Hit & Run: Society pages
Tuesday 03 March 2009
If a girl's already got her own successful fashion line, contemporary art gallery, billionaire boyfriend and knockout good looks, what else could she possibly wish for? The editorship of a glossy magazine, of course. Dasha Zhukova, 27, girlfriend of Roman Abramovich, has just been appointed editor of cult style magazine Pop.
And before you ask whether Zhukova knows her cover lines from her standfirsts, Pop's editorial director, Ashley Heath, has already stressed that she has been hired for her impeccable contacts. "She can just pick up the phone and get really fantastic people," says Heath. No one in mediaworld disputes the value of good contacts. Yet "good" won't cut the mustard among the Hollywood-and-high-fashion obsessed glossies. The agents and publicists representing the most in-demand stars have swarms of charming editors to choose from when it comes to getting the best cover for their talent.
Zhukova brings with her a special advantage – a contacts book that's already bulging with photogenic mates who will immediately agree to taking part in shoots and revealing interviews. This isn't a significant about-turn for the title, which was set up by wunderkind stylist Katie Grand in 2000. Grand's ability to persuade the likes of Victoria Beckham and Elizabeth Hurley into unconventional cover poses made Pop a success – and in time conferred a sort of celebrity on Grand, too.
There is no doubt that brilliantly talented editors can themselves ascend the heights of celebrity– see Anna Wintour and Graydon Carter of US Vogue and Vanity Fair respectively. But this pair have the juggernaut of Condé Nast behind their every move. Lesser titles rely on an editor's ingenuity and charisma alone – so simply cutting to the chase and hiring a celebrity as a figurehead makes sense. Zhukova's appointment means the rest of the Pop team can get down to the nitty-gritty of actually putting a magazine together. Just as Pop has old hand Heath keeping a close eye on production, so Peaches Geldof's latest project, the magazine Disappear Here, has Loaded founder James Brown pulling the strings and capitalising on her celebrity clique.
The PR benefits certainly outweigh the disadvantages. Last week, the US monthly Pasadena announced that it has hired former 90210 actress Shannen Doherty as its art director – who outside of California had ever heard of the title before her appointment? "Shannen's always been interested in magazines," said the actress's spokeswoman, "She's learning how tough it can be, but it's just a creative outlet."
Some unkind websites may be sneering that Doherty had to take the job because she can't get acting work, but infamy often has as much currency as fame itself. Next month: Johnny Borrell takes over the NME, Princess Beatrice is appointed Tatler editor and Jennifer Aniston shakes things up at Grazia. Sophie Morris
Shampoo to get athletes in a lather
Is this the strangest ad yet? Alpecin, a new "caffeine shampoo" marketed as a solution to hair loss, is being touted as "Doping for YOUR hair". Execs at Alpecin presumably thought a joke about drug abuse in sport would really hit the spot – each bottle carries a warning apparently aimed at athletes who might be worried about failing a drugs test after lathering their heads. It's that potent, goes the subtext, and indeed, a report published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that caffeine can block the effects of a chemical known to damage hair follicles. Last year the hair loss panacea Propecia was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances. The exposure of several top sportsmen as users did the drug's reputation no harm at all. Clearly, Alpecin want their product to have the same "buzz". Rob Sharp
Prada wades into a socioeconomic debate
It's rare that fashion comes up with anything both practical and timely, but Miuccia Prada's autumn/winter collection, shown in Milan on Sunday night, did just that. Models stalked the catwalk in thigh-high waders made from nappa leather – just the thing for picking one's way through the piles of economic effluence and bankers' corpses.
Fashion's austere look first poked its head above water a year ago, and it suited the rising tide of economic ruin. Since then, though, most designer collections have remained resolutely flippant, optimistic or even overtly glam. But Mrs Prada's show returned her brand to its minimalist, serious roots, with tweed skirt suits and Land Girls-style coats in drab hues. "It was about a need for feminine empowerment," she said. Hot on the heels of Posh's masochistic trip to a funfair in five-inch Louboutins, the waders look appealing – they could do for stiletto-addicted celebs what the cultural revolution did for foot-binding.
Waders also speak of country pursuits. "I didn't want to do anything about the city," Prada said. "City girl glamour – that's not about feeling alive." It's also not where the cash is any more; this look is more suited to old money of the manor.
So is Miuccia Prada designing for a post-apocalyptic world? These waders will see you through the next round of floods, and will come in handy when Hull, Scarborough and Cleethorpes fall into the sea. And, of course, it'll be a well-heeled crowd at Glastonbury this year... Harriet Walker
Poker 'bots' hold all the aces
As the recession crime wave bites, reports are emerging of increasing numbers of scamsters cheating while playing online poker, earning up to £50,000 a year. By using poker "bots" (computers running special software and using deceitful names like "Steve" to masquerade as foolish drunk humans) they're fleecing honest, if foolish, drunk humans with names like Steve. Is this a shocking scandal? Well, if you're playing poker online, you're not sitting in the same room as your opponents. That has to be flawed. It's hardly the best way to practise your poker face and keep an eye on your opponent, is it? Rhodri Marsden
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