Paulo Szot

It’s Valentine’s Day, and a young lady’s thoughts naturally turn to lust ... Or do they?

At lunch with a group of women recently, topic A was, “Where have all the gorgeous men gone?” Our television screens and big screens are filled with men who look like they’d do a fine job rebooting our computers but do little for any other equipment.

Earth to Hollywood: Only in a vintage episode of the Twilight Zone, where aesthetic criteria have been turned on their heads, do attractive women hunger for pale, flabby men with jeans sagging below their pale, flabby bottoms.

In my personal quest for male splendor, I went to see Paulo Szot, the tenor whose Slavic good looks and South of the Border sensuality (he’s Polish, but Brazilian bred) launched a thousand sexual fantasies when he starred in the revival of South Pacific.

His booming tenor would be more suited to an outdoor amphitheater like the Terme di Caracalla in Rome than the carpeted confines of the Café Carlyle. But that said, he brought new life to Rodgers and Hammerstein classics like “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” ripped apart Cole Porter’s “So In Love,” and when he brought out the tango undertones of that old chestnut “Bésame Mucho,” you wanted to bésa-him mucho.

No, alas, dear reader, I did not go home with him. That’s MY Twilight Zone fantasy.

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Most perfumes come and go, but some stay with you forever. Fracas is one of those outstanding scents.

I can remember the first time I came into contact with it as a child, on my beloved aunt who still wears it.

So imagine my excitement when I heard that Douglas Hannant was launching his own perfume with the house of Robert Piguet, the great turn-of-the (19th-to-20th) -century French designer who launched Fracas in the 1940s.

I knew Douglas and his partner, Frederick Anderson, loved the original scent, as we'd talked about it in the past.

Douglas Hannant de Robert Piguet is indeed a delicious scent, and I believe it is destined to become a classic. The launch party, hosted by Geoffrey Bradfield at the Payne Whitney mansion, had everybody buzzing about this amazing new perfume.

"This is a fresher, younger Fracas," said Anderson. "We stayed with the same floral base and added pear to cut the sweetness at the top."

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Rachel Roy Kate Bett

I kicked off Fashion Week in high style by attending a luncheon in celebration of my friend Kate Betts’s new book about First Lady Michelle Obama’s evolving sartorial splendor, “Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style.”

Kate was kind enough to drag herself and her husband, Chip, to one of my readings at the now-defunct Barnes & Noble Lincoln Center (a moment of silence, please) in the dead of July. The least I could do was come out in support of her brilliant tome, which was celebrated in the far more glamorous environs of Bergdorf Goodman’s Kelly Wearstler–designed aerie/jewel box, BG Restaurant, overlooking Fifth Ave. to the east, and snow-covered Central Park to the north. Thirty-some stylish and substantive women gathered in the olive and gold back room.

The likes of Tory Burch, gloriously beautiful Iman, art powerhouse Thelma Golden, news diva Deborah Roberts, perennially elegant Marina Rust, Jennifer Creel, Veronica Bulgari, and Deeda Blair listened spellbound as hostess Tina Brown pithily described Mrs. Obama as having “the intellect of a Hillary Clinton with Jackie’s pearls on top.”

She then praised Kate as a crafter of perfect sentences. After a dessert of warm apple tart smothered in melting caramel ice cream, Kate, looking Hepburn-esque in a ruffled teal blouse paired with sleek black gabardine pants, joked that Tina obviously hadn’t read her latest Daily Beast article. She effortlessly placed Mrs. Obama in full cultural context, invoking Ebony Fashion Fair founder Eunice Johnson and hailing our current first lady as the woman who gives lie to the notion that style and substance are antithetical.


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Jacob Latimore Natasha Bedingfield

"I'm so scared right now," said a terrified Bonnie Morrison outside the IFC Cinema.

We had just finished seeing Vanishing on 7th Street, Brad Anderson's new apocalyptic thriller/horror film, hosted by Andrew Saffir's Cinema Society. I had to agree with Bonnie. The movie, about alien forces who remove people's bodies from the earth when they walk away from a light source, was a vintage-clothing lover's dream, as the bodies leave behind all manner of dresses, shoes, suits—you name it. I had to keep distracting myself with this thought so as not to get too spooked.

Shadows, darkness and whispers are a lethal combination as far as I'm concerned. A gold necklace here, a Manolo pump there (was it even Manolo?), strewn about the empty streets of Detroit. I also couldn't help but think of Eminem's Super Bowl ad; this was another giant fist bump for the city.

The after-party was at Beauty & Essex, a combination restaurant/lounge/store/pawn shop with amazing décor: a chandelier made entirely of pearls, a room decorated with framed lockets, an old cash register and fabulous costume jewelry for sale. It is hugely popular and chic right now.

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