Thursday 18 December 2014

US DIARY ORLA HEALY

Breakdown of A-list marriage no surprise to 'Stepford' neighbours

Orla Healy

Published 01/09/2013 | 05:00

Ralph Lauren, Glenn Close, Martha Stewart, Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere might not have been that surprised to hear their Bedford, NY, neighbours Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are taking time out from their 13-year marriage. According to reports coming out of the affluent horse-country community 60 minutes north of Manhattan, rumours about the couple's marital woes have been flying around town ever since Douglas moved out of the $5m family home, purchased as a weekend bolt-hole in 2010, more than a year ago. Nobody, apparently, thought to tip off the tabs.

E! News is now reporting that Douglas settled into a nearby bachelor pad (a none-too-shabby four-bed converted barn on the grounds of a friend's $15m estate) 18 months ago so he could be around on weekends for 13-year-old son Dylan and 10-year-old daughter Carys. The actor, 68, has supposedly been spending the bulk of his time at the couple's luxury apartment in the Kenilworth building on Central Park West while his estranged wife, 43, has been based in Bedford full-time.

"Apart from riding and playing golf, she's quite happy hanging around the house or going shopping," a local source tells E!.

Zeta-Jones and Douglas (who is currently in Italy) are apparently in no rush to file for divorce. As one resident tells E!: "There seems no obvious reason to get divorced. They both get to do what they want privately."

Bedford, incidentally, was the town that provided the inspiration for the setting of the cult classic Stepford Wives.

Officials given guns and gold

Vladimir Putin has an interesting take on how to delight Hillary Clinton. According to documents released last Thursday, the Russian president gave the former US secretary of state a $560 bottle of cognac in 2012, a present she accepted so as not to offend but one, like many others, she didn't keep because it crossed the $350 threshold on gifts US government officials are allowed accept from their international counterparts.

Hillary was probably more put out when she had to hand over the white gold jewellery with teardrop rubies and diamonds presented to her by Saudi King Abdullah. It was appraised at a value of $500,000 – just one of the gems contained in the annual list of diplomatic swag published by the Federal Register.

US President Barack Obama also accepted but didn't keep a basketball autographed by Chinese president Xi Jinping ($740) and a ping-pong table with paddles ($1,100) from David Cameron. His 2012 St Patrick's Day haul from Enda Kenny (crystal bowl centrepiece; bronze statue of James Hoban; two silver shamrock charm bracelets, one lamb's wool scarf; one lamb's wool blanket; one certificate of Obama's Irish heritage) was valued at $7,246.19 and, like all the above, would have been turned over to the General Services Administrations office, which tends to donate or sell the gifts.

Other standouts on the eye-popping list include 10 swords, eight daggers, six sabres, three AK-47s and, in a remarkable gesture from the Afghan National Army to a US lieutenant colonel, one anti-tank gun.

De la Renta cuts guest list

Oscar de la Renta is planning to unveil a controversial new trend when he stages his Spring/Summer 2014 collection as part of New York Fashion Week on September 10. And the fashion flock already hate it. Fed up packing thousands of designers, editors, celebrities and random influencers into a venue, De la Renta has decided to slash his guest list to a maximum of 350 seats. "I feel [inviting a more targeted audience] is the most manageable way and the most civilised way," the designer told WWD, explaining his plans to limit access to a curated audience with a "legitimate professional purpose" to view his clothes up close.

"It's important for [certain industry professionals] to look at the clothes and see them. They shouldn't have to go through 30,000 people, and 10,000 who are trying to take pictures of all of those people who are totally unrelated to the clothes," he said. Guess Miley, Rihanna, Lindsay and Kim might want to make alternate plans.

Fashion week goes global

At the opposite end of the scale Pinterest, the photo-centric social site that generates two million fashion-related pins every day, is about to let everyone experience the Fashion Week circus first hand. On Thursday last it launched a dedicated New York Fashion Week channel where Pinners can find their favourite designers, style blogs and influencer boards in one spot.

Hubs will be added for London, Paris and Milan offering everything from backstage access to runway trend alerts and inspiration boards created by the likes of Michael Kors, Dannijo and yes, even Mr de la Renta is in on the act, will become a game-changing model for global event coverage, industry analysts predict.

Sunday Independent

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