Go home!

Italian designers hawk prenatal habitats like Mom used to make. Plus: Coffee-stain chic.

By Carina Chocano

Published April 23, 2001 10:48PM (EDT)

They don't call them "shelter mags" for nothing.

Staying home has never seemed more appealing, nor leaving home more hazardous. Suddenly, it seems that new social and environmental terrors are minted daily. So why risk going outside and getting shot by a rampaging schoolboy when you can just remain indoors and get poisoned from the comfort of your own tap? Huddling, terrified, in your rented urban bunker has never been more stylish!

Last week, Milan, Italy, hosted the Salone di Mobile, its yearly furniture trade fair. This year's Salone suggests that comfort is molto fashion. Young designers stole the show recalling the kind of prenatal habitat that mom used to make.

"It is like a mother's womb," French designer Jirome Olivet said of his white, softly curving chair.

If you're among the many asking themselves, "If my body is my temple, how should I decorate it?" some young Aussie designers calling themselves the Melbourne Movement have a suggestion. Why not a red leather chair shaped like a vertebra by Joshua Hovey?

"When you go to another planet," Olivet added, "you need something that is familiar to you."

This is a lesson we've learned the hard way.

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Of course, if the freakish weather and natural disasters don't keep you inside, the changing economic climate will. Furniture costs money that you, victim of the formerly new economy, don't have. Luckily for you, style arbiters are catching on to your financial limitations and emphasizing what you do have -- piles of dirty dishes and lots of cans.

This month's Nylon, aka "The Home Issue," features a group of further-down-the-alphabet celebrities in their natural habitats. The photos are shockingly down-to-earth, reminding us that you don't have to be chic to be chic.

"A great environment is an extension of you," writes the magazine's editor in chief, introducing a feature on the kitchens of "Hollywood celebrities" Catherine Kellner, Jared Harris, Arnold Vosloo and Izabella Miko. Never heard of them? Neither has Robin Leach.

"That doesn't mean I'm advocating blowing your entire budget on a fleet of modern Italian furniture for your apartment," he adds. (See above.)

The photos show such previously unappreciated home dicor touches as a potholder dangling from a red plastic adhesive hook, the aforementioned pile of dirty dishes and some coffee stains on a counter, all of which make us feel thrillingly of-the-moment. Add to that Arnold Vosloo's comment that "the kitchen is the best place for spreading out all the bills and deciding which ones to pay," and feel confident that you are beyond fabulous.

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Leave it to Elle to lag egregiously behind the times. This month's issue features the home of the youngest granddaughter of India's last viceroy, Lord Mountbatten. India Hicks is a former model, bridesmaid of the late Princess Diana and -- what else? -- a seller of T-shirts and handbags. Did we mention the house is a former plantation in the Bahamas? That Armani makes her feel "elegant but understated"? That people often ask her how she can live in the Bahamas, but that she has "created a life for herself" there that is "very complete"?

Man, is she out of it.

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And speaking of things that are over, here's an idea: Why not plumb the '80s for more great fashion tips?

Shoe designers Via Spiga are reviving not just the ice cream cone heel (still), but patent leather ice cream cone heels in white, fuschia, cobalt and, yes, mustard. The offending items are paired with white lace tights. Remember white lace tights? Of course you do. You wore them to the prom.

Yes, you did. Admit it. You did.

OK, we did.

Did we mention the dishes in our sink?

Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

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