I’m furious with all these red-carpet celebs. No, I’m not talking about the reckless jail-bound rehab devotees. I kind of like them: Britney, Lindsay et al. are providing us all with a real-life Valley of the Dolls free of charge, and I for one am truly grateful. No, I’m talking about the boring, functional ones, the ones who are not answering my e-mails.
Permit me to explain: Last week I handed in the final manuscript for my latest book, titled Eccentric Glamour (Simon and Schuster, April 2008). A style manifesto, Eccentric Glamour is intended as a wake-up call to the women of America to eschew the contemporary porno-chic trend and inject a little classy eccentricity into their fashion choices. Stop dressing like the Real Housewives of Orange County and SAY NO TO HO! Rants from yours truly are interspersed with chats with various celebs and fashion notables including Tilda Swinton, Lucy Liu, Hamish Bowles, Dita von Teese, Iman and Malcolm Gladwell.
Encouraged by my publisher, I decided to throw in a few Us magazine celebs. “Give them a chance to be part of something meaningful and substantial,” I charitably thought to myself at the time. In this crazy mixed-up world that we live in, these were the subjects that proved the most difficult.
At the top of my list are the nonresponders. The black holes. Trying to get interview time with people who think their wattage is so much greater than one’s own is a dispiriting and bewildering experience at the best of times. These can’t-even-be-bothered-to-get-back-to-you-to-decline folks make it so much worse. Shockingly, this roster includes individuals for whom one has done huge genuflecting favors at one time or another. I have resisted the impulse to name and shame, but I will give you a clue: One person’s name begins with M and ends in ary-Kate Olsen and another begins with A and ends in shley Olsen.
A suitable punishment for this kind of dissing behavior? These nonresponders deserve to be forced to wear a dropped-waist denim dress—like the one Kathy Bates wore in Misery—for the rest of their lives.
Let’s move on to the next group, the Miss-Thing-is-really-totally-swamped-right-now group. After being given a polite brush-off by these busier-than-thou gals, I would scour the media like a hawk to get a sense of the “important work” that was currently leaving the actress in question no time to contribute to my profound and epoch-making oeuvre. Some of the gals I approached, Chloë Sevigny par exemple—she’s currently wiping the floor with her castmates in Big Love—were genuinely busy. However, in most cases the decliner in question was engaged in nothing more momentous than standing around on a red synthetic carpet in front of Masonite panels printed with random logos getting her picture taken. A logo wall was deemed to be more important than moi!
Ah … the Logo Wall, that surreal montage of movie/charity/award-show logos! I swear that this strange juxtaposition of horrid diseases with corporate iconography—Lou Gehrig’s + Pond’s Cold Cream or Tampax + Munchausen Syndrome—signals the rebirth of Dada. And then, adding a performance-art element, the celebs stand in front of the logo wall while opining to Extra about the Iraq War or Nicole Richie’s upcoming jail time.
The contemporary phenomenon of the logo wall—it is also known as “a step and repeat”—is relatively new. Prior to the 1990’s, celebs or dignitaries were forced to shill without it. They were expected to remember the name of the project in question and who had funded it. This proved too difficult for Hollywood types, who tend, by and large, to forget where they are, or why they are where they are and who is paying for them to be there. Logo wall to the rescue.
Opinions are sharply divided on the cheesiness of the logo wall. Anna Wintour is not a fan. There are no logo-spattered panels at Vogue photo ops. At Barneys events we capitulate, but only when we are in L.A. (when in Rome, etc.). My preferred method of branding is to stick a mannequin in the background with a Barneys bag slung insouciantly from the shoulder. It’s cheesy but quaint.
During Lindsay Lohan’s high-speed chase last week, she allegedly told her terrified passengers that “I am a celebrity and I can do whatever the **** I want.” (Neely O’Hara, anybody?) If this is the case—and I believe it is—then why would any celebutante elect to spend her time standing around in front of a logo wall? If all you really want is a good photo op, then do a Britney Spears. Pull over on the Pacific Coast Highway and run into the ocean in your panties while giggling.
I have lost count of the number of times that I, back in the 80’s, pulled over on the Pacific Coast Highway and ran into the ocean in my panties while giggling. With or without paparazzi, it’s the most natural, refreshing thing in the world: There you are driving along, the ocean is beckoning, your botty is getting hot. You don’t have a swimsuit with you, but the temptation is too great. You start channeling Madonna in her “Cherish” video and off you go. It’s the most sane thing on earth, and yet Britney is branded a lunatic and all the chippies who are over in Hollywood standing around on red synthetic carpets in front of a NIVEA + Colon Institute logo wall—instead of responding to my Eccentric Glamour questionnaire—are viewed as stable and gainfully occupied. Color me confused.
Follow Simon Doonan via RSS.