You know, it's probably the new thing to be pregnant," the supermodel Karolina Kurkova has told New York magazine. "It's not to have the Chanel python bag. It's to be pregnant."
Hit & Run thought that women had been spawning for some time before spring/summer 2009. Nonetheless, pregnancy is certainly a trend among the world's most highly-paid catwalkers right now. Kurkova's colleagues Jourdan Dunn, Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum and Adriana Lima are all modelling bumps this season.
As facetious as she sounds, has Kurkova got a point? Is pregnancy really the new 'It' bag? Is flaunting a celebrity bump a bit like toting a YSL Roady or Mulberry Bayswater Clutch? To a degree. Both make your body ache (backache perhaps being worse than the 'handbag elbow'). When you're out on the town with a Chanel 2.55, people ask if they can stroke it – this, too, happens to women in the third trimester. A must-have bag inevitably causes others to cast covetous, misty-eyed glances in your direction; so it is with a baby-bump. Yet where Louis Vuitton's latest clutch might set you back a grand, the bump is free, at least at first. Furthermore, with the services of a decent agent, it can make you a fortune in Hello! covers and post-baby-body features.
And that brings us to the area in which a bump beats any bag, hands down. Ever since Demi Moore posed in the nude on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, pregnancy has been hot media currency for any female celebrity. With child, they get more column inches and merchandising deals. Of course, there's no suggestion that famous mothers calculate how much they might earn. But pregnancy need not mean loss in earnings. Look at Nicole Richie's maternity range and Mylene Klass's contract with Mothercare.
While Kurkova's comments aren't exactly enlightened, they do mark a surprisingly positive change in the career paths of models. It's crucial that these women feel that they are able to get pregnant at the height of their careers (19-year-old Dunn is on the brink of greatness; Klum is rumoured to have earned $15m last year, Bündchen $25m), and return to work. Pregnancy used to mean the end of a career, now it's a hiatus. And why shouldn't they return to their day jobs even slimmer and fresher than ever? In the world of fashion modelling it's extremely hard to make a comeback from pregnancy. But it can be done (look at Christy Turlington, mum-of-two and currently the star of YSL's ad campaign). If women whose reputations depend solely their physical appearance can make a comeback, so can we mortals.
Red faces all round
Perhaps an emergency application of after-sun (what a thought) left Peter Mandelson looking tanned but not lobster-like yesterday as he returned from his Corfu holiday sporting chinos and blue suede loafers.
Because last week the "Prince of Darkness" had turned an angry scarlet hue as he lorded it on a Greek beach with a similarly well-done Jacob Rothschild. And so the First Secretary of State and Gordon Brown stand-in joined the summer roll call of pigmentally-challenged sun seekers, appearing somewhere between Simon Cowell and Michael Winner on the man-tan colour chart. Will they never learn? Looking like a mahogany sideboard is one thing but, leaving to one side the very real risk of skin cancer, it has never been cool to be pink.
Peter Hain, the former Work and Pensions secretary, was a big sun man but at least the "Cuprinol Kid" knew how to bypass the faux pas that is the crimson phase. And who doesn't? If tanning's your thing, it really isn't that hard to avoid becoming the fool by the pool. And Mandelson, of all people, should know better. In 2005, during his time on the European Commission, Mandy had a hand in the Optical Radiation directive, which would have required employers to protect builders and postmen, among others, from the rays of the sun. But after uproar in the red-tops, which feared that Bavarian barmaids might have to wrap up (The Sun launched a "Save our Jugs" campaign), the "natural light" bit of the directive was dropped. Perhaps Mandelson should give his chums in Brussels a call and have it reinstated – purely for his own protection.
The posh pastime that's still flying high
Tomorrow is the Glorious Twelfth, a day that isn't nearly so glorious if you're a wild grouse, flapping at 80mph over the moors. For some time after dawn, over the horizon will appear the season's first shooters, intent on bringing down your grousey behind. They've paid for the honour: demand for grouse-shooting is soaring. And so are the costs. Super-rich clients will this year pay £130-140 (before tax and commission) for each pair of birds they kill.
Neither has the race to get the first birds from the moors and on to a dinner plate tomorrow night slowed in recession. Harrods say that "weather permitting" it will be sold the same day. At Rules in Covent Garden, diners are advised to arrive late to have the best chance of dining on a bird that manager Ricky McMenemy calls "quite delicate and pink, not the robust meat it becomes if you hang it." That'll be £27, for a single grouse, with chips, bread sauce, portion of jelly and another, presumably, of choicest carbon footprint...