the Insiders


October 27, 2008 10:46 AM


Maria's Moment

maria-shriver.jpgLONG BEACH, Calif. -- Maria Shriver sure knows how to draw a crowd.

California's first lady lured a solid-gold list of figures from government, finance, culture and entertainment to her annual Women's Conference here on Wednesday to engage in the theme, "Architects of Change."

Sarah Palin
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When news broke that the Republican National Committee spent almost $150,000 of campaign donations to buy clothes for vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, there was no shortage of outrage. Democrats wondered aloud how the Republican ticket could "waste" so much money on clothes for a supposed "hockey mom" from Main Street, particularly after the GOP's attack machine had been so vituperative about John Edwards' $400 haircut.
Fashion brands may have been slow to discover e-commerce, but they aren't dragging their Louboutins when it comes to social networking.
October 22, 2008 9:26 AM


Still Sweet on L.A.

LOS ANGELES -- Fashion week has always been a hard sell here but its apparent demise --  at least in the current form -- won't change the perception of Los Angeles as a key stop on the fashion merry go-round.

David and Nicole Bouley.

At a time when even socialites have publicists, it was intriguing to find that superstar chef David Bouley worked more or less without one. Aiming to do an interview with him for his new Bouley restaurant, I went through the proper channels and called his main office. After a few days with no response from even an underling, I resorted to more direct methods: I called Bouley's wife, Nicole, on her cell phone (full disclosure: my co-worker had the number because her sister is working on a book with the Bouleys). And Nicole, as it turned out, was intimately involved in the project -- from buying antique doors with David in the South of France to handpicking artist Wouter Dolk to design the lobby's mural. She put me in touch with her husband.

Donald Trump for years has been the poster child for the confident developer. The Donald may be more bombastic and boastful than most, but he shares with other developers a high tolerance for risk and the audacity to believe his multibillion-dollar projects will succeed. But developers and real estate executives don't seem so self-assured these days. With the global economy in free fall, their world decidedly changed from one of plenty -- available capital, myriad retail concepts, willing partners -- to one of scarcity. "The deals we hear about are dying," said a Manhattan-based retail broker. "My clients' sales are off. They don't want to go forward with anything now."

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