Holiday gift-giving circa 2001
is a minefield. It’s not sufficient that gifts be fabulous-they, like
everything else, must now convey the right tone .
What constitutes the right post-9/11 tone? It changes every day, and it’s
subjective. Small wonder New Yorkers are terrified of being either too
depressingly earnest or too unpatriotically frivolous.
Don’t get yourself in a tizzy.
Relax, sparkle and, as you slog your way through your gift list, adopt the
following guiding principle: try to select gifts which leave the recipient
feeling empowered, invincible and positively tigress-y. No first editions of
lugubrious 19th-century poetry or mumsy sachets of potpourri! Steer clear of
anything involving a doily. Give a gift that incites the recipient to bite the
air with confident, stylish exhilaration. Now that’s patriotic! Here,
therefore, is my 2001 guide to uplifting gifts:
1. There’s nothing more empowering than noisy, jangly,
look-out-I’m-comin’-through jewelry, and this season sees a bumper crop of that
noisiest of accessories, the charm bracelet. (N.B.: This is a great gift for a
nightmarish, high-maintenance in-law. The jangling bijoux will give you plenty
of warning to turn off the lights and lie on the floor.) Linda Lee Johnson has
just created a 22-karat heavy-link gold bracelet. Charms include a hand of
Fatima, a dog, a dove, a cross, etc. … The bracelet with four charms is
available at Barneys Madison Avenue (approximately $12,000). Louis Vuitton
sells an 18-karat luxe-themed (champagne bottle, Eiffel Tower, jet) charm
bracelet priced for the recklessly wealthy (approximately $25,000, including
charms). For a green-thumbed chum, Mish (131 East 70th Street) has a
high-decibel 18-karat gardening bracelet (right) complete with a tulip and
flower-pot toggle closure ($6,500). And Bulgari sells a Romanesque minimalist
bracelet plus 18-karat coin-like charms ($2,200).
If these are out of your price range, consider buying your friend
a copy of Strait-Jacket ($19.95 on
Amazon.com). This 1964 cult classic stars Joan Crawford as an ax-murdering
charm-bracelet wearer and may actually provide far more entertainment.
2. What could be more
uplifting than a stack of exquisitely inspiring vintage fashion mags? A gift
certificate to Gallagher’s (126 East 12th Street)-the largest
fashion-periodical archive in the world-is the perfect solution for hard-to-buy-for
style chums. A Gallagher’s gift certificate is also a great gift for a formerly
creative colleague who has, post-9/11, gone a bit soggy in the workplace. A few
late-1950’s copies of Harper’s Bazaar
will get his or her juices flowing again.
3. Being fabulous and
exhilarated and international can be tiring. After all the glamour fits, your
pal may need the support of a Loro Piana
cashmere neck pillow ($195 at Loro Piana, 821 Madison Avenue).
4. You and your girlfriends
love to sit around having spa evenings with glam Liz Taylor–ish toweling
turbans on your heads, imagining that you look like the cover of that old
Go-Gos’ album. In actuality, you look much more like the Coneheads. Why?
Because you are unable to tie your towels with the requisite savoir faire . The solution: get the
girls (and yourself) a Turbie Twist-the lightweight, idiot-proof hair-towel
turban that always stays in place. The Harriet Carter catalog (“distinctive
gifts since 1958,” 800-377-7878) sells a set of two Turbie-twists for $9.98.
Pair each Turbie-twist with a pair of Bliss Glamour Gloves coated with
hydrating gel-the good people at Bliss call it “a time-fighting anti-pigment
hand corrector.” ($55 a pair, plus gel 19 East 57th Street).
5. Your best friend continues to eschew pantyhose in the winter,
and, as a result, she spends most of the holidays languishing in bed with the
flu and dying of boredom. Get her a copy of The
Pantyhose Craft Book (1977) by Jean Ray Laury and Joyce Aiken ($10 on
Bibliofind.com). This gag gift is chock full of hideously earnest suggestions
for turning your pal’s stockpile of unworn hose into “a variety of useful and
attractive objects,” including those horrendous squishy soft-sculpture dolls.
While you’re on Bibliofind.com trawling for this book, keep your eyes peeled
for the L’Eggs Idea Book (1976) by
Alexandra Eames ($5). This thigh-slapper contains painstaking tips on how to
make tree ornaments out of your old L’eggs eggs.
6. Talking of tigress-y hauteur, Iman, the queen of the runway
air-bite, has done a book/collage about her life entitled I am Iman . Not only is this book entertaining and illuminating, it
contains every typeface known to man, and Iman ($31.50 at Amazon.com).
7. For the reckless, self-indulgent chum who wants a dog but is
in no position to look after one, buy a snotty English-like dog painting from
Denton & Gardner Ltd., 60 Grand Street, 965-8300. (Prices start at $550.)
8. Bergdorf Goodman now sells
the world’s most expensive perfume. Entitled No. 1 and created by Clive
Christian Perfumes, this Brit phenomenon boasts tenuous links to Queen
Victoria. Smelling like an old (English) queen has never been more expensive.
No. 1 Perfume for Men ($1,825 for 30 ml.) includes, among other things, orris,
cardamom oil and Mexican vanilla planifolia, which has been used in magic
rituals to attract a romantic partner. For the price, there are those who might
say it ought to include a romantic partner. The No. 1 Perfume for Women-same
price-includes the ingredient rosa centifolia, which the ancient Greeks
associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, art and creativity. On
a more down-to-earth note: The cheapest perfume in the world is called Emeraude
($3.95 for one ounce) and can be purchased at Kmart. For the price of one
bottle of Clive Christian No. 1, you can give 460 bottles of Emeraude, i.e.,
enough for an invigoratingly pungent bath.
9. Supporting the retailers in lower Manhattan does not just mean
taking a round-trip cab down to see the new Frank Gehry–conceived Issey Miyake
boutique at 119 Hudson Street. Linger longer, and bring your wallet. There are
zillions of un-trendy ailing stores below Canal Street that need your business,
e.g., Tribeca Lighting (94 Reade Street). Buy friends a year’s supply of
flattering pink low-watt light bulbs ($1.49 each; $3.99 for four). This
indirectly philanthropic gift will require an explanatory note, or the
recipient will assume you have lost your marbles.
10. Tuck a Frances Faye CD
into the new LeCute LeSportsac Bag. Tuck a what into a who? LeCute is the new
line designed for LeSportsac by my husband, Jonathan Adler. (Don’t send me
nasty e-mails about nepotism: The holidays are a time when families support
each other, right?) Printed with franglais-lecute, lesexy, letasty, lefoxy-this
collection is destined to be the Balenciaga bag of the spring, especially the
dinky Nikki bag, (right, $40). It comes in myriad styles and two color combos:
red and tan or black and white. Available at LeSportsac stores (1065 Madison
Avenue and 176 Spring Street), Bloomingdale’s and Bendel’s.
Now let’s talk about Frances
Faye, left, that foghorn-voiced cabaret singer featured in Bruce Weber’s
collage-y new movie, Chop Suey .
According to the sleeve notes for Caught
in the Act -the Faye CD which I am recommending to toi ($13.99 on Amazon.com)-the gamin and now-deceased Faye lived
above Sunset Strip “with her secretary and four French Poodles.” She was a
major dyke, and proud of it-hence the lack of mainstream acceptance.
Acclaimed as a “singer’s singer,” La Faye (or, more appropriately,
Le Faye) was popular with other belters like Judy Garland, Donald O’Connor and
Mel Tormé. On this live CD, Miss Faye jackhammers her way through myriad
standards, backed by the fiercest, stripper-ish bongo-driven arrangements
guaranteed to turn even your most straight-laced, depressive of friends into an
unstoppable, pastie-twirling air-biter.