Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer In The City, God Help Us...

DAHLINGS -

As the old cliche goes, "the heat is on." Sweltering temperatures, humidity, extremely interesting smells; all that makes one flee to New York for the Hamptons, which I shall be doing soon. To my fabulous (featured in Architectural Digest) beachfront home. But for the nonce I am here.

Unfortunately, so are other New Yorkers. The heat must be affecting their minds, because I am seeing body parts--or more to the point, bodies--that were never meant to be gazed upon outside of their abodes. Particularly the homme variety.

Dear readers, you know me as a woman of broad mind and loose morals, but mon dieu! Why in God's name is there a direct equation between the fitness of a man's torso and the amount of clothing he wears in the heat?

1.) Extremely fit - baggy shorts and sleeveless t-shirt
2.) Fairly fit - baggy shorts and tight-shirt
3.) Flabby - tight shorts and "wife-beater" t-shirt (pardon the phrase, I did not coin it!)
4.) Obese - nearly non-existent shorts and no shirt whatsoever

Spend some time walking down the Upper West Side of New York, or in any park, and you will see what I mean. The more flesh, the less clothing. You also know me as a champion of the plus-sized. But, mes amies, if one desired to gaze upon hairy bellies and flopping hairy breasts, one would go to the gorilla exhibition at the Bronx Zoo.

At least the gorillas are not allowed to smoke cigars.

Speaking of clothing (quite a segue, don't you think?), here is some vintage menswear available at my Ebay store, Elisa's Bodacious House of Style. And some other mens' items soon to be listed.

Vintage 80s mens' chambray sport coat:


Vintage mens' houndstooth Lord & Taylor sport coat:


Liberty of London ties, one silk, the other cotton:



Coach belt with pouch:


Must run - my assistant has gotten her babydoll dress caught in the shredder again. Idiot!

Ciao,
Elisa and Bucky the Wonderdog

Friday, June 15, 2007

Adventures In Los Angeles, cont.

DAHLINGS -

Los Angeles is a most interesting city, so unlike my dearly beloved New York. For one thing, as everyone knows, people live in their automobiles (when they live in their automobiles in New York, it's a housing choice). Los Angeles has no center, and unlike here, if you refer to "downtown," everyone gets quite afraid.

My companion and I had dinner at Musso Franks, a lovely relic of old Hollywood (rather like Elliot Gould, who I met briefly at the Ocean's Thirteen premiere). It seemed like we spent most of every day driving from place to place. When I suggested we walk to a restaurant only a few blocks from my companion's mansion, he stared at me as if I were insane. Walk? What did walk mean?

You'd think he was the one in four inch stiletto heels. Well, he was, but not in public.

I fear that in a few years Angelenos will have toilets installed in their car seats, so that they don't ever have to get out of their Beemers. I mean, there are drive-through banks, dry cleaners, wedding chapels, hardware stores...why stand up at all?

There is even a trolley in the middle of the Farmer's Market on Gilmore Street, to save you the trouble of strolling ten feet from Banana Republic to Anthropologie. Nonetheless, the high point of my visit (besides standing next to George Clooney) was a visit to Decades, that vintage store of legend, on Melrose Avenue.

Cameron Silver, the owner, was clearly aghast at my robust proportions (apparently they rarely carry anything above a size six). However, he did show me many beautiful Birkin bags and other accessories. This is one of my pet peeves with many vintage stores...if you are larger than a modern size eight, you are out of luck.

Hence my store, of course. If only Chanel had had the foresight to design for larger women, the world would be a better place. But I digress.

In all, the weather was superb, the conversation superficial, and I had a lovely time. The best way to put it would be that it was a vacation for my intellect.

And of course, I am now reunited with Bucky! He lost quite a bit of weight while I was gone, poor thing, but this morning I had the maid rub him down with Shea dog butter and his coat is nice and shiny. If a bit on the sticky side.

Ciao,
Elisa and Bucky the Wonderdog

Friday, June 08, 2007

MEG CABOT And Moi, The "Blog Tour"

DAHLINGS –

At last, Meg Cabot found the time to meet with yours truly for her "blog tour", just before I was whisked off to California by my gentleman friend.

It was not exactly what I had expected…yours truly had composed a number of questions, working unusually hard, at least for moi. But then the publicist informed me that Ms. Cabot would only answer FIVE. (This was, of course, the same day that we were to meet.)



Your faithful correspondent was not exactly thrilled, but one must roll with the punches. So that meant we would not discuss readers’ questions about “The Princess Diaries.” My apologies for asking you to send them in. However, you can find a great deal of information on her website, http://www.megcabot.com/.

One online biography claims that she is able to write an entire novel per month, so presumably I could have interviewed her for at least six weeks without staying on a single topic. But Ms. Cabot did answer more than five questions, as you shall see.

As is obvious from her stature in the industry (fame, not height), Ms. Cabot is an extremely canny woman, adept at giving her readers what they want. And that includes her image, which is quite a bit more, er, folksy than I expected. Be that as it may, I put on my Leslie Stahl hat (a wide-brimmed red straw) and we began.

Elisa: I read Queen of Babble and quite enjoyed it, particularly the sections about vintage clothing, and your depiction of the French countryside. (And a sex scene in a wine cellar is certain to win points with moi.)

Meg: Thanks! You'll find a lot more vintage clothing references, as well as an entire plot built around Lizzie's attempt to start her own vintage wedding gown restoration business, in the sequel to Queen of Babble, Queen of Babble in the Big City, which comes out June 26 (Editorial aside: subtly done plug, don't you think?).

Elisa: As I have often stated here, Vintage clothing is Fashion In The True Sense. I particularly appreciated that you put your heroine, Lizzie, in an Alex Colman dress, as that is a designer very rarely mentioned anywhere.

(I myself am in possession of quite a few Chanels, Vionnets, and a rare Balenciaga gown under glass that if anyone tries to touch, Bucky the Wonderdog is trained to attack on sight. The trespasser, not the Balenciaga. But I digress. )

My first questions concern your absolutely terrifying productivity. (Editorial note: I refrained from asking if she uses performance enhancing drugs, as they refer to them in the sports world.)

Your faithful correspondent can hardly keep up with this blog. I mean, forty books, Ms. Cabot?? For kids, teens and adults? How to explain to the endless fountain of prose running from your computer?

Meg: Well, I can't really. I've just always loved to write, and have been doing it as a hobby since I was seven. Now I get paid to do it. Which is really just icing on the cake! (Editorial aside: quite expensive icing, one imagines.)

Elisa: Is it some sort of supernatural automatic writing, channeling a writer from beyond? (I am quite a fan of séances; in fact I met one of my best friends, dear dead Lana Turner, at one.)

Meg: Ha. Not that I'm aware of. A lot of effort goes into writing each book and I will admit around page 150 I don't ALWAYS feel like doing it anymore and want to quit and start working on something new, so it would be really nice if a ghost or something finished it up. But so far that's never happened.

Elisa: I’d recommend Lana, but all of her plot knowledge is pre-1945 and you would certainly never have a sex scene in a wine cellar. Is there a disadvantage to being so productive?

Meg: I've heard occasional complaints about glutting the market. These don't tend to come from readers, however, but rather from other people in the industry. But that's their problem, not mine.

Elisa: Back to your novel, Queen of Babble. You write about vintage women's clothing with the feeling of the True Believer. Did you have to do a great deal of research, or has vintage clothing long been an interest of yours?

Meg: I have been collecting vintage since the mid-eighties. I will admit Cyndi Lauper and Madonna were huge influences, as was Desperately Seeking Susan! (Editorial aside: no comment.)

Elisa: Ms. Cabot, as you know, I am a fabulously plus-sized woman with a creamy decolletage', long legs, and naturally golden hair. In my blog I feel it is my duty-no, my calling-to combat the fashion industry's obsession with gauntness. And I make it a point to sell larger-size vintage for the more fully endowed female.

At the beginning of Queen of Babble, Lizzie Nichols has lost 30 pounds, and much is made of her changed looks. She is mistaken for some person named Jennifer Garner, and is mortified that one of her boyfriends remembers her as fat. I well understand that being on the heavy side would make it impossible to fit into a Lilly Pulitzer bikini. But, I was puzzled by why this was so important to the plot. What are your feelings about young women's' body images and the message a book like this sends them?

Meg: Well, as I'm sure you know if you're at all familiar with my body-not to mention my body of work (my Heather Wells mystery series featuring a plus-size sleuth, Size 12 Is Not Fat, Size 14 Is Not Either, and the upcoming sequel, Big Boned), I too am a larger gal at five feet eight who has at times has topped two hundred pounds on the scale (and no, I've never been pregnant), so I know whereof I speak. It's really crappy how hard it is to find pretty designer clothes in large sizes.That's why I learned to sew-I had to alter all the shrinky-dink vintage size 4s I was finding (ah, the things you can do with a well placed panel).

Having been both large and not so large, I can attest that people DO treat you differently when you're large vs. not large. And it's not right, nor is the constant bombardment we receive of Thin is Best. Because it simply isn't true. (Editorial aside: note how gracefully Ms. Cabot has not directly answered my question and managed to plug three more books! Mon dieu, I am in awe.)

Elisa: Do you genuinely feel that a young woman has to be slender to be eligible for her Prince Charming?

Meg: You're really asking a happily married former size 18 that? A true Prince Charming is one who loves you no matter what your size.

Elisa: Given her adoration of food, will Lizzie be able to stay slender in future installments? Somehow the French chocolate sandwich stays in the mind.

Meg: No. Thank God. In the sequel, Queen of Babble in the Big City, Lizzie gains back the weight, and consequently finds herself in quite a different predicament than she is in Queen of Babble. Although--spoiler for Book 3, Queen of Babble Gets Hitched, due out next summer--she may not realize who her true Prince Charming is until it's almost too late.

Elisa: Thank you for your time, Ms. Cabot. I recommend Queen of Babble to my faithful readers. It is an amusing light read, as they say nowadays. And vintage lovers will simply drool over the descriptions of the clothes!

Meg: Well, thank you! And if they liked Queen of Babble, they'll love Queen of Babble in the Big City, due out in just two weeks!

I bade Ms. Cabot a gracious farewell. And then, dizzy from the sheer amount of marketing whizzing around for the last half hour, I collapsed on the divan.

Forty books...as my maid would say, dios mio.

Ciao,
Elisa and Bucky the Wonderdog

Rubbing Elbows With George Clooney in Los Angeles

(Hello, this is Ms. DeCarlo’s personal assistant. She sent me this message several days ago, but I didn’t get to it until today. I TRIED to change the date at the top, but it wouldn’t let me. She’s going to kill me when she finds out. And that damn dog of hers snaps at me when it’s time to walk him. What have I done to deserve this job?)

DAHLINGS –

You will scarce credit this, but I am dictating this from fabulous Los Angeles, California. I had not planned to leave New York City.

But then a longtime male friend of some intimacy, who is quite well known in the film industry, BEGGED me to accompany him last night at the Hollywood premiere at the Kodak Theater of “Ocean’s Thirteen,” starring George Clooney (the only man I would kick Chris Noth out of bed for), Brad Pitt, and many other people of far lesser importance. Oh, and Al Pacino, who looks truly frightening in real life.



In reality, I first glimpsed Mr. Pacino a few hours before the premiere, when Hollywood Boulevard was still far from crowded and the sun was still out. He was whisked out of a limousine far from the fans just as my friend and I happened to be passing by...at first I thought it was a little old lady in a tuxedo, but then I realized it was the immortal Scarface himself...you can see for yourself above the wonders of Hollywood makeup artists.

About which more later. I wore a magnificent vintage Travilla, which had to be let out in a few places, but it was well worth it. Particularly when I got a good look at the movie executives’ wives. But George...ah, George! Words fail me. He looks a bit older than I expected, but then, who doesn't? (Except Bernadette Peters.)



We all had to mill about for a very long time...apparently George and his compatriots were putting their handprints in cement in front of Grauman's Chinese. Nice to know some traditions never die, isn't it?

(I wonder, is there is a store-room filled with large cement panels of has-been stars somewhere?)

In any event, did you know, Charlize Theron is utterly unable to change her facial expression? (She must be between pictures--no one could act with that much Botox in their visage). There were any number of beautiful women there, similarly unable to do much but smile, but I am afraid I cannot tell you who they were. Not because I have been sworn to secrecy, but because they had no distinguishing features, other than being beautiful and having oddly stony smiles. It reminded me of the night a male friend took me to a topless club in New York City.

There were women who could move their faces; they were the traffic controllers, as it were, the publicity assistants who ran back and forth in high heels and colorful little dresses with walkie-talkies announcing to their bosses which star was coming in which limousine.

As for the movie itself...but I promised you my interview with Meg Cabot, so the rest of my California adventure will simply have to wait. Bucky had to stay in New York…my gentleman friend is allergic to dogs. I miss my baby!

Ciao,
Elisa sans Bucky the Wonderdog