We are not prepared for the amount of symbolic jewelry Taylor is about to wear to the Super Bowl.
Good day to all of my shrewd and stunning subscribers.
As we slip into the second month of this year, not much new or of note is going on over here at Mess HQ. I continue my feeble attempts at holding myself accountable to a schedule despite having less work on the horizon than ever before and not feeling stressed about it in the slightest, which is an extremely odd headspace to be in. Other than that, I’ve just been doing my usual daily rounds marching up and down the streets of Bushwick with my dog companion in tow. But this week we did take that quotidian stroll to a brand new venue. Fran and I went hiking with a troop of friends and their canines in the town that Martha Stewart built (Bedford). A solid kickoff to my tentative exploration of upstate New York as my potential future home, although if I want to live in that zip code I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to acquire a couple of millions first. However, that hamlet pop-in wasn’t about financial concerns, but rather all about the vibes which were WASPy and plentiful.
And because I don’t know where else to share a fantastic piece of information I acquired this week during my internet travels as it’s of interest to the teeniest, tiniest cross-section of the population, I’m just going to put it right here because what else are newsletters made for. Longtime readers know I am something of a Trisha Paytas fan and an avid listener of her podcast, and this week she was talking about how her husband’s artist friends are all so nice to her and one in particular told her that she loves her work and that what Trisha does isn’t just YouTube but performance art (which it fully is). And who was that nice friend slash fan of Trisha? CINDY FUCKING SHERMAN. My two problematic faves chit-chatting about their artistry without me present in the room feels like it should be illegal, but ok. At the very least, I need Interview to facilitate this conversation on the record immediately and if they need someone to hold the tape recorder I’d be happy to lend my services. I feel like I’ve been missing out on a lot of very important meetings of the minds lately. As I pointed out to paid subscribers the other week, I also recently uncovered a photo of Daniel Day-Lewis and Zac Efron lost deep in conversation at a National Review Board event and there too my presence feels desperately needed, if only to make sure High School Musical was a key part of that discussion.
This week, paid subscribers were also treated to a look at the 2003 Kids’ Choice Awards which were spectacular and spectacularly random, featuring Will Smith beating up SpongeBob, a professional red carpet thumb wrestler, and the most aughts shoes you’ve ever seen in your life. If you follow me on Twitter or Notes then you’ve likely already seen the trove of photos of famous people talking on a Hello Kitty phone I uncovered as part of the research for this newsletter. And if those photos have piqued your interest, there’s still plenty more gifting suite candids where those came from. I’m also putting a little bit more of a concerted effort into being active over on the Mess Instagram account because I realized that while I feel annoying posting dumb paparazzi pictures and celebrity jokes all the time on my personal account, Mess Worldwide was very much founded for this precise purpose and could also be a helpful tool in slowly weening myself off Twitter.
And finally, at the behest of too many of my IRL friends, today’s edition will once again be chopped in half with part two going behind the paywall because I am being told that these emails are WAY too long and I’m giving away all the proverbial milk for free. Apologies to the new subs amongst us who will not be getting the full magnum opus treatment the rest of you have become accustomed to! But if you ask really nicely, I’m always more than happy to slip a free subscription under the table.
Let’s get a gander.
Let’s begin with a retraction. I always try my best to kick off my rapport with a new celebrity couple on a positive note, giving them great kindness and benefit of the doubt that they are not staging this for clicks, but rather truly in love. And every single time I get burned. No more generosity of spirit will be coming forth from this newsletter. All famous people are now doing an elaborate PR stunt until proven otherwise. Because while they were taken in a very suspicious location (Sushi Park), I hoped that the first staged paparazzi images of Dua Lipa and her new beau Callum Turner were merely to confirm the rumors and display that they are in fact very hot and very hotly an item. But this week, another set of paparazzi images emerged that were staged in a way I find to be unforgivable. First of all, if you’re going to pretend like you did not call this photographer to take photographs of you and your new boyfriend, do not look dead in the camera and then proceed to makeout as if no one is watching. We know that you know we are watching. And for the thousandth time I must ask, if we are setting up photo shoot opportunities, can we not also stage the clandestine aspect of them? Can you not ask your paparazzi friend to hide behind a bush? Take the photo not five feet away from you while you linger awkwardly in a crosswalk waiting for the set up to be just right? I need a touch more acting from everyone involved. Also, here’s a free tip: put an actual beverage in your coffee cups. This is not a TV sitcom, I can see those are empty from here. I feel like the A-listers have gotten so flagrant with their fake photos lately (I’m looking at you, Ariana Grande) and if we have to keep doing this and pretending like it is all happenstance, I just want a little of the mystique back, or at least a little camp. If you’re going to shatter the tabloid illusion, at least toss us a wink while you’re staring down the telephoto lens! Also, I just feel like Dua is famous enough that if they make out in public, the cameras will come. What’s wrong with a grainy fan snap of these two pawing each other in the back of some bar? I know Dua’s got a new album to sell, but I just feel like these types of moments are going to be captured on film whether she calls the paparazzi or not, so why go to the trouble of making it so blatant and intentional?
As for the Megan Thee Stallion vs Nicki Minaj beef that monopolized all of our social media feeds this week — hilarious. Meg didn’t even say that woman’s name and a line about sex offenders has got her SPIRALING for days. Imagine tattling on yourself like that. Not that it was exactly a secret that Nicki has a very bizarre affinity for pedophiles and surrounding herself with them. I mean, family matters aside, who remembers when she tried to help Tekashi 69 make a comeback when he was facing prison time for the sexual exploitation of a child? I sure do. Also, Nicki needs to recall that a beef with a real female rapper has literally never ended well for her. The Black Friday and Shether receipts are right there (and a pure delight to listen back to, I will never forget where I was when Remy first revealed that Nicki’s ass popped). How many times does she have to be brutally bodied by her peers. And more importantly than the Nicki drama, I feel not enough people are speaking about the accusations Megan seemed to leverage against Drake and his BBL. A man who I will never let anyone forget sucks, also has a thing for grooming underage girls, and released a song accusing Meg of lying about being shot. I’m just saying, a fresh BBL seems right on brand for Drake and would really explain all those absolutely enormous pants we’ve been watching him drown in for the past couple of months…
Anyway, I didn’t actually come here to discuss this rap feud, but rather the fashion Meg unveiled in the music video for her song “Hiss” which alone proves that she is the real victor here. It’s like she synthesized years of Mess fodder into a singular mood board. Not only did we get the very Mugler-esque pasties with a fun hat, but we also got full areolae out in a top that looks like a cat got tangled up in a basket of yarn. Those who have been reading this newsletter from day one might recall that one of the trends I was keeping very close tabs on back in 2021 was the rise of tops made solely out of skeins of string. And after Noah Cyrus’s soft relaunch of the bumster legging last week, we now have Meg not only wearing her pants backwards and fully unbuttoned, but adorning the intergluteal cleft with a very large diamond pendant dangling betwixt the cheeks. Exactly the type of butt-centric creativity we’ve been waiting for!
As we get closer and closer to the Super Bowl, the celebrity campaigns are starting to become increasingly aggressive. And much like paparazzi photos, this year, the ads have also started breaking the fourth wall and I really don’t know how I feel about marketing becoming self-aware. On the one hand, I appreciate that they’ve given up the pretext of these stunts being organic as they were very bad at faking them to begin with, but on the other, much like the shots of Dua above, part of me wishes they were trying to keep that mise-en-scène magic alive by just staging them better. That said, I will take a photo of Donna Kelce gingerly carrying two slices of leftover pizza into the stadium to give her boys a snack however I can get it. And I would love to see the movie magic they rigged up inside of this bag that keeps this prop Ziploc box so perfectly dangling over the edge of the tote so that the brand name is fully visible at all times. I’m also very curious about the legal and financial logistics of the image of Pete Davidson on the right. Because he’s wearing this shirt as part of a campaign for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (a response to the commercial they released starring Kate McKinnon), and yet this photograph is being taken by a real Getty Images photographer. So are they going to license this photo for future ad use, or is the contract simply to wear the shirt out in public and this is just some lucky PR collateral? And when other publications then use this image of Pete do they have to disclose that it is in fact an #AD? Will the FCC ever catch up with the major disclosure violations actively happening under their nose? The answer to that is obviously a hard no, but still an interesting little legal loop-dee-loop going on here!
In other winning campaign news, Brandon Blackwood is the latest brand to prove that really all it takes to innovate the medium these days is just a little peek outside of the traditional Kardashian casting bubble. Because I can’t even express to you the genius of casting Shera Seven for a Valentine’s Day collection. For those not familiar with Shera and her work, clearly you haven’t been on TikTok in the last year because she is a ubiquitous force on that platform. Fans and haters alike love to call her the female Andrew Tate, and while I get the comparison given the cult-like devotion she’s inspired teaching women how to finesse rich men, at the same time she is sooo much smarter and funnier than that man could ever even dream of being. She has a Dorothy Parker-caliber quip for every question posed to her. Plus, all she’s espousing is some classic, no-fucks-given, gold-digging misandry whereas Tate wasn’t just preaching being a violent misogynist, he was also charged with rape, human trafficking, and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women. Not exactly comparable. Anyway, I find Shera and her *sprinkle sprinkle* philosophy to be a delight, but then again I’ve always loved a woman who takes the patriarchy she was given and figures out how to subvert it to her own immense benefit, especially when it involves getting old men to buy you diamonds. I can’t think of a better spokesperson for the Valentine’s Day industrial complex.
Meanwhile, I just need to know how Calvin Klein fumbled the Idris Elba bag this badly. I get that they have a fashion line that they need to sell in addition to the underwear, but how do you take this many fully-clothed photos of an international heartthrob and not try to squeeze even one shirtless snap in there? Why has this man not gotten the full Jeremy Allen White treatment, and how did they not come up with this casting concept eight years ago when the Idris thirst was at its height? The advertorial struggle for relevance is real.
We started talking a little bit about sports-inspired fashion in this week’s Ye Olde Mess because I noted that it was interesting to see how rampant basketball jerseys were on the 2003 Nickelodeon red carpet as that type of apparel is coming back into style right now in a very different way, 20 years on and obviously right in the midst of the aughts revival. That said, I find the active white-washing of these fashions that’s currently going on to be incredibly frustrating. I have seen so much breathless coverage from the media in recent weeks about how Kristin Juszczyk (the WAG on the left) is making team merch chic for the girlies for first time ever……….as though she is not standing on the backs of thousands of rap and R&B icons that came before her. As though Black women have not been doing this very aesthetic for decades only to be met with derision. Like Mariah Carey’s Wizards jersey evening gown never existed. Like Mya didn’t have every woman trying to tailor a North Carolina Tar Heels jersey into a mini dress after “Best of Me (Part 2)” came out. Those women just didn’t have the backing of an official NFL licensing deal, and I think we all know why. Anyway, not surprising, just disappointing as ever.
Since I’m just fully airing my petty grievances at this point (what’s new), I have one more point of contention to get off my chest which is: the “Lyst Index” is not a real thing. So many outlets and celebrities talk about this Lyst Index as though it is some definitive, legitimate ranking, like the Billboard chart of fashion or something. But these are based exclusively off of searches Lyst users are doing, which is obviously an incredibly limited data set compared to what brands people are googling/engaging with/following more broadly. Like, do you even use Lyst? Because I certainly do not. At the same time, I’m sure this isn’t so far off from the truth of what’s most coveted right now, I just think it’s so interesting the way Lyst conned their way into being treated like the authority on brand success in our industry.
I’m sure I’ve seen a celebrity wearing this Louis Vuitton leather smock before (I want to say Sophie Turner), but I had to highlight it again because there’s something about this luxe dentist x-ray lead apron that never gets old for me. Honestly, Ana de Armas got off easy with this outfit, she’s just lucky LV didn’t unleash the giant zips on her.
Now this is fascinating because has anyone in the history of Madame Tussauds ever had a wax figure that actually looked more animated than they do in real life? I would fully believe this is the real Anna Wintour sitting in the FROW at a fashion show except that she looks just a little too rosy-cheeked and pleased to be there. But actually the most unbelievable part of this sculptural facsimile is the outfit because while they did a good job attempting to replicate this one, I can tell these are made of a lesser quality material than the Chanel tweeds and fine lambskins Anna is accustomed to and she simply would never deign to let this fabric touch her flesh.
Now this is the level of absurd opulence I crave. As I’ve told you time and time again, if we must suffer the existence of the extraordinarily rich, I need them to use their riches in only the most foolish and grotesque manner possible, and Lisa Vanderpump’s pearl dog leash certainly fits that bill. I hope they’re real freshwater Mikimotos. And the fact that we all know that this dog’s feet absolutely never touch the ground just makes it all the better. This also reminds me that I saw that T magazine article about fancy dog beds this week, and I’m sorry but Fran needs that Versailles-approved silk crate slip cover immediately. Not like I would ever pay for anything like that, but I am genuinely considering teaching myself how to sew just in order to make one so she can be the coquette doggy influencer I know she was always born to be.
All of the above also just makes me feel even more strongly that, as I told Sloppy Seconds readers a couple weeks ago, we need the divas back more desperately than ever. Where is the absurdist glamour! The camp grandeur?! It’s like everyone’s lost their taste for the spectacular foolish flex. There is an artistry to being this wasteful and lavish and the girls today just don’t have it (save for Mariah Carey, of course, our last true diva). This came up in the paid newsletter because we were discussing Aretha Franklin hiring three makeup artists to do her makeup for a singular event and how the headline was trying to make that sound like a bad thing when it’s obviously the most fabulous thing she could’ve possibly done in that scenario. I’m suddenly understanding why I’m a Trisha fan, she might be the last celebrity on earth who knows how to be rich in a genuinely fun way.
Now, something I did not foresee happening to me this week is being absolutely read to filth by NYC’s favorite It-girl, but here we are. And you know what, for as Cruella de Vil as it may sound, she’s not wrong! But I do feel like people are taking this statement a touch too literally. To me, this doesn’t feel like a dig specifically at the Lululemon-clad, dog-toting ladies amongst us (i.e. me, but the leggings are off-brand) so much as a broader critique of a certain deeply bland PR/finance demographic that is taking over Manhattan and attempting to eradicate it of all personality one Sweetgreen at a time. There are, in fact, too many of them.
But also, whether you agree with Chloë or not, this is exactly the type of broad generalization of good taste I want from my It-girls. They are our arbiters of cool, our gods of je ne sais quoi, and as such it is their rightful duty to pass ruthless judgement upon the rest of us and underscore just how preposterously pedestrian we are. So, really, we should all be thanking Chloë for this harsh, but fair reminder of that fact.
But there is one dog in this city even Chloë would make an exception for, and that’s Demi Moore’s micro chihuahua Pilaf who now comes with his own collection of gorgeous baby hats. A major Fendi campaign surely can’t be too far behind, and I’m glad to see that, much like my love of Jocelyne Wildenstein, the mainstream media has also finally discovered this longtime Mess muse and the only creature on this earth truly living in the lap of luxury. I fear him and I love him!
I promise I’m not going to be mad, I just need to know. Who on Jennifer Lopez’s team reads Mess…..because first I’m getting merkins on the haute couture runways of Paris, and now I’m getting a hyper-realistic molded nipple bikini top on one of the biggest pop stars in the world. This thing is like a latex Halloween mask but for the tit. What have I done to deserve all these riches! Why are people suddenly listening to my bad fashion opinions in 2024! And to think, if Hollywood would stop fooling around and just pay me already to give them these dumb ideas, we could’ve had pubic hair and fake 3D nips on the red carpet a full calendar year ago. Let’s get a move on, people!
And what did I tell you last week about the celebrity furry agenda creeping in around the edges!!!
Alas, I’ve got mob wife business to attend to, so I’m going to call it quits for today. The second half of this newsletter will be found behind the paywall where we’re going to chat Kim K’s mink maxi skirt, JT’s continued clown behavior, and two porn stars’ foray into high fashion modeling.
Another one bites the dust!:
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Stay true to yourselves, my friends!!!