Brief encounter with Liz goes swimmingly
ELIZABETH Hurley has a lot to answer for.
Not only did her presence yesterday at Kildare Village Outlet Shopping force many women to skive off work and several schoolgirls to bunk off school, but she has also made the men of Ireland wonder why the womenfolk are still muffling up in winter woollies when Liz and her two models can slink around in little more than two pieces of string and a handkerchief.
Unlike the unfortunate models, Elizabeth was at least wearing a pair of her favourite white jeans, though her top was of such astonishing skimpiness amid the mad March winds that her admiring female fans could hardly bear to look. Her male fans, not so much.
But the most amazing thing was that Elizabeth's glossy, golden A-list skin didn't even crack a goose pimple -- now that's mind over matter.
However glamorous her lifestyle, Elizabeth certainly seems determined. Awed staff at other shops in the Kildare Village reported that the 'Austin Powers' star had been on her hands and knees until all hours the previous night, personally stocking the shelves of her new beachwear store, Elizabeth Hurley Beach Boutique.
At the appointed hour of her appearance at noon yesterday, her staff trooped out in floaty chiffon kaftans and, yes, white jeans. "Just like Singapore Airlines," whispered an onlooker.
The crowd, of mostly women, pushed eagerly forward, the better to see the arrival of the English star.
Elizabeth was, as she might have put it, "fashionably late, dahling", but deliberately so, it seemed, as she eventually emerged from the door of a nearby restaurant, greeting the crowd in her hearty, plummy tones: "Hello! Good afternoon everybody. It's an absolute treat for me to be here in Kildare."
Then, ever mindful of her image, she said that she would stop talking for the photographs, explaining that she "looks prettier" when she's not talking.
Then she got down to business -- pouting and tossing her long mane for the cameras -- it was after all, the reason she was here.
Now aged 44, tanned and toned Elizabeth looks even better in the flesh than she does in pictures.
"She's beautiful looking," one woman said. "She's very young looking -- it's well for her," agreed one mother with a buggy.
With pictures in the bag, Elizabeth took the microphone in hand once again. It wasn't a typical day to be thinking of bikinis, she conceded.
"I'm jealous of all of you in down parkas -- we're shivering here," she said, smiling so sweetly that we would never have guessed.
"But summer's coming," she reminded us, a steely note of business creeping into her voice.
"There's nobody here that doesn't need a bikini, a kaftan or a bracelet."
This is her fourth shop and, she claimed, her favourite. "It's so pretty, we just love Kildare Village."
Then gesturing towards one of the freezing models, Elizabeth said that particular bikini, pink with gold hoop decorations, was "very special" because 100pc of the proceeds were going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Professor John Crown's Cancer Clinical Research Trust in Ireland. Amid the crowd, Prof Crown, wearing a pair of trendy sunglasses, beamed.
There were plenty of the bikinis inside, said Elizabeth, and, cutting the pink ribbon with a pair of pink scissors, she cheerily urged the crowd to: "Come on in!"
The crowd obliged but sales seemed rather less than enthusiastic as people were more interested in browsing and having a chat with the woman herself.
Two schoolgirls from Naas were amongst the first inside, snapping up Elizabeth Hurley oat bars and sugar-free mints.
"She told us they were a guilt-free snack," smiled one rather worriedly, adding that they had told teachers that they were off to see the dentist.