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Even de la Prada, who at one point threatened to sue the actor, has found Cohen’s comedy (and his high-wattage visibility) too much to resist. “I am happy with it now,” she said after reflecting on her upcoming star turn in the film. “It can be amusing, no? Besides, he’s given me a lot of publicity.”
Publicist Paul Wilmot, who taped a memorable scene with Brüno during the character’s early days on “Da Ali G Show,” agrees that being humiliated by Cohen has its benefits. “This thing has a half life of plutonium,” he said, citing the popularity of his Brüno scene on YouTube in which the unsuspecting and apparently sincere Wilmot cautions viewers to have safe sex...via mime. “Someone just the other day came up to me at the Waverly Inn and said ‘You’re the Brüno guy.’ I actually think I’ve gotten business from it.”
It was perhaps inevitable that Brüno would become fashionable. Cohen is too funny, too ballsy, too popular to be “auffed” by the fashion industry.
In addition to Marie Claire, Brüno also landed the cover of GQ this month for a nude portrait shot by Mark Seliger — marking a rare moment in publishing in which one (celebrity?) books top billing on both a men’s and women’s title in the same month. The GQ cover, which was inspired by the famous 1971 nude portrait of Yves Saint Laurent, is nothing if not a nod to fashion insiders.
“Getting name-checked in Brüno is the ultimate fashion accessory,” said Halpin. “People want to be in the movie. It’s more insulting not to appear in it than to be insulted in it.”
Some in the fashion world have been in on the joke for months. In Paris in the fall, when Brüno was busy crashing runways at Iceberg and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Stella McCartney allegedly knew about Brüno’s plans at her show.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about,” she said with a wink when asked backstage about Brüno’s presence. He had clapped a little too loudly and showily preened himself while seated in the second row, but otherwise, Brüno was on his best behavior that day — a token show of…respect? “I love his work in fashion,” McCartney added.
For all its garishness, there is also actual fashion in Brüno. Cohen wears bona fide pieces from Alexander McQueen, Roberto Cavalli, Raf Simons, Dolce & Gabbana, Thierry Mugler and Dsquared in the film and also name-drops the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. To the movie’s Sydney premiere, Brüno dressed as a sexy knight in shining armor (complete with white horse), sporting a Gucci shirt and tie.