Yule Duel

Holiday gift-giving circa 2001 is a minefield. It’s not sufficient that gifts be fabulous-they, like everything else, must now convey

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 (AMZN).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.

Happy trails!

Yule Duel