What do you dream about having? The most beautiful ball gown? Gorgeous thighs? A breathtaking haircut? Clothes in colors that flatter you? A sublime lipstick? The perfect hurt coat?
Come shopping with Dodie Kazanjian. These essays will take you on a journey of the senses as she describes in exquisite-and frequently hilarious-detail how to find the best things in life. With wit, style, and flair, Dodie will become your personal shopper and bring you into the stores, boutiques, salons, and hotels that may be on your wish list.
But Dodie Goes Shopping is also a commentary on why we love the things we do and what our own taste and style say about us. This delightful collection will fascinate anyone who is a fashion connoisseur, a style watcher, or someone for whom taste matters.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|File size:||898 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Dodie Goes Shopping and Other Adventures
By Dodie Kazanjian, Chesley McLaren
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1999 Dodie Kazanjian
All rights reserved.
Andy Warhol once said that an artist is "somebody who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he — for some reason — thinks it would be a good idea to give them." That's how I used to feel about cosmetic surgeons. Maybe fashion models or movie stars could justify their face jobs on professional grounds, but for the rest of us, it was just vanity, self-indulgence, and a crime against nature.
But then I turned forty. Right on cue, two sets of facial lines made their unwelcome appearance, up there between my eyebrows and on either side of my smile. Friends began telling me I looked tired. And I found myself reading articles about face-lifts, brow-lifts, breast-lifts, breast reductions, abdomen tucks, chemical peels, implants, liposuction, laser surgery, and all the other "atrocities" (as my husband calls them) that were constantly turning up in magazines. The stuff horrified me and fascinated me in about equal measure.
To a certain extent, you could say I had a proprietary interest in the subject. A relative of mine, Dr. Varaztad Kazanjian, pioneered the techniques of modern plastic surgery and wrote a textbook that is considered the bible in that field. I remember visiting him in his Boston office when I was ten; he was tiny (like all Kazanjians), with a thick mop of white hair and a substantial Armenian nose that nobody would ever have wanted to tamper with. He had made his name as a battlefield surgeon during World War I, reconstructing faces that had been shattered by bullets or schrapnel. But because he died in 1974, I don't know how he would have felt about collagen injections and nipple-lifts. All I know is that my curiosity about the whole business had been mounting, to the point where I decided to talk with several plastic surgeons, to see what they thought I should do, if anything, about my fleeting youth.
* * *
Since I'm a sucker for name brands — my Chanel suit, my Kelly bag from Hermès, my Armani jacket, my Manolo Blahnik mules — I see no reason not to start at the top. Everybody tells me that means Daniel Baker, M.D., whose worshipful clients include Sophia Loren, Lauren Bacall, Nan Kempner, and Christopher Walken. When I call his office, though, I am told that there is a very long waiting list; the first opening for a consultation is thirteen months away. (I don't mention that I work for Vogue.) It sometimes seems as if the most expensive things in life have the longest waiting lists — six months for my Chanel suit and four years for my black leather Kelly bag. I soon find out just how expensive facial surgery can be. If a woman's face is her fortune, it now costs a fortune — $20,000 and up, depending on how much gets lifted. That evening, when I tell my husband that I booked my first consultation for a year from next month, he seems relieved. Anything can happen in a year, he reasons, including my coming to my senses.
The friendly secretary at the office of Sherrell Aston, M.D., on the other hand, says she'll fit me into his busy schedule because she knows how "anxious" I must be, and she gives me an appointment five weeks down the road. Dr. Aston, who worked on Pamela Harriman, is a great favorite with the old-money crowd, and when I meet him in his Park Avenue office, I can see why. He's beautifully dressed in a well-cut dark suit and what must be a Sulka tie. He's just about the same height as my cousin Varaztad, and he pats my hand, gently and reassuringly, throughout the fifteen-minute consultation. He asks me what bothers me about my face. I tell him I don't like my worry lines and my smile lines, and I don't like being told I look tired. After studying my face from several different angles under a punishingly strong light, he gives my hand an extra-long squeeze and says, in his ever-so-slightly Southern accent, "I can make you better."
He proposes to do this with a face-lift and a brow-lift. The works. My stomach flip-flops. I'd been anticipating something less drastic. He hands me a mirror, pulls up the skin on my left cheek, and shows how the face-lift would minimize the smile lines but without getting rid of them completely. Then he shows how raising my eyebrows would smooth away the worry lines. "You don't have a problem with your eyes," he says. "The brow-lift would take care of any problem with the upper lids." My lower lids are fine, except for "a little scaling at the corner," which he could remedy with a laser. Nothing to it, except for the two- to three-week recovery period after surgery, and the fees, which I am to discuss with one of his many assistants after the consultation. (The total, including anesthesia and an overnight stay in the hospital, but without lasering, comes to $21,550, plus $150 for this initial visit.) We don't talk about the bad parts — the painful recovery period, the swelling and the black eyes, the rubber drains behind the ears for oozing blood, the trying to sleep in a sitting-up position to keep the stitches from pulling out, all of which I've read about, again and again. I do tell him that I'm terrified of needles, a real phobia. "Mark on her orange card that she gets no needles," he tells the nurse, without skipping a beat. "Gas and some pills, but no needles." And he gives my hand another deeply reassuring squeeze.
* * *
Brooke Astor likes to tell people that she's ninety-seven years old and has never had a face job. When Gloria Steinem turned fifty, she said proudly, "This is what fifty looks like." My sixty-two-year-old friend Brooke Hayward bristles at the very thought of cosmetic surgery. "I find it totally repellent," she says. "It's taken a lifetime to get the way I look. Of course, if I were ugly or disfigured, I might feel different." John Guare once told me that if his wife, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, ever got a face job, he'd punch her in the nose. No chance of that: Adele says she's "relieved to be my age. Wrinkles. Big deal." "All it really takes," John quips, "is Scotch Tape and rubber bands and a nail driven through the back of the head."
* * *
In spite of some similar feelings on my part, not to mention the strenuous resistance of my husband, I go to see Paul S. Striker, M.D., another Park Avenue wonder-worker, whose specialties, judging from the pamphlets on display in his waiting room, are "laser eyelid surgery" and "the new liposuction." He looks like a young Bob Dole, and he's as short as I am. (What is it about plastic surgeons and height?) The first thing he tells me, after the usual preliminary questions about why I've come to see him, is that my eyes are the real problem — just the opposite of what Dr. Aston said. "It's your eyes, definitely. Your upper eyelids are folding down, draping, festooning, bringing your eyes lower on your face. They're crashing right into your nose." Yikes! He lifts my brow with his hands. "You don't need a brow-lift," he says. "It wouldn't be right for you. You'd look like you were perpetually surprised. And you don't need a face-lift. There's nothing to lift. There's no fat." He brings out a stack of photographs, before and after headshots of patients. As we leaf through them, it occurs to me how I would hate to have my face in that stack. He talks about curing my worry and smile lines with injections of collagen, or better still, a little fat from my thighs. A fat injection lasts about a year, he says, collagen about three months or less. The eye surgery he has in mind would be done entirely by laser, which he switched to four years ago after two decades of cutting and suturing, because it's quicker, there's less bleeding, and the recovery time is shorter. The laser surgery is good for ten to fifteen years, he says, unless I cry a lot. "I had one patient who had laser eye surgery and then went through a horrible divorce. And after six months of crying, it was ruined. It also depends on your skin. You have to keep out of the sun and wear sunscreen." Although there's no fat to remove under my eyes, he says, he'd like to do a little laser resurfacing there. Assuming that I plan to go along with all this, he gives me endlessly complicated instructions about skin care and the proper use of Renova, a prescription creme with the miracle ingredient Retin A, which, as I later learn, helps to prevent the blotching that laser surgery can cause.
When I tell him I like the idea of borrowing fat from my thighs because I've always wanted to lose it there, he says, "Show me." I rise from the dentist-like examining chair and stand in front of him. "No," he commands, "let me see them." Acutely embarrassed, I partially drop my pants. He studies me from every angle. "Liposuction will help you there. That's not going to go away, no matter how much you exercise or diet. That's there for good. Even if you were starving to death on a desert island, and you were skeletal everywhere else, that wouldn't go. You'd die before you'd lose it." That's just dandy, isn't it? And not even a hand squeeze to soften the blow. "But you don't need a face job. I wouldn't do a face job on you."
* * *
Lunch at Vivolo's with my friend Roxana. She knows seven women who have just had cosmetic eye surgery. Ten years ago, even five years ago, those women wouldn't have told her about it. Face jobs are out of the closet now, though; no more phony trips to Brazil to cover the post-op period of seclusion. Nearly three-and-a-half million Americans (both men and women) had their faces or bodies sculpted, rearranged, or recreated last year. And they seem to be doing it at younger and younger ages. Gerald Imber, M.D., author of The Youth Corridor, argues that the best approach is to nip aging in the bud with small cosmetic procedures from the age of thirty on up through the mid-fifties.
As it happens, Dr. Imber is next on my list. "Great name," he tells me, looking up from my chart. "Are you any relation to —" Yes, I am. Tieless and jacketless, hair slicked back like a tango dancer's, Dr. Imber exudes boundless confidence and authority. He's the only doctor who asks me, when I tell him that people say I look tired, "Well, are you tired?"
"As a matter of fact, yes."
"There you are. I can see exactly what you should do, and it will make an enormous difference." What he sees for me is a blepharoplasty for the upper eyelids, to cut away the excess fat and drooping skin, and one for under the eyes as well, to get rid of the fatty "bags" and the discoloration he finds there. Surprise. The other two doctors saw no fat under my eyes. He'll also cut the corrugator muscles, which go into action whenever you frown — I guess this means I won't be able to frown anymore. And he'll suction fat from my cheeks and inject it right into my smile lines and my worry lines. "It won't take the lines away totally, but it will make them look like they're just beginning." The fat injections, he says, would have to be repeated every six months. Dr. Striker said that they would last a year.
"So," I say nervously, "what are my options?"
"There are no options." Dazzling smile. "You have to do this."
"What about laser for the eyes?"
"No. That's no good for you, because you have Mediterranean skin, and laser treatment might make the skin under your eyes a different color from the rest of your face. And I don't recommend a face-lift for you. You have no wrinkles. You don't need that. You will — that's coming someday. But, right now, there're not enough lines or wrinkles to make it worthwhile."
I'm plenty confused by this time, and I get a lot more confused when I visit the next two surgeons on my list, Michael Kane, M.D., and Alan Matarasso, M.D. Both of them say that I need a face-lift and a brow-lift. What's happened, according to them, is that my eyebrows have dropped significantly. "Do you see how low your eyebrows are?" Dr. Matarasso asks me, as I gaze once again into a hand-held mirror. "They should be sitting right above the bone, but now they're below the bone." Instead of operating on the eyes, both Dr. Matarasso and Dr. Kane would prefer to do what Dr. Sherrell Aston recommended: an endoscopic brow-lift, which involves much less cutting than the old coronal brow-lifts and which shortens the forehead instead of making it higher. "Glenn Close has a very high forehead, and it makes her look older," Dr. Matarasso says. "She had a coronal brow lift, which pushed her hairline back even farther." But do I really want a shorter forehead? "Oh, yes," he says. "It's much more attractive." Well, okay, except I've always thought that the women with high foreheads look intelligent, and the ones with low foreheads look like stoats.
I ask Dr. Kane, the youngest of the doctors I talk to, whether there is any benefit to be gained from the new anti-aging cremes on the market. "Face creams are really a scam," he says. "They don't do it, and exercise doesn't do it." As a possible alternative to the brow job that he recommends for me, he tells me that he can inject my frown lines with Botox, which temporarily paralyzes the nerves around the corrugator muscles. Botox is derived from botulinum toxin, a deadly poison. I'll pass on that, thank you. And besides, it's hideously expensive: $650 a shot, repeatable in six months or earlier. Like Dr. Matarasso, though, he thinks my best course is a face-lift and a brow-lift, and he offers a special soup-to-nuts price, hospital and anesthesia included, of just under $17,000. (Dr. Matarasso's fee for approximately the same procedures comes to $24,000.) When I ask Dr. Kane how long his face job will last, he says, "Gravity is always at work, even from the day after you have the surgery. So maybe it'll last the traditional seven years, maybe eight, or maybe you'll never need it again. A lot has to do with your genes." The mention of gravity makes me think of Tallulah Bankhead's line, "When you're old, you have everything you had, except it's closer to the ground."
I have one more doctor on my New York plastic-surgeon-shopping spree (two, including the year-away Dr. Dan Baker), but before that, I have to go to Miami and to Los Angeles, so I decide to check out ace plastic surgeons in those image-conscious towns. The name Stephan Baker, M.D., comes up on my radar screen for Miami. He's young, tall (for a change), blond, and German-born, and he spends the first forty-five minutes talking about my ancestor, Dr. Kazanjian, and showing me book after book with pictures and articles about him. "This is the real thing," he says. "Reconstructive surgery for war victims. We don't get to see things like this anymore. We only get cosmetic things. Every once in a while we get an automobile accident victim or a baby with a cleft palate, but the other stuff ..." The other stuff, in my case, seems to be the endoscopic brow-lift, and maybe a face-lift to make me feel refreshed. Another option, he says, would be Botox injections, but for those he says I should go to a dermatologist. "I'm going to tell you something controversial. Dermatologists are trying to do surgery, and plastic surgeons are trying to do dermatology. It's a turf war." If I decide on surgery with Dr. Baker — brow-lift, upper eyelids, face- and neck-lift — I can have it right away for the astonishingly low (!) all-inclusive fee of just over $10,000.
The main thing I learn from Frank Kamer, M.D., the veteran Los Angeles practitioner who has performed miracles for many of Hollywood's ageless charmers, is that I have great earlobes. What's good about them is that they're long and free-swinging, i.e., not connected to my cheeks, which makes them very useful for hiding the stitches from the full-dress face-lift he recommends for me. Somehow, this doesn't feel like a compliment, but at this point, I'm grateful for any positive signals. Kamer does not do laser or collagen or fat injections (he turns those over to the dermatologist who shares his office space; no turf war here), and he doesn't believe in implants for smile or worry lines. "They can float around," he says, "and get misplaced." In addition to a face-lift, he suggests getting rid of the fat under my eyes (the elusive fat that three other doctors have told me I don't have) and doing a coronal (high-forehead) brow-lift. "Accept the fact of a higher forehead," he advises. He also tells me that it's by no means too early to embark on cosmetic surgery. "You're entering the golden age, the years from forty-five to fifty-five." On my way out of the office, Kamer's "patient coordinator" tells me that the work will cost just under $30,000, but that (hooray!) I can pay for it with my American Express card. The frequent flyer miles I earn that way will let me travel business class to the hospital.
Excerpted from Dodie Goes Shopping and Other Adventures by Dodie Kazanjian, Chesley McLaren. Copyright © 1999 Dodie Kazanjian. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
THE BALL GOWN,
THE FUR COAT,
THE WASP HOTEL,
CALMING ME DOWN,
SOME THINGS I DREAM ABOUT HAVING,
Also by Dodie Kazanjian,