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Why do red carpet interviewers ask celebrities only about who designed their clothes or jewelry? Who cares?

By: Yon, New York, New York

A.B. Replies: You live in New York, and you don't care about fashion? Does the mayor know about this?

Every week, this B!tch gets at least one letter from some slobbering E! obsessive begging for insider intelligence on celebrity clothes. Where to get that suddenly amazing plain white tee Mischa Barton wore on last night's O.C.? Who designs all of Jennifer Aniston's Barbie-butt jeans? How to find the environmentally conscious Day-Glo clutch Natalie Portman used when she was promoting V for Vendetta in Qwertystan?

The first reason people want to know this stuff is so they can act smart at art parties. Old Navy shoppers can drop names like Versace or Rochas and pretend they're plugged in to the same crowd that gets photographed for Vogue every month, minces around at lavish South American weddings and air-kisses Nicole Kidman at AIDS fundraisers at the New York Opera.

But also remember, many, many middle-income people actually drop cash on ridiculous designer labels. In other words, that seemingly obsequious entertainment press is just giving celebrity-mad readers what they want. Consider: Even if a star worshipper can't afford a couture dress at list price, she can hop on humble shopping site eBay and get a gown or some other garment from the same designer for much less.

Uma Thurman is credited with effectively launching the Prada fashion label when she wore the house's lavender gown to the Oscars in 1995. The gown was one of a kind. Commoners like you didn't care. The queries started pouring in about who these nearly mythical Italian designers were, with their golden scissors and whatnot. Today, Prada remains one of the top searched fashion names on eBay, where a smart shopper can find a pricey Prada gown for a mere $50. (I did, just this week.)

After Halle Berry wore a burgundy Saab gown to the Academy Awards in 2002, interest in the designer skyrocketed--among rich and posers alike. A trip to eBay shows a pair of Saab pants that normally go for $900 are going for $150. I have no doubt that they have been sold in the 20 seconds it just took me to write this sentence.

"Red carpet reporters ask celebrities what they are wearing because viewers want to know," says Carla Blizzard, whose FilmFashion publicity company represents Swarovski, Monique Lhuillier, Catherine Malandrino and other hot names.

"Even if the average viewer can't afford the designer fashions being worn on the red carpet, they may want to emulate a particular style and reference the designer in their search," Blizzard tells this B!tch.

And none of this escapes boutique owners, who know consumers like to buy what stars wear.

"Red carpet placements directly relate to the business of fashion," Blizzard says. "For example, Kim Cattrall wore a Pamella Roland gown to the Emmys a couple of years ago. A buyer from a major department store had initially passed on the gown, but after the Emmys and the resulting press, the buyer came back in and purchased it for the stores."