Lunch with Lauren: Sweetie

Lately, fashion has gone to the dogs. I recently had the dubious honor of interviewing Sweetie, John Bartlett's scribbling "daughter" (as he calls his lovable mutt) on the occasion of the debut of her Elle column. Despite appearances, she's especially qualified to render opinions about everything fashionable -- art, fashion, movies, restaurants and so on. For a mutt, she's got a lot of 'tude and a little paunch, but we dished the dirt and it was grand. Don't call her "just" a dog.
Lauren Ezersky: You and I first met on the runway at the Chiquita Banana 100th Birthday Fashion Show. You taught me how to model, remember?
Sweetie: All I said was "left, right, left, right." You were a natural.

LE: [Laughs] And now we're both columnists. Honey, we're like Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper.

S: Funny you should say that -- a lot of people think I look like Hedda Hopper with whiskers and a hairy midriff.

LE: [Laughs] How'd you get the Elle gig?
S: Well, like you, I'm a freelance style-icon muse. When Elle heard that I was looking for a vehicle through which to vent and express my opinions, they literally leaped on me. I'm still a little bruised.

LE: What about perks? Do you get free John Galliano dresses?
S: You're the only one who gets free John Galliano dresses, Lauren.

LE: Yeah, right. [Laughs] So what's it like being a four-legged fashionista?
S: Much the same as being a two-legged fashionista. You get pushed around, people spill drinks on you, and at the end of the day you hate what you're wearing and wish you were five pounds lighter.

LE: I've gotta tell you, Sweetie, you are looking a little chunky. You know, in the fashion business, you've got to stay thin.
S: [Snaps] You want scrawny, go find yourself a bulimic bichon frise! I'm proud to be a plus-size girl in a size-four world.

LE: So tell me, what do you eat for breakfast?
S: A nourishing plate of kidneys and livers. I'm a huge fan of the humble organ meat. Did you know that the entrails have fewer calories than salad?

LE: [Dubious] Really?
S: Salads are full of fat.

LE: O.K., enough about food, Sweetie. What are your hot fashion tips?
S: Find a collar and a leash that work for you and stick with them. Always wear fur, no matter what the season.

LE: What about your picks and pans for Spring 2000?
S: I loved all the scarf prints, but my favorite fabric was python. The only good snake is a dead snake.

LE: Could you believe all the T&A on the runway? I was like, leave a little to the imagination, please.
S: Totally. After all, mystery is nine-tenths of a woman's charm.

LE: That's always been my motto. Where do you like to shop?
S: I used to love shopping in the meatpacking district, but all the butchers have been replaced by galleries. Now I go uptown, to Barneys.

LE: I saw you in a Barneys catalog, modeling with Alek Wek. Sweetie, you looked fierce.
S: Thanks. I've done a couple of print campaigns for Barneys, and occasionally I drop by the store to help them drum up a little excitement. I think of it as my charity work.

LE: Which do you prefer, walking the runway or doing a photo shoot?
S: Nothing compares to runway -- the adoring audience, the blinding flashbulbs, the spectacle of Naomi Campbell falling off her heels again. . .

LE: [Laughs] Who are your favorite designers?
S: Well, John Bartlett adopted me as his hairy daughter, so I'd have to say he's at the top of my list. I know what side my beef is buttered on.

LE: Where do you hail from? Describe your early years.
S: I come from the centuries-old birthplace of acid-washed denim. I guess you could say that my girlhood was typical enough. As a young pup I was constantly plagued by premonitions that Prada would oneday reinvent the YSL blouse.

LE: You were on the cutting edge, even then! A lot of fashion people start out with miserable lives. How did you rise above your misery?
S: I discovered martinis and foie gras.

LE: Do you have a boyfriend?
S: I used to go out with a really hot borzoi, but he dumped me when he found out I wasn't a purebred. Men are such dogs.

LE: We should go manhunting together. What's your type?

S: Really hairy with bad breath.

LE: Mine too. [Laughs] Have you ever had a problem with any subjects you've written about? Has anyone ever given you attitude?
S: I once wrote that a certain French designer was featuring shoulder pads where his butt used to be. He threw a stale croissant at me in the lobby of the Paris Ritz.

LE: Ouch!
S: Nothing stings like a day-old croissant, Lauren, but then I don't have to tell you that.

LE: Tell me about your future goals. Will there be a Sweetie doll?
S: Yeah. You pull the string and it says, "Where the hell did you get those shoes?"

LE: If they do a Sweetie miniseries, I want a part in it, O.K.?
S: Of course. I'm thinking that Cheryl Ladd should play me. You could play her younger, prettier sister.

LE: Are you going to get sick of being Sweetie before the end of 2000?
S: Not a chance. I'm constantly reinventing myself. I'm like Madonna, only hairier.

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