the door? Whose designer spies inspect the racks for clothes to copy? Intrigue. Mystery.
In light of the Paula Jones decision, Polly thinks it’s a good thing there is so much boiled cashmere and long skirts for fall. “What else are you going to wear if you don’t want to get sexually harassed? Sheer? Short?”
Back at the Carlyle, my computer tutor waited. Long and lean, with almond-shaped eyes. Rather handsome. I’ve nicknamed him “Afternoon of the Faun.” When the Rumi CD tumbled from my hand, he suggested we slip it into the computer. “In my drunken haze/ Whirling and dancing/ Like a spinning wheel/ I saw myself as the source of existence.” Deepak sounds like a vintner from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book . Wow. Who knew you could play CD’s from your computer? It’s very global, no? Very fashion-forward. Playing Donna’s CD while accessing the Helmut Lang Web site. We’ve been downloading, so to speak, ever since. Taking a break to order chocolate cake from room service and jot these few thoughts down.
Dear, dear diary. The fall shows are over, and spring is here!