The barely-there line between couture, porn

Excursion to parties in Fashion Week proves revealing

Observations

February 23, 2003|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,Sun Staff

There we were outside the Fashion Week tent at Bryant Park in New York, shivering with nervous anticipation, five people preparing to go somewhere many men wouldn't even dare dream about.

That night, we had gold in our hands -- two invitations, to be precise. One to a Valentine's Day bash given by stars from the adult cinema; the other to a Victoria's Secret lingerie party starring supermodels Giselle Bundchen and Heidi Klum.

It was an inexplicable blip in the space-time continuum -- beauty and sleaze together on the same night, fashion and minimal clothing colliding in a strange bump-and-grind.

Actually, it was Fashion Week, and these parties just happened to fall on the same night. Nonetheless, our group of intrepid fashion show attendees felt we owed it to ourselves to venture into this uncharted territory.

For some time now, fashion has been embroiled in a mad flirtation with pornography. There always have been scantily clad models on the runway and in advertisements. Recently, however, we've seen full-frontal nudity in Yves St. Laurent perfume ads. Last year, the Imitation of Christ fashion show featured topless models vacuuming. And the Victoria's Secret runway show -- which 10.5 million Americans watched on CBS last November -- featured models in such tiny lingerie, sporting such sizzling come-hither looks, that all that separated it from soft porn was the lack of cheesy Muzak in the background.

On this night, we were determined to find the line between fashion and pornography -- if it still existed. So, we steeled ourselves, straightened our coats ... and stepped into a limo.

The first stop was Discotheque, a dance club in Manhattan's Flatiron district. The Valentine's Day party, put on by adult film company Vivid Video, was billed as a chance for actresses with names like Sunrise Adams (star of Barefoot Confidential #14) and Savanna Samson (Big Blow Out) to "mingle with their fans."

We had thought we'd be among the earliest with our 8:15 arrival. But the smoky, cavernous club already held several men lurking in dark corners holding beers and cocktails. They didn't seem to speak much and chose instead to intently watch the empty dance floor, apparently pondering the question of the hour: "Where are the porn stars?"

"The actresses will be here soon," a publicist assured us.

As the next hour passed, the men multiplied like bunnies, all with an unsettling hunger in their eyes.

Soon, the ratio of men to women seemed about 15 to 1. With the actresses' arrival now further delayed, we decided it was time to retreat to the relative safety of high-end lingerie.

The moment we entered the Victoria's Secret party -- to celebrate the launch of the new picture book, Sexy -- there was Giselle. And Heidi. In a mini.

The party had barely started, but the big stars already were there, cavorting before a camera, smiling at guests, occasionally engaging in a little banter. They giggled, they teased -- Heidi even pretended to flash a TV camera. Then suddenly, just as quickly, they made their exits.

So, we learned, there is a difference between the fashion and pornography scenes, no matter how blurred the line can seem at times. Perhaps it's due to their more extensive training as thespians, but the porn stars clearly understand the value of a buildup before a payoff. The adult actresses kept breathless fans squirming with anticipation. The all-business supermodels? They came in, got the job done and left in a flash.

Sunrise and Savanna, perhaps, could teach Giselle and Heidi a little about arriving fashionably late.

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