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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

The Party Princess

By LEAH McLAREN
Globe and Mail
Monday, Sep. 8, 2003

Thank God it's nearly over. I'm just so BORED by it all -- the shoes, the small-talk, the standing-up dinners of champagne and sweaty smoked salmon. Oh, when will I be able to escape this tedious hellscape of sequins and men in black blazers known as the Toronto International Film Festival? Actually, come to think of it: Today. For me, the whole thing is over as of today, and not a moment too soon for my T-zone.

The crankiness had already taken hold on Tuesday night when I arrived (looking amazing -- obviously) on the arm of my friend T, at the Holt's Flick event. There was some embarrassing confusion at the door as to Who I Was, and I nearly lost it.

"Look," I said to the rapidly blanching door girl, "I'm trying to come to a party at your store. Where I shop. Everyday."

"I understand, madam, and I'm sorry about the wait, but the problem is I don't have the media list at this desk."

"All right, well could you use that little radio to call the publicist and tell her the Party Princess is leaving to go to the InStyle party instead?"

We were ushered in warmly after that. Inside, the lights were blazing, and the drinks came on trays held by gold-dusted boys in aviator shades. It was crowded, like a Boxing Day sale (or so I've heard), except without a discount. I immediately looked around for a new thing to whine about. Kim Cattrall was laughing into a rack of Marni dresses at a joke that a bald, fat, rich-looking man had made. Just as I opened my mouth to whine about how disappointing her outfit was, one of my colleagues appeared. Actually it was the small, stylish woman who likes to think of herself as my "Boss."

"Look," she said, pointing to a puffy, pink man with Beethoven hair. "It's Graydon Carter [the editor of Vanity Fair]. You're the Party Princess. Go talk to him."

"Do I have too?" (Finally, something legitimate to whine about!) "I have nothing to say."

"Oh don't worry, you won't have to say much."

Thus assigned, I approached. Soon enough we were introduced.

"How do you do?" he said.

"Okay, I guess."

He looked at me expectantly. For a moment I was afraid he was going to suggest I pose for the cover of Vanity Fair, which would have been a disaster, as I'm not doing any more press this season. I decided to let him down easy.

"Look, my boss told me I should talk to you but I really have nothing to say."

"Oh."

We looked at each other with mutual discomfort.

"Well, a lovely night, isn't it?" he said.

I shrugged. The man was going to have to try harder if he wanted to sustain my interest in this little exchange.

"Typical. Editors," he said, jabbing his nose toward my boss. I forgot myself and smiled. Finally, a little sympathy! Suddenly: a shriek from behind the Cavelli display. I ran over. There was T. Oh God, it was too awful.

"Honey," I whispered. "Is it broken?"

"I think so," she whimpered bravely, holding up a detached high heel.

I turned around and glared at one of the gold-dusted boys. "Don't just stand there. Can't you see this is an emergency? Get a personal shopper over here NOW."

Within moments my Holt's personal shopper Christina had whisked the two of us over to the shoe department where she picked out a nice sturdy pair of Chanel pumps, as T sat on a bench drinking champagne. Out of sympathy, I bought a pair of Pradas. So you see, partying in a department store does have its perks after all.

The retail theme continued on Wednesday night at the US magazine party hosted by Roots. Walking in I was struck by a strange sight: Tables, upon tables, of thoroughly edible food. For the first time in two weeks the Party Princess feasted on plump oysters, sweet cold prawns and buttery sashimi. After weeks of waving away trays of revolting spring rolls, I had almost forgotten the pleasure of real sustenance. Leave it to the boys at Roots to know the way to a true Princess's heart.

Happily nourished, I carried on to the Hugo Boss party deep in the heart of Yorkville. After being whisked through a leafy courtyard and into a private showroom, I found myself seated beside fellow It girl, the actress Chloë Sevigny (the party was in honour of her new movie, Shattered Glass).

A bright light blasted through the room, and everybody looked over at a black-haired woman with twigs in her hair who was being interviewed by a TV crew.

"Who's that?" Chloë asked.

"Oh that's Tea Leoni," said somebody.

"Who?"

"Oh you know, she was in Wayne's World and now she has a bad TV show. And she used to date Tie Domi from the Toronto Maple Leafs," I said confidently.

"No silly," said someone else. "You're thinking of Tia Carrere."

"Oh, whatever," I said.

Is the festival over yet?



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