the big thing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 1997, 12:00am

LONDON: From chichi Lambrettas and Vespas, to modern-day electric versions of what we tumbled from as kids, scooters are definitely the coolest accessory in Britain this summer. Pooh-poohed as a passing fad last year, sales of all two-wheeled scooters are booming, with the one-time, Italian-made 'Lammies' taking pride of place in the revival. For the reconstructed Mods, the biz is now the Zip: one luminous yellow model was recently spotted outside the Ritz in London. The portable, rechargeable electric two-wheeler can be picked up and carried like a skateboard, and has a maximum cruising speed of 48 kilometres per hour. No numberplate, helmet, licence or even road tax are required. WHO MAKES IT COST Fuel costs are low as the Zip handily plugs into a wall socket for recharging. The new scooter is not just a hit with the trendy set, it is also in vogue with arthritic pensioners no longer able to ride bicycles.

sue quinn PARIS: The French capital is in the throes of an Indian summer. Beauty salons are offering elaborate henna tattoos to complement tanned hands and legs - as originally modelled by Kashmiri princesses. Meanwhile, popular boutiques such as Kookai and Morgan are offering vividly dyed summer frocks in diaphanous muslin that evoke images of Eastern bazaars and the smouldering starlets of Hindi films.

Fashion stylists are heading in droves to Passage Brady, the Indian shopping arcade near Gare du Nord which sells exquisite sari fabrics and jewellery at rock bottom prices. This month's Marie Claire magazine boasts a 12-page Indian-themed fashion shoot. Even the popular British chain, Marks and Spencer, is wowing Parisian palates with its imported range of cool curries, and chicken tikka sandwiches are gracing the most well dressed picnic hampers.

Film stars and politicians flock to Le Maharajah restaurant on trendy Boulevard Saint Germain to eat haute cuisine-style Indian food. There is no foie gras masala on the menu ... yet.

anita chaudhuri NEW YORK: The latest exercise craze to hit New York is 'Strollercize', the brainchild of personal trainer Elizabeth Trindade who, Pied Piper-like, leads processions of mothers with their baby buggies through exercise routines all over Central Park.

Trindade, AGE whose solo clients include Henry Kissinger, came up with the idea after she had her first child and couldn't go to the gym without a baby-sitter. 'Get right down on that left leg. Now hold your right foot and streeeeeeetch that leg up and out behind you. Use the handles for support,' she shouts militaristically. The babies seem thoroughly entertained by mummy's contortions.

Membership to the club starts at US$135 (HK$1,050) for eight classes, including three free classes for partners. 'This is a whole world for women,' she says. 'And it's great for babies to see their mothers exercising. It's the beginning of a happy life style.' Just don't expect to see Kissinger, now pushing 74, pushing a pram.

tessa souter TORONTO: Women's new-found freedom to bare their breasts with impunity, so long as it isn't for sex or profit, is the hot topic.

The controversy began one steamy day in July 1991, when a university student went for a stroll - sans shirt - in public to make a point about equality. Last December, the Ontario Court of Appeals overturned her conviction on indecency charges, although sub-zero temperatures discouraged celebratory stripping in the streets.

In a puritan province where smoking is almost taboo, conservative politicians are not turned on by the ruling. Debates rage over whether exposed bosoms are harmful to children's development, an invitation to rape or whether or not they will harm the sex glands. Theories aside, the warm weather of the past few weeks has allowed some women to shed a final layer of clothing to stay cool and avoid tan lines.

j.p. williams TOKYO: The worst has finally happened. Now that sales of Tamagotchis have reached the 10 million-mark in Japan, the demanding digital pets have begun to mutate.

They are shedding their key-ring forms and resurfacing all over the nation in the shape of pens, notebooks, T-shirts and a whole range of items. Bandai, the company that invented the toy, has just released its 'summer gift list' of Tamagotchi merchandise. The products include Tamagotchi panties - which fortunately don't beep or demand to be fed at embarrassing moments - but do display a different character for every day of the week. There are also Tamagotchi 'packet curry' and cereal.

Tamagotchis are already breeding faster than the general population, and the trend is unlikely to be reversed soon: rumours abound that the next item to hit the Japanese market will be a Tamagotchi condom.

abigail haworth SYDNEY: Bruce and Demi are doing it. Jim Carrey's just signed up, and now Brad Pitt's jumping on the bandwagon. America's obsession with all things litigious has infected Australia with four top-billing stars suing three Sydney-based gossip 'rags' for defamation.

As the world's largest consumer of magazines, Australia has managed to generally escape legal entanglement with Hollywood's celebrity machine - until now. Just last month, Sydney law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques issued defamation proceedings against weekly mag New Idea on behalf of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.

Comedian Jim Carrey is pitted against popular glossy Women's Day for an article claiming he'd sexually harassed several actresses. Meanwhile, rumours abound that Pitt has just filed against a monthly magazine for printing nude snaps of Pitt prancing by a Californian pool. 'There is an increasing trend by Australian tabloids to treat gossip as fact,' says Mallesons' partner John Waters.

'High-profile individuals, like everyone else, are entitled to the protection of the law.' Could this spell the end to Australia's ferocious consumption of celebrity drivel? nicky briger