This fascinated journalist joined the former Emperor's Club VIP escort for dinner on Saturday, at the invitation of p.r. firecracker Kelly Cutrone, who has taken DuprÃ© under her wing this fashion week -- costing her a client in Yigal AzrouÃ«l, who was unhappy to find the former call girl in the front row of his show.
At dinner at L'Ulivo in the West Village, we were joined by DuprÃ©'s business manager, an attorney named David Kokakis, as well as several of Cutrone's employees, Cutrone's adorably impish five-year-old daughter, Ava, and her nanny. Despite her image as a bitchy, domineering boss on MTV's two "reality" shows, "The Hills" and "The City," Cutrone has rather maternal instincts towards her young employees -- often cooking for them at her home -- and those tendencies were apparent in her relationship with DuprÃ©.
"Look, some friends of mine asked me to meet Ashley because she is interested in the music biz. I met her and liked her. She's 23 -- I'm 43 and old enough to be her mother -- but I saw this girl who has gone through a really difficult experience and I wanted to help her," explained Cutrone, referencing the Eliot Spitzer scandal. "She's super sweet, and I thought I'd bring her to some shows this week."
After the firestorm of controversy erupted over DuprÃ©'s presence at the AzrouÃ«l show, Cutrone said she was genuinely taken aback and cried after a vitriolic phone call from the designer, who was angry that so much attention was paid to DuprÃ©, rather than his collection. Cutrone acknowledged the criticism, but was also defensive about the negative attitude toward DuprÃ©.
"Not everybody perceives her the same way. If it were the Marc Jacobs show, I think people would have thought it was genius," she noted of the designer, who in past seasons has invited jailbirds like Lil' Kim and Michelle Rodriguez to his shows.
DuprÃ©, on the other hand, was remarkably undefensive about her days and nights as a working girl, and did not shy away from talking about that chapter in her life. "I was living a double life, but that was just one small part of me, and that was private," she explained. "I've always wanted to pursue a music career and that is my passion."
DuprÃ© is currently in the studio with accomplished producers Peter Zizzo and Rob Fusari, at work on an album that should be out in January, and is also working on an autobiographical book. "A cautionary tale," she explained.
DuprÃ© moved back into Manhattan this past winter and lives by herself with a cocker spaniel, after hunkering down at her parents' home in New Jersey for a year, following the Spitzer scandal. Asked where she lived in New Jersey, DuprÃ© said "Exit 98." Cutrone said that should be the name of her album.
DuprÃ© confided that she does not go out very often in New York -- fashion shows notwithstanding -- as she is trying to lay low because she is still recognized in public. (Upon entering L'Ulivo, a woman in a towering bouffant pointed at Cutrone and loudly whispered, "There's the woman from 'The Hills.'" Her tablemate then pointed at DuprÃ© and replied, "And that's the girl who slept with Eliot Spitzer.")
After dinner, around midnight, our entire party piled into two cabs and rode over to the offices of an avant-garde fashion magazine in the Meatpacking District, whose editor wanted to meet DuprÃ© and talk to Cutrone about the AzrouÃ«l uproar. The editor, who is European, could not see the scandal in a former escort attending a fashion show. Over glasses of Grey Goose vodka and Marlboro cigarettes, Cutrone and the editor analyzed the provincial morality of people who would be bothered by such a thing -- but also forbid this reporter from revealing the identity of the editor.
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Cutrone and the editor then decided a fashion spread starring DuprÃ© would be a brilliant idea, and the editor pulled out a digital camera and started shooting test shots on the spot. DuprÃ© eagerly posed and pouted her lips expertly. Cutrone rattled off some fashion brands that would be perfect for the former escort to represent in ads. (American Apparel anyone?)
DuprÃ©'s manager, Kokakis, looked mildly worried, but smiled at the slightly surreal proceedings. A star is born?