the Insiders


David and Victoria Beckham
The one absolutely necessary attribute for reporting on celebrities is the ability to throw a sharp elbow. (Well, that and to be able to ask questions that will elicit more than a stock response.)

On Friday night, sharp stilettos (for self-defense purposes, as well as style) might also have been an asset at Macy's Herald Square -- where more than 2,000 screaming fans, overly enthusiastic store security and a large group of Coty employees showed up to see David and Victoria Beckham.

Anand Jon
Scott Gries/Getty Images
The rape and sexual assault trial of designer Anand Jon in Los Angeles offers a glimpse into the world of pseudo fame.

A key part of the defense strategy rests on the argument that the nine alleged victims, aged 14 to 21, hoped to use Jon's status for their own gain and then turned on him when they didn't succeed.

Although Jon wasn't a pivotal figure in the fashion industry, some viewed him as a rising talent, even as others said his work was more flash and self-promotion than substance.
September 22, 2008 6:15 PM


The Two Red Carpets

Every awards show has its share of chaos, and the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night was no different.
A look from Oscar de la Renta.
Advocating a "Let them eat cake" approach for the uncertain economy, retailers arrived at New York Fashion Week this season with higher expectations than usual. "Business is tough. Dazzle us." "Basics be damned!" "Women have plenty to wear from last spring. Give us something really new," they chanted collectively. Like Marie Antoinette, the 18th-century clotheshorse who refused to trade down, high-end stores stressed that women are "buying less, but still buying the best," as one fashion director puts it.
Now that I have pretty much recovered from the deluge of New York shows (and rain!), I have had some more thoughts on the spring collections.

At the end of fashion week, my colleague Sharon Edelson (whose cubicle, by the way, is attached to mine, so I can listen in on all her phone conversations) asked key retailers for their takes on the New York season.

Many cried foul — they deemed the clothes too safe, too tried-and-true and simply too commercial, claiming that in this tough economy, it takes a wow factor to lure shoppers into stores.

But therein lies the catch-22, no?
Affable. That's the best term to describe New York Yankees shortstop and captain Derek Jeter. Today, Jeter helped Movado launch a new collection of limited and special edition Movado Series 800 Derek Jeter Chronographs at the Four Seasons restaurant. With my four-minute interview time slot, I was permitted to ask the much-sought-after bachelor -- who has been linked with the likes of Mariah Carey, Jessica Biel and a host of other hot starlets -- just about anything.

A model backstage at Proenza Schouler.
Photo by Kyle Ericksen
Ever wondered what it would be like to step foot backstage at a New York fashion show?

If you're "on the list," a black-clad young woman wearing a designer dress and a headset will dangle a backstage pass in your direction. Mind the wires, stiletto-wearing onlookers, overdone TV personalities and the TV cameras (one false turn, and you'll get clocked in the head). Angling your way into the crowd and toward the lead hairstylist and makeup artist is not for the faint of heart, or the meek. 

You pretty much know your nomination speech wasn't all that great when even the conservatives supporting you decline to comment on its merits.

At the Vanity Fair/Google party Thursday night, Fred Thompson was heading toward the seafood bar when he was asked what he thought of John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. "I'm just enjoying the party," he said.

If you came to the Twin Cities looking for action, the opening of the Republican National Convention has left a lot to be desired.

Partly, it's that things on Wednesday were only just beginning to get back to normal after Hurricane Gustav wreaked more damage on the political calendar than the State of Louisiana. And partly, it's because there just don't seem to be as many must-attend events as there were in Denver with the Democrats.

A longtime fan of Olympic gymnastics, I jumped at the chance to talk to gold medalist Nastia Liukin, who lives and trains only minutes from Dallas.

Liukin didn't disappoint: She was so mature and grounded during our talk that it was startling.  As she pointed out, her years of global travel and rigorous training have provided perspective beyond her 18 years. Still, the sudden celebrity and attention from strangers has her slightly unnerved.

"I think my Dad is a little more freaked out than I am," she said. "People are showing up at our door. It's a little scary."

Liukin and her parents live in a newly built home in Parker, which is a bit more rural than suburban Plano, where she grew up from the age of 3. So when a random family rang the bell recently, Liukin was surprised. "They said, 'We didn't think you'd be home! We just wanted to say we had been to your house. Would you autograph our Mapquest directions?' It's weird. I was thinking, how did you get my address?"

I couldn't resist exploring some gymnastics stereotypes. Like, is her diet restricted?

"I kind of eat the things I know are good for me," she said, giving credit to her parents, the former world-class gymnasts who coach her. "Whatever you put in your body is what you get out of it. So I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and protein and chicken. Nothing is really off limits. If I want to eat ice cream, I eat ice cream. A lot of people think gymnastics revolves around your weight, but I don't think so."

I was a little surprised that Liukin, who is obviously very strong, didn't have the muscle definition common among celebrities and fitness addicts. 

"I don't lift weights," she said. "For gymnastics, you want long, lean muscle. Everything we do is with our own body weight - climbing the rope, leg lifts, press handstands, 50 squat jumps and track, but only like two miles a couple times a week."

Liukin said she had little time to explore China, but loved the Olympic Village in Beijing.

"It was really cool to be able to walk around the village and see so many athletes who were all there for the same thing," she said. "One competition can unite the entire world together."

And, um, do you have the medals here? Could I see them?

She lifted the gold, three silver and one bronze medallion in a cluster from her tote bag, which bore a large peace sign. They're weighty and each one has a ring of jade on the flip side - white on the gold, pale green on silver, and black on bronze.

Does she feel like America's Sweetheart?

"I still feel like the same Nastia Liukin," she said. "Except now I have five Olympic medals."
Coming off the high-octane Democratic National Convention last week in Denver, I expected the Republicans to at least put on an energetic, if more subdued, political show.

But in the wake of Hurricane Gustav and the controversy swirling around the choice of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's choice as vice president, all the pizzazz was sucked out of the room. Even the red, white and blue balloons waiting in the rafters were a reminder that the anticipated party has not gone quite as planned.

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