Swag Hounds

“It should be right there,” Steffie says, pointing at a deep, roadless ravine. I consult the tattered Thomas Guide page again. “Maybe we didn’t go far enough?” I suggest. Lina, Steffie and I have been trapped in the car for 45 minutes, and I am cursing the PR maven who BlackBerried us the bum directions.

We’re on our way to the Style Lounge, a swag fest in a Hollywood Hills mansion where designers heap tons of free goods on stars and their stylists in the hopes of their product being seen on an actual celebrity during the MTV Movie Awards.

We finally find the spot — FYI, Sunset Plaza Drive doesn’t connect to Blue Jay Way — only to find that despite repeated e-mails with the PR maven, our names are not on the list. The check-in girl, exhausted, shrugs and gives us each a red wristband and black shopping bag.

The place is packed with waifish starlet after waifish starlet, their bulging bags overflowing with swag: Leather purses! Dresses! Perfume! We spot Vivica Fox loaded down like a Grand Canyon mule.

Inside one of the gifting suites, a woman who tells us she represents a company of craft artists looking for press gives us a bag with handmade trinkets and info on the artists. But a few minutes later our bag is taken away by the woman who owns the company. “We don’t have that many left,” she says, “and my friend didn’t know who you were.”

Thirteen-year-old Tatiana McLane, designer for Queenie4ever with her mom, Venice Wong, hasn’t learned to give the cold shoulder yet. But she does know how to pitch the press. She tells us how she’s inspired by local designers Tarina Tarantino and Meghan, and started designing clothes at 10. Her T-shirts have turned up on everyone from Hilary Duff and Jessica Simpson to Missy Elliott and Macy Gray.

Nearby, Jamie Harris, who makes cool, tapered headbands with her sister for their company This Is J, shows me how to put one on — face-framing layers outside. Suddenly I feel like Brigitte Bardot.

Upstairs, we drool over leather clutches and wallets from HOBO, and ogle satiny bluish-silver dresses and cream-colored lace La Rok baby dolls. The woman at the booth awkwardly explains that she can’t give away clothes. “They’re expensive, you know,” she says condescendingly. The words are barely out of her mouth before she turns her back and begins shoving dresses into the arms of a stylist for a woman I have never heard of. We’d have settled for a handshake, a look book or a business card instead of the cold shoulder, but today, it’s all about the celebrity endorsement. Companies go after the A-list, the E-list, anyone who might skyrocket them into Kitson. The Great Ugg Way.

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