After putting together a photography show focused on large-scale architecture, Douglas Friedman was looking for a new subject when about a month ago, an idea dawned on him. Well, maybe not dawned—more like sat on his lap, shimmied, and swung pasties in his face. “After big buildings, I thought I’d do big boobs,” said Friedman. And big they were. The pictures of contemporary burlesque stars Bambi the Mermaid, Dirty Martini, Jo Boobs, and Dr. Lucky that are currently lining the walls of Ruffian’s Garment District studio were taken at the downtown club Santos Party House at a tribute show to the late legendary dancer Liz Renay. Joining the photographer at last night’s opening were Anne McNally, Sophia Hesketh, Poppy Delevingne, and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, the last of whom was a little embarrassed that her own ensemble resembled one of the outfits in the pictures. “Is it weird that I have that outfit?” she asked, pointing to the Dirty Martini series. “I guess what I’m wearing is really appropriate—I love a theme.” But the photographs weren’t for everyone. “My dad came in and the first thing he said was that all the pictures were out of focus,” Friedman laughed.
Sartorially speaking, the thing I’ve noticed here is how this city’s chic set really latches on to a trend: I’ve seen so many Balmain shoulders I sometimes think I’m in a game of kinky, high-heeled touch football. And don’t even get me started about the fur chubbies. I mean, I knew that fur would be big here—but it’s, like, really big here. But just when I was convinced that this town took all its cues from Paris, I discovered it might also have the ability to subversively inspire a few trends of its own. Yesterday, a bunch of us piled onto a bus (I totally called the backseat) for a tour of the city, and a very chic thing happened when Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Byrdie Bell, and Sophia Hesketh tried to get into the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Because Restoin-Roitfeld was in a scandalously tight pair of leggings, Bell’s long hair was down, and Hesketh dared to expose her legs, all three had to nick their friends’ scarves—which naturally happened to be cashmere and from Vuitton or Burberry—and whip their legs and hair into looks that were both orthodox and surprisingly fashion-forward. That’s them outside the church in their layered glory. So the question is: After slap bracelets, will these ladies bring back the sarong? The more I think about it, the more I realize how appropriate a multitasking, two-in-one scarf skirt is for times like these. What’s more, it being mere days before HBO’s Grey Gardens premieres, there couldn’t be a better tribute to Little Edie, whose odd circumstances encouraged her to make convertible skirts of her own.
One of the questions people ask when they see the hefty price tags for Balmain’s tiny cocktail dresses is who exactly is buying this stuff. Well, I figured out the answer last night: rich Russian ladies. At a dinner for Dasha Zhukova’s museum in Moscow, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld thought she would represent the French label in a sparkly pink metal mesh number. (That’s her in the picture, though you should ignore the iridescent straps on her legs—those were a regretful late-night styling tip from a friend who found a storage of VIP slap bracelets at the after-party.) Too bad two Russian gals had already beat her to the punch: Aizel Trudel, a businesswoman who opened the Louboutin boutique here, showed up in the sparkly green number most recently seen on Jennifer Connelly; and Liza Molchanova, a housewife who wore a jacket often described as the Michael Jackson (think lots of sparkly bits and epaulets). Apparently, in this part of the world, there are whole factions of housewives who are desperate to get their hands on Balmain. “Like crack,” someone put it, which I think is a great analogy. So now that we’ve answered the question about where one finds all the world’s Balmain, it’s time for another one: How do I become a Moscow housewife?