We’re getting fatter and fatter, or so the endless flow of statistical surveys would have us believe. But is this the whole picture? I think not. Based on my observations at last week’s New York Fashion Week frenzy, I am forced to the conclusion that there’s a hell of a lot more going on. The chubbying of America is only one aspect of an increasingly bizarre landscape.
Something’s definitely blowin’ in the wind, and it feels a tad sinister. I am now totally convinced that there is a new and mysterious conspiracy at work, the goal of which is to divide and subdivide us Manhattanites into ever more specific and peculiar physical types. While the tubby group is increasing by leaps and bounds, so are various other new and strange species. The Coney Island freak show has done a reverse commute.
With cosmetic surgery, eating disorders, drugs (illegal and legal), hair extensions, knocker implants, hormones and butt pads just a mouse click away, transformation has become our mot du jour. The times they are a-changin’, and so are you. But what are you turning into? Not sure? Consider the following categories:
A favorite with P.R. girls and out-of-town department-store buyers, this look—Nicollette Sheridan/Tara Reid/Jessica Simpson—is seen everywhere at Fashion Week, except on the runway. With her fake blonde extensions, fake tan and fake boobs, the Supervixen is the opposite of Marina Rust and Sally Albemarle. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not judging. In fact, I have a horrible feeling that if I were a chick, I would end up in this group. Trading in chic for shags, Chanel for plunging Roberto Cavalli halters and butt-crack jeans, I would happily sacrifice the opportunity to appear on the best-dressed lists in order to live the life of a sassy good-time girl. Some of these ladies are hefty; some are svelte. What do they all have in common? Obscenely high self-esteem and the delusion that their look is “natural.” The best news of all: There would appear to be, for the Supervixen, no sell-by date: see Victoria Gotti + Mother Gastineau.
THE APPLE HEADS
Once, twice, three times Nicole Richie. A former Supervixen, Lionel’s daughter is now the patron saint of this, the freakiest of the currently emerging species. I clocked her at close quarters after the Marc Jacobs runway show. Oy vey! No wonder she’s dancing on the ceiling: You would too if you didn’t actually weigh anything anymore. In fairness to Ms. Richie, she is not the only one. The front row of every show was packed with cadaverously thin, minute celebs—Winona, the Olsen twins, La Lohan—sporting boulder-sized heads (and those massive sunglasses!). Karl Lagerfeld, with his Team America puppet proportions, has paved the way for older foppish men to enter this group. As osteoporosis sets in, I may well follow in Kaiser Karl’s footsteps.
THE DONNA DUCKS
These older, well-preserved women—senior store execs and the like—are in great shape but have, thanks to pixie-ish nose jobs and lip collagen, come to resemble Donald Duck.
These overachieving young entrepreneurs would rather eat, drink and BlackBerry than jog. I first witnessed this phenomenon at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach, where every svelte, bikini-clad lady was accompanied by a devoted Shrek-sized male companion in Vilebrequin shorts. Shreks, just like their screen namesake, are warm, generous and loyal and make great husbands. (Shrusbands?) Think Mario Batali. Speaking of whom, Barneys hosted a festive post-show bash for Narciso Rodriguez last week at Mr. Batali’s gorgeous Del Posto restaurant in the meatpacking district. Though Mike Myers, an Olsen and Rachel Weisz were all in attendance, the most talked-about celebrity of the evening was a massive, oversized Bologna sausage—instantly dubbed “the Colin Farrell”—from which hungry Shreks hacked large chunks.
Models have gotten insanely taller and taller, and their heads have gotten smaller and more doll-like. They are literally telegraph poles with ping-pong balls resting on the top. These Beanpoles are therefore the opposite of Apple Heads. If Linda and Christy arrived on the scene now, they would be considered squat by comparison and relegated to shooting medical catalogs. The flow from Eastern Europe of this otherworldly species has turned into a torrent. Clearly, Estonia and Russia have set up factories that genetically engineer these gals and give them names like Snejana, Behati and Jeisa.
THE G.I. JOES
Many are gay—see the “bear”-inspired John Bartlett show—but a growing number of straight dudes are availing themselves of the benefits of a super-buff, that’s-not-just-from-working-out body.
Who is there to intimidate at Fashion Week? Those bossy Supervixens can always use to be taken down a peg or two.
As in Daniel Vosovic, the most likely winner of the Bravo network’s Project Runway on the March 8 finale. With his slurpy Sally Hershberger hair and his natural, languid elegance, Daniel epitomizes le nouveau androgyny. Like the dykes on The L Word, he has shed any overt sexual characteristics in favor of a Fred Segal rock-’n’-roll grittiness.
The transgender-bending Vosovics may well be the fastest-growing group of all, as anyone watching the current parade of tweener hopefuls on American Idol can attest. They are also, to my 1950’s way of thinking, the most perturbing group. I predict that, by 2010, it will no longer be possible to tell the Arthurs from the Marthas, and there will be trans-bathrooms on every American college campus as well as the Bryant Park tents.
Come back to the five and dime, Steve McQueen, Steve McQueen!