22 July 2008

Rawther Fierce

Christian Siriano, the petite and outspoken winner of Project Runway's 4th season, is set to design a line that will be central to the plot of 2009's "Eloise in Paris." Exciting? Well, we can be sure that this association will drum up lots of press, at least 3 Vogue photo spreads featuring Natalia Vodianova or some other woman-child model as Eloise, and a spun off line for H&M. It's "The Devil Wears Prada" for the Miley Cirus set - glamour, brushes with fame, and at least 20 shots of Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower. It's also a rather bleak move for another Project Runway alum.

Kay Thompson created the petulant 6-year-old Eloise ("A Book for Precocious Grown Ups") originally as a radio show character and then as a book in 1955 about a girl who lives on the very top floor of The Plaza Hotel with her pug, turtle, and British Nanny - taunting her guardians and the Hotel staff by ordering such things as "one roast-beef bone, one raisin and seven spoons" from room service, and pouring pitchers of water down the mail shoot. She's uncouth, terrorizes grown-ups, disobeys rules and is not a particularly attractive child.

The original four books were a terrific success, but in the early 1960s, Thompson suddenly decided that the world didn't need Eloise anymore - she had grown sick of the character and pulled all but the original from the market. Thanks to the nostalgic folks at Simon and Schuster, and the encouragement of Hilary Knight, the illustrator, the books were re-issued after Thompson's death, along with an elaborate marketing scheme and of course, the film.

There is nothing new about a story of wealthy, fanciful children tormenting their caretakers. I've always been hesitant to embrace such glorifications of poor behavior as I know I had a difficult time separating the fun of being monstrous from the true lesson of the story as a child (and probably still today). And of course the inevitable merchandising of the film and the new books is hardly what the wonderful Kay Thompson had in mind. The best hope for this movie is that Milena Canonero (Costume Designer for Marie Antoinette and The Darjeeling Limited - both of which were visually stunning) has signed on as a visual consultant. But, it is being directed by the eternally sappy Pottery Barn director Charles Shyer (Father of the Bride I and II, Baby Boom). As much as I complain, it will probably be guilty fun to watch the jet-setting toddler run around Paris trying to retrieve stolen couture.

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