I’ve become an agony aunt (or uncle) for fresh-faced young Manhattanites. Encouraged by the forthright views espoused in this column, the young and the restless are seeking my guidance in ever-increasing numbers. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. In fact, I rather enjoy guiding a young personage through a sticky rite of passage or two. And if I may say so myself, I invariably field their hard-hitting questions with a winning cocktail of savoir faire and aplomb.
But last week I got blindsided, and my seemingly bottomless pit of advice and trivia proved itself to be otherwise. It all started when a distressed young colleague beckoned me fervently into her cubicle and challenged me with a life-or-death fashion conundrum. “My granny gave me an Hermès scarf,” she said. “My mom wants me to wear it. I have no idea what the hell I am supposed to do with it.” Instantly I realized that this hitherto modish and confident ingénue had identified an issue of national and international importance: There was no contemporary prescription for the wearing of this famous but challenging accessory. Had the Hermès scarf had its day? Was there a way to wear it without looking like a Kurdish refugee? Was there anything wrong with looking like a Kurdish refugee?
Haunted by the thought of all those gorgeous unworn squares of hand-rolled printed silk festering in drawers and closets all over Manhattan, I resolved to find a way to preppily and hiply integrate the Hermès scarf into your summer 2001 repertoire, and that of my young colleague.
The official Hermès scarf-tying manual (available upon request at Hermès, 695 Madison Avenue) contains 37 bizarrely numbered scarf-tying suggestions, and–no offense–these range from vaguely workable to insanely fiddle-y. The tried and true Audrey-Grace technique (No. 134 in the manual) looks, at this point in history, like some silly, outmoded attempt at appearing incognito; the triangular knotted shoulder drape, No. 192, looks so mumsy not even Barbara Bush would wear it, never mind Barbara Walters or Barbra Streisand. Here are the O.K. suggestions: No. 260, an 80’sSharonStone, Chanel-y headband; No. 220, the fractured arm sling (I’m scraping the barrel); and No. 202, the gathered halter. Most of these official Hermès suggestions involve stuffing tons of excess silk down your knickers and/or lots of constant re-adjusting and re-tweaking. This, I realized in an epiphany, is the root of the problem: A young modern needs to throw on her drag and forget about it.
Here, therefore, are my two solutions for wearing an Hermès scarf. They are the grooviest no-maintenance styles.
Solution No. 1: Find a Boy Scout and steal his woggle. Don’t call the authorities! I’m talking about that little ring into which he slides the ends of his neckerchief. Bona fide woggles are only available to those in the Scouting movement. Log onto www.worldscoutshop.org, marvel at the official woggle’s unattainable beauty, and then buy the unofficial woven-leather one for $3 (approximately). Fold your scarf into a triangle and slide that woggle right up to your neck. The look is kicky, low-maintenance and shows off just enough of the printed silk. Highly recommended for skinny girls with long necks and hairy, Gypsy-ish men.
Solution No. 2: Take it to Park. No, I’m not suggesting you wear your scarf to the trendy restaurant at 118 10th Avenue (call 352-3313 for reservations). Myung Park is a fantastically vivacious Korean lady who operates a dry cleaner and tailor at 30 East 13th Street. Cross her palm with $150 and Ms. Park will take that unworn scarf and make you a nifty top that actually fits. Natalie Imbruglia–the singer who’s dating Josh Hartnett, the Bruce Weber-y hunk in Pearl Harbor –wore one to the London premiere of P.H . F.Y.I.: The good people of Hermès inveigh against this kind of “bastardization” of their product–how French of them.
In the unlikely event that you don’t have access to a neglected scarf and you actually need to buy one, avoid at all costs the non-traditional Hermès scarves. What’s the point in having an Hermès scarf if it looks like it came from Bea Arthur’s closet? The new and gorgeous Hermès scarf of note is the Chevaux Arabes, $250.
Or, for the same price, you can buy three or four “vintage” unworn scarves on eBay. Currently available and highly desirable: the insect print, the circus print and a really Hermès-y number called Les Jardines du Roy.
Hot tip: reduce woggle friction by hand-washing your new scarf until it loses that heinous duty-free, scrunchy feel.
Your wanky fear-of-commitment boy-friend dumped you in the spring, and you’ve been eating like a horse ever since. You’re now officially fat. You have promised yourself that by Labor Day you will be spinning your ass off at the gym, but in the meantime you are medicating your misery with gigantic quantities of food. It’s not a big deal; by the time fall rolls around, your rolls will have departed and you will be back on track with your regular eating disorder.
Caution: make sure you don’t get stuck with a horrifying Jackson Pollock of thigh stretch marks. Solution: run to the Selph counter at Barneys or A Pea in the Pod (625 Madison Avenue) and pick up a few vats of Eternal Realm ($38). It’s one of a whole new range of fantabulosa skin products ingeniously created for pregnant women by Una Cassidy.
Also of note for pregnant ladies and perspiring chubs, the Selph alcohol- and aluminum-free deodorant ($16.50).
Trend-crazed New York spa addicts are abandoning their usual haunts for the Korean authenticity of the Yi Pak New Han Feng Beauty Salon (10 West 32nd Street, second floor). A two-hour session costs a mere $100, and based on what I’m hearing you really get your money’s worth. “What those Koreans can do with a cucumber is nobody’s business,” said one devotee, referring to the traditional Korean beauty mask made of fresh cucumber pulp.
You get two hours of scrubbing, cucumbering, massaging and saunaing, but it’s the ambiance that is tickling the fancy of the fashion elite. Barneys fashion director Julie Gilhart told me, “It’s all so totally real. One of the Yi Pak girls sits next to a huge pile of fresh cucumbers, washing and grinding them for the face masks. The place was full of Korean ladies running around in their underwear. I love it! The massages were incredible, and they scrubbed my body with a little Oriental cloth. My skin felt like silk.”
You will emerge so silky soft, you’ll slide right through somebody’s woggle. (Call 594-1025, 594-1139 or 868-0851 for an appointment.) You are the chicest link. Goodbye!