Archive for the ‘Fashionista’ Category

This is a Story… based on true events, you never can tell… but read it first and tell me what you think. Now lets start, mind you, a lot of rules will be broken in this piece…  it was originally written for Vanity Fair Magazine… be warned.

18years old Alexis Neiers, days after her arraignment for being an alleged member of the Bling Ring. Photograph by Susanna Howe.

18years old Alexis Neiers, days after her arraignment for being an alleged member of the Bling Ring. Photograph by Susanna Howe.

Alexis Neiers told cops that she and Nick Prugo had been drinking at Beso, a trendy bar-restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, when Prugo got a call from Rachel Lee telling him to come and meet her. It was July 13, 2009. Neiers said she knew that Prugo and Lee—both 19 and former classmates at Indian Hills, an alternative high school in Agoura Hills, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles—had been burglarizing the homes of celebrities. This “included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, and others she was not sure about,” according to the L.A.P.D.’s report.

Neiers, 18, said that she was drunk and “not sure what was going on” as Prugo parked his white Toyota on the road by a house in the Hollywood Hills. Later, she said, she would find out that it was the home of Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom. Her friends knew that Bloom was in New York shooting a movie; they researched this kind of information on celebrity Web sites like TMZ. They discovered the locations of stars’ homes on Google Maps and celebrityaddressaerial.com.

Neiers said that Lee and another girl, Diana Tamayo, 19, got out of Lee’s white Audi A4, and the four kids walked uphill to Bloom’s residence, a stark, black mansion. Neiers didn’t want to go inside, she said, but still she followed. She told police that Prugo, Lee, and Tamayo seemed to be covering their faces with their hoodies, apparently in order to hide from security cameras. Lee cut a section out of the chain-link fence surrounding the property, Neiers said, and the kids crawled through it.

She said they went around the house, checking windows and doors, finally finding an unlocked door by Bloom’s pool area. They went inside and the other kids started to “ransack” Bloom’s home, according to Neiers. That night, they would allegedly steal close to $500,000 in Rolex watches, Louis Vuitton luggage, clothing, and artwork. “What are you doing? Get me the fuck out of here,” Neiers said she screamed. Then she went outside and threw up and peed in the bushes.

The Fame Monster

On November 16, Neiers arrived at Los Angeles Superior Court for her arraignment with an E! reality crew in tow. Her show, originally intended to be about her life as a party girl on the Hollywood scene, had now become a chronicle of her effort to stay out of jail. She was being charged that day with one count of residential burglary of Orlando Bloom’s home. In the media, she was being called a member of “the Burglar Bunch,” “the Bling Ring,” nicknames for the most successful and outrageous burglary gang in recent Hollywood memory: a gang of well-off kids from the Valley.

Camera crews from local news stations, Good Morning America, Dateline NBC, and TMZ were waiting outside Department 30 on the third floor of the courthouse. Producers from various shows murmured as Neiers—a former hip-hop- and pole-dancing instructor—sat calmly on a bench, allowing a makeup woman to touch her up.

A leggy girl with long, dark hair and shimmering blue-green eyes, Neiers was wearing a tweed miniskirt, a pink sweater, and six-inch Christian Louboutin heels. “I have a pretty cool shoe collection going on right now,” she said.

The L.A.P.D.’s report on the Bling Ring states that Nick Prugo told cops that Rachel Lee—a Korean-American girl from Calabasas, a wealthy suburb in the Valley—was “the driving force of the burglary crew and that her motivation was based on her desire to own the designer wardrobes of the Hollywood celebrities she admired.” Charged in the case are Neiers; Prugo; Lee; Tamayo; their friend Courtney Ames, 19; and Roy Lopez Jr., 27, a bouncer Ames knew from a waitressing job. (All have pleaded not guilty, except for Lee, whose arraignment was pending at press time.)

Between October of 2008 and August of 2009, the alleged members of the Bling Ring collectively stole more than $3 million in jewelry and high-end designer goods from a number of Young Hollywood players: Hilton, Lohan, Patridge (a regular on the reality show The Hills), Bilson (former star of The O.C.), original Beverly Hills 90210 cast member Brian Austin Green and his girlfriend, actress Megan Fox. They are said to have tried to rob High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale too, but fled when discovered by a female houseguest.

The thieves apparently had a taste for luxury brands: Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany, Cartier, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent. They allegedly stole clothes, shoes, handbags, makeup, perfume, underwear. They also took Green’s Sig Sauer .380 semi-automatic handgun.

At her lawyer’s office, a week before her arraignment, Neiers denied any involvement in the burglaries. “I’m a firm believer in Karma,” she said, “and I think this situation was attracted into my life because it was supposed to be a huge learning lesson for me to grow and expand as a spiritual human being. I see myself being like an Angelina Jolie,” she said, “but even stronger, pushing even harder for the universe and for peace and for the health of our planet.” She was sounding almost like a real celebrity. “God didn’t give me these talents and looks to just sit around being a model or being famous. I want to lead a huge charity organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know.”

Moments before her arraignment began, a news producer approached, asking Neiers for an interview. “I’m going to make a statement on the courthouse steps,” the pretty defendant promised. She runway-walked into the courtroom as the cameras started rolling.

The Rat

Nick Prugo has a different take on the events of the night of the Bloom burglary. “We didn’t even go to Beso that night,” he said. A slender boy with an angular face and small brown eyes, he was sitting in front of the fire at the Encino home of his lawyer, Sean Erenstoft, on a rainy night in December.

Charged with seven counts of residential burglary, each bringing a possible sentence of two to six years, Prugo is potentially facing serious time. In October, he confessed to police without first getting a deal. For weeks after he was arrested, on September 17 (after being fingered by a tipster), he denied everything; but then, he says, he was finding it difficult to breathe, sleep, eat—“I was even losing my hair.”

“He confessed to crimes we didn’t even know he committed,” Officer Brett Goodkin, the lead investigator in the case, said on the phone. “Even though I was charged with more, you know, things,” Prugo said, “I still think it was the right thing to do.”

He said that on the night of the Bloom burglary “my parents were out of town. Alexis’s mom had kicked her out of the house. So Alexis moved in with me.” Neiers also told cops that her “mother kicked her out of her home.” Prugo, according to the L.A.P.D. report, said the reason was that Neiers had been smoking OxyContin. “Obviously it’s not true,” says Neiers. “Nick Prugo’s credibility is questionable at best,” says her lawyer, Jeffery Rubenstein.

“Miranda Kerr, a Victoria’s Secret model, was dating Orlando Bloom, and Rachel [Lee] wanted Victoria’s Secret model clothes,” said Prugo. Lee’s lawyer, Peter Korn, would say only, “I don’t want to participate in the media attention in this case.”

“We planned to meet” at Bloom’s, Prugo said. “Me and Alexis met Rachel and Diana. We went up to the house.” The surveillance video from Bloom’s residence on the night of the robbery shows four youthful-looking figures coming up a lamplit hill, all covering their heads with their arms and hoods while walking backward, apparently trying to hide their faces from security cameras. “How would a drunk person, so sick, throwing up,” as Neiers claimed she was, “be walking backwards up a hill?,” Prugo asked.

Whenever they robbed celebrities’ homes, Prugo said, it went like this: “You grabbed a suitcase and filled it up with whatever you wanted.” He said Lee called it “going shopping.” “In [Bloom’s] master bedroom, Rachel found a stash of Rolexes and, like, fifteen hundred dollars. Alexis grabbed a Louis Vuitton laptop-size bag and she was rocking it as a purse. Miranda Kerr had a dress there by Alex Perry—like, a one-of-a-kind runway dress. She took that.”

The Bloom surveillance video shows two of the four figures coming and going up and down the hill with large bags several times between three and four a.m. The bags are so unwieldy that one of the figures stumbles. Prugo said that he and Neiers left around five a.m., but Lee and Tamayo went back inside because, Lee said, “‘I want artwork ‘cause I’m moving to Vegas and I want stuff to decorate my house.’”

Some time later, Prugo said, he sold most of Bloom’s Rolexes to Johnny Ajar—a.k.a. “Johnny Dangerous,” and, according to the police report, their “fence”—a thuggish ex-con and promoter at Les Deux who would allegedly get Prugo and his under-age friends into the club. When cops searched Ajar’s home, they found Brian Austin Green’s pistol. Ajar is now in Los Angeles’s Twin Tower Correctional Facility, charged with possession of narcotics and a firearm. “He gave us $5,000 for, like, 10 Rolexes,” Prugo said, “which is I guess a ripoff now that I think of it.”

Ajar’s lawyer, Michael Goldstein, says, “I find it troubling that Prugo, who according to most of the players is the mastermind of these burglaries along with Lee, is now implicating everyone else while my client remains incarcerated.”

“I Loved Her”

It was left to the adults dealing with the aftermath of the Bling Ring—cops, lawyers, the victims—to ask “Why?” “Why did they do this?” asked Audrina Patridge, whose home was burglarized on February 22, 2009, Oscar night. “I watched the surveillance videos,” she said, “expecting it to be these big scary guys, and instead it was these two kids”—allegedly Lee and Prugo.

In the grainy video, a girl and boy who seem to resemble Prugo and Lee enter Patridge’s Hollywood Hills home (they got in through an unlocked door). They pick through her things. The girl looks composed; the boy looks jumpy.

“They took bags and bags of stuff,” Patridge said. “They took my great-grandma’s jewelry, my passport, my laptop, jeans made to fit my body to my perfect shape.” The estimated value of her stolen property was $43,000. Patridge said she believes the thieves were motivated by her fame. “Rachel Lee was a big fan of me. I was her target,” she said she’d heard from cops. “She’s a little obsessed girl, I gotta tell you. She’s going to get what she deserves.”

“Were teenagers too enthralled by stars?” asked The New York Times. “They did it for the money. This was their job,” said Officer Goodkin, who took over the case from detectives when Prugo’s lawyer approached him with his client’s confession. But Goodkin said he was also struck by the “stalkerish” aspect of the crimes. “It may be a stretch, but is wanting to wear somebody’s clothes that different from wanting to wrap yourself up in their skin, like that guy in The Silence of the Lambs?

Meanwhile, Prugo said that he and his accomplices never discussed “why.” “We just did it. I know it sounds dumb, but Rachel just wanted the clothes. She wanted to look pretty.” As for himself, Prugo said, “I was just following Rachel … I loved her almost like a sister.”

Nick and Rachel

Nick Prugo met Rachel Lee in 2006 at Indian Hills, where he had transferred after being kicked out of Calabasas High School for excessive absences. He was a troubled kid who had been diagnosed with A.D.H.D., for which he was prescribed Concerta, and “anxiety issues,” for which he was given Zoloft. He said that Lee was “the first person I felt was, like, my best friend.” They became “inseparable,” in constant contact, phoning, IMing, texting.

She was a fashionable girl whom Prugo and Neiers describe as “spoiled” and “haughty.” She had troubles of her own; apparently she didn’t get along with her mother, Vickie Kwon, a North Korean immigrant and owner of two centers of the tutoring company Kumon. Prugo claims, “Rachel hates her stepfather,” whom her mother married when Lee was in her early teens. (Neither Lee nor Kwon responded to requests for comment.)

Around this time, Prugo said, he was also becoming estranged from his parents, Melva-Lynn and Frank, a senior vice president at IM Global, a film-and-television sales-and-distribution company, and the foreign sales agent for the low-budget blockbuster Paranormal Activity. “Me and my parents had a falling-out,” Prugo said, not wishing to elaborate. “I can’t blame them. Whatever I’ve done, it’s my responsibility.”

He said that he and his new friend, Lee, “bonded over fashion. I like fashion, I like clothes. I like to think that I’m a stylish guy.” He dreamed of designing his own line, as did Lee, who talked about attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. “A lot of the Hills girls went there.”

Throughout the 10th grade, Prugo said, they were a couple of “carefree kids,” “smoking weed, hanging out at Zuma Beach, going to parties with a lot of under-age kids doing beer pong.” And then, that summer, things started to change, when Prugo said Lee proposed they rob the house of a boy in Woodland Hills whom Prugo knew to be out of town. “I’m like, O.K., whatever, just wanting to please her.”

“I’m in the house,” he said, “walking back and forth, freaking out. I mean, it’s weird to go through somebody’s things.” But Lee, he said, was always “very into it, focused”—so relaxed that when they burglarized the home of Rachel Bilson, on May 9, Lee took the time to go into the bathroom and have a bowel movement.

At that first burglary in the Valley, Prugo said, Lee found a box with $8,000 in cash under a bed. Which calmed him down. “We each get four grand. Like, this isn’t so bad. We didn’t kill anybody.” The next day, they went shopping on Rodeo Drive.

Prugo said they fell into a nearly nightly ritual they called “checking cars”—taking credit cards and cash from unlocked Bentleys, Mercedeses, and other fancy rides parked in their neighborhood. The next day, they’d go shopping. “We’d go to, like, Kitson,” a Melrose boutique popular with starlets. “We’d walk in, stylized and beautiful. We’d use the cards—no one would question.”

Meanwhile, Prugo said, he was developing a cocaine habit, “so I was also stealing for drugs.” (Arrested for possession in 2009, he’s entered into a Deferred Entry of Judgment program, hoping to get the charge dismissed. He says he’s clean now.)

He says he doesn’t remember exactly why he and Lee decided to start burglarizing celebrities’ homes, except that “these were women with, like, fashion sense. Rachel watched The Hills, Gossip Girl—all those shows. She loved their clothes.” They started “checking up on celebrity Web sites. We’d be like a little research team.” They’d drive by celebrities’ homes to do surveillance, figuring out how to get in.

They picked Paris Hilton as their first victim, Prugo said, because they figured she was “dumb.” “Like, who would leave a door unlocked? Who would leave a lot of money lying around?”

One night in October of 2008, he says, he and Lee entered Hilton’s sprawling tile-roofed mansion in a gated community in the Hollywood Hills, opening the front door with a key they had found under the mat. “Stupid,” Prugo said, shrugging. He said he found the sensation of suddenly being in Hilton’s home “horrifying. There was that percentage of ‘Wow, this is Paris Hilton’s house,’ but as soon as I put my foot in the door I was just wanting to run out.”

He says he served as a lookout at the top of the stairs while Lee went into Hilton’s bedroom to search for valuables. “I was sweating unnaturally. Every five minutes, I was yelling, Let’s get the fuck out of here. She was like, It’s fine, it’s fine, let’s keep going.”

Lee took some expensive bras and a designer dress that night, he says (he can’t remember which; there would be so many). They took a bottle of Grey Goose vodka from Hilton’s “nightclub room.” They took “crumpled cash,” he claims, “fifties, hundreds,” from Hilton’s purses.

The idea was to take so little that the heiress wouldn’t notice—and so they could come back again. Hilton actually didn’t notice or at least didn’t report any of the Bling Ring burglaries until December 19, 2008, when Roy Lopez allegedly stole close to $2 million worth of her jewelry, stuffing it into one of her Louis Vuitton tote bags. Lopez has been charged with one count of residential burglary. His lawyer, David Diamond, says his client “did not steal anything” from Hilton.

“We found about, like, five grams of coke in Paris’s house” on another night, Prugo told police; he says they snorted it and left. Then they “drove around Mulholland, having the best time of our lives.”

“I don’t know why anyone would listen to allegations made by a self-confessed thief,” said Dawn Miller, a rep for Hilton.

My So-Called Real Life

At Alexis Neiers’s home in Westlake Village on the afternoon of her arraignment, the E! reality crew was filming a scene in which Neiers’s parents recount for their younger daughter, Gabrielle, what happened in court that day. Neiers’s mother, Andrea Arlington Dunn, and father, Mikel Neiers, stood in the living room, taking direction from E! supervising producer Gennifer Gardiner, who was feeding them lines: “Tell her, ‘Everything’s going to be O.K., Gabby.’”

“Everything’s going to be O.K., Gabby,” said Dunn, who was still dressed for court in a brown suit. A former Playboy Playmate, Dunn—now married to Jerry Dunn, a production designer for television—is a masseuse and holistic health-care practitioner. Their house, which sits on a rolling, manicured street, is decorated with religious talismans and floor-standing statues of Buddha which Dunn said she got at the closing of a Thai restaurant.

Mikel Neiers, Alexis’s father, a tall man in a blazer and jeans—a former director of photography on Friends who Alexis says “has been in the industry forever”—was looking rather shell-shocked. “He doesn’t really have a place right now,” Dunn said, explaining why her ex-husband sometimes lives with the family.

“I’ve had a lot of struggles with my dad falling off the face of this earth and not being a father,” Alexis had complained earlier. (Her father declined to comment on this.) Continuing on the theme of her difficulties, she said, “I had a boyfriend who was into drugs.”

Alexis’s “dysfunctional background” was the reason why, she said, she “related so well” to Tess Taylor, who sometimes also lives in the Neiers-Dunn household. Taylor, 20, a Playboy Cyber Girl, is still being investigated for her role in the Bling Ring burglaries, according to sources in the L.A.P.D. Taylor’s lawyer, Jeffery Rubenstein, had no comment.

Alexis met Taylor (a stage name; her real name is Adler), a dark-haired bombshell, in ballet class when they were toddlers. “We took her in” six years ago, Alexis said. “My mom kinda fell off the face of the planet,” Taylor said on the phone. She said she doesn’t know where her mother is. “I feel like she’s my other half,” said Alexis, “I love to go out and dance with my sister.” They can also be seen making out with each other in the straight-to-DVD teen flick Frat Party.

It was their ubiquity on the Hollywood club scene that got E! interested in the girls for their reality show, tentatively titled Pretty Wild, last year. The pilot—which airs in March; unfortunately, I may be in it, having been around while they were filming—includes a wild night in which Alexis and Taylor hit the club Wonderland in Hollywood with their friend rapper Mickey Avalon. “He’s such an awesome guy!” Alexis says.

The morning after, October 22, the L.A.P.D. showed up at Alexis’s door with a search warrant. In the house, cops found a Marc Jacobs handbag allegedly belonging to Rachel Bilson and a Chanel necklace allegedly belonging to Lindsay Lohan. Alexis denies stealing the items, saying, “I have receipts for everything.” The reality-crew cameras kept rolling as Alexis exited Van Nuys Jail that night after being bailed out on a $50,000 bond. Taylor was released after questioning.

It was through Taylor that Alexis had come to know Nick Prugo—who knew Taylor via mutual friends in the “Valley party scene.” (Taylor went to Oak View High School, while Alexis was home-schooled.) “I didn’t care for Nick,” Alexis said, “because he took all of Tess’s attention. There was a lot of jealousy between me and Tess and him.”

“Tess wanted me to be her little best friend,” said Prugo. “Tess and Alexis got into a fight about me.” He also claims that Rachel Lee was “jealous” of his friendship with the girls.

Alexis said Prugo told her and Taylor that he was a “stylist” for his father’s film company, which was presumably why he had access to the expensive designer clothes he would let the girls “borrow.” And that is why, Taylor explained, she could be seen in a tryout for a commercial for Axe body spray wearing a vest that cops say belongs to Rachel Bilson—because “Nick dressed me for the commercial.” Prugo maintains that Alexis and Taylor were aware the clothes were stolen, and made up the story about his being a stylist as a cover for Alexis’s mother.

“Nick really liked the life we had,” Alexis said. “He wanted to live like us. He wanted to tag along with us to the clubs we went to, like Apple, Guys & Dolls, Teddy’s, Ecco. It was known that we were out hanging out with Emile Hirsch and Leonardo DiCaprio—just, like, typical Young Hollywood.”

“They were the first people that brought me out to clubs,” Prugo allows.

Later in the afternoon, Gabby and Dunn were in the kitchen, filming a scene in which they were arguing about how to deal with Taylor and Alexis’s excessive partying. The producer, Gardiner, fed them lines: “‘You need to be a stronger parent, Mom!’ ‘These girls are out of control!’”

Alexis went onto the porch to smoke a cigarette. She started discussing the Bling Ring. “Rachel’s a klepto freak,” she said. “She was so manipulating, so conniving. Nick always did what she said. Rachel was in charge. She started it all. Nick, he was a dude—why would he be knocking off chicks’ houses?”

“The Beautiful, Gorgeous Things”

By the beginning of 2009, the Bling Ring was in full escalation mode. “While this activity started as a twisted adventure for Prugo and his small group of friends fueled by celebrity worship,” says the L.A.P.D. report, “it quickly mushroomed into an organized criminal enterprise.”

Between October and December of 2008 there had been four more burglaries of Hilton’s house. By February there were allegedly more people involved: Diana Tamayo, president of the class of 2008 at Indian Hills, an illegal Mexican immigrant, according to cops, voted “Best Smile,” and Courtney Ames, an old friend of Lee’s who went to Calabasas High School and whose stepfather is famed welterweight Randy Shields. “Wanna smoke a bluuunt,” Ames wrote on her Facebook page in November.

“I didn’t want all these people coming in,” Prugo said. “I found it odd that Rachel would want to involve more people.”

Still, he participated in the planning of the December 19, $2 million heist of Hilton’s jewelry, allegedly stolen by Roy Lopez, who cops say had been brought in by Ames. She and Lopez had worked together at Sagebrush Cantina, a bar-restaurant in Calabasas. (After Lopez was arrested, on October 22, he produced the majority of Hilton’s jewelry, which was returned to her. Lopez, cops say, had not had the criminal sophistication to fence it.)

I met Ames—a light-eyed girl with dyed black hair—at Art’s Deli on Ventura Boulevard one night in November. A friend of hers had told me she’d be there. “I didn’t do any of this,” she said flatly. “I’m not into that whole crowd that’s into fame.”

She has been charged with one count of residential burglary of Paris Hilton’s home. The L.A.P.D. has pictures of her at Les Deux—where she met her boyfriend, Johnny Ajar—wearing a Diane von Furstenberg leather jacket allegedly belonging to Hilton. Ames’s lawyer, Robert Schwartz, denies that she was involved in the burglaries.

The stuff, the designer goods—as Prugo said, “the beautiful, gorgeous things, like Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent”—was accumulating, and, according to Prugo, the kids were wearing it around the Valley and to Hollywood clubs. “Diana’s, like, entire personal wardrobe was made up of clothing she stole,” he said. “Patently false,” said her lawyer, Howard Levy. Tamayo has been charged with two counts of residential burglary of Lohan’s home and the attempted burglary of Ashley Tisdale’s.

The kids seemed to be insatiable—and fearless. They allegedly kept on robbing even after Audrina Patridge posted the surveillance video, believed to be of Lee and Prugo, on her Web site in February. Patridge had hoped that someone would come forward to identify the thieves, but, miraculously, no one did, even though the video was picked up by TMZ and ran on L.A.’s local news stations.

“I was watching KTLA and I saw us and I just broke down,” Prugo said. “Rachel made it seem like it was O.K.”

According to the L.A.P.D.’s report, the Bling Ring collectively burglarized Rachel Bilson a full six times in April and May, taking nearly $130,000 in property—so much stuff (clothing, jewelry, makeup, handbags), Prugo said, that they tried to unload some of it on the boardwalk at Venice Beach, scoring a few thousand dollars. In August, they allegedly robbed Brian Austin Green, but their real target was his live-in girlfriend, Megan Fox; Prugo said Lee liked her wardrobe.

Prugo also said that some of the kids continued to conduct surveillance on additional targets, including the homes of Disney stars Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Hilary Duff, and Vanessa Hudgens. Meanwhile, he said, he was becoming increasingly nervous about their activities—“worried, scared, just uneasy all the time, anxious, anxious.”

Lee may also have been growing concerned. In late July she moved to Las Vegas to live with her father, David Lee, an independent businessman from South Korea. Prugo helped her move, driving through the desert with her car filled up with bags of stolen property.

The Sting

But Rachel Lee couldn’t resist pulling off one last heist, Prugo said: “Rachel’s, like, biggest conquest was Lindsay Lohan. It was her ultimate fashion icon.”

Lee returned to L.A. from Vegas and, on the night of August 23, Prugo, Lee, and Tamayo allegedly burglarized Lohan’s Spanish-style home in the Hollywood Hills of close to $130,000 in clothes and jewelry. Lee and Tamayo were, “like, freaking out over Lindsay’s stuff,” Prugo said. “I didn’t even want to go to Lindsay’s, because I had a feeling if anything was taken,” in the way of surveillance videos, “it would be released.”

It was. On August 26, the L.A.P.D.—with Lohan’s permission—released her surveillance video to TMZ. Now there were two videos circulating (Lohan’s and Patridge’s), making it all but plain to see that they had captured images of the same people, and that there was a connection between the Hollywood Hills burglaries. Tips started pouring in as to the thieves’ identities. But police were already moving on information they had received from someone who said she overheard Lee and Prugo bragging of their exploits at a party. Cops used Facebook to ascertain that Lee and Prugo were “friends” with each other.

On October 22, two weeks after Prugo confessed, the L.A.P.D. was issued search warrants for Ajar, Tamayo, Ames, Neiers, Lopez, and Lee. They found Lee at her father’s Las Vegas home. “During the warrant service,” says the L.A.P.D. report, “Lee asked several officers if they would release her if she told them where ‘everything is.’”

“Hypothetically,” Lee allegedly said, “let’s say I might know where this property is located and who has it, how could that help me?”

“It is clear that Lee felt that she successfully removed all items of stolen property from the residence,” the report goes on. “However, when Lee saw” that cops had found a coat allegedly belonging to Lindsay Lohan and some topless pictures of Paris Hilton (stolen from Hilton’s unlocked safe) on the premises, “her mood instantly changed from being calm and collected to instantly becoming nearly hysterical, physically ill, and gagging as though she were about to vomit.

“Lee asked Detective [Leanne] Hoffman,” of the L.A.P.D., “if she had spoken to the victims. Hoffman replied that she had spoken to all of the victims. Lee became excited and asked, ‘What did Lindsay say?’”

Lee has been charged with three counts of residential burglary of the homes of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Audrina Patridge.

Postscript

It isn’t clear yet whether there will be a trial in the case of the Bling Ring. If there is, all the celebrity victims may be called to appear, and it’s possible that Nick Prugo will be the prosecution’s star witness. It isn’t a role he relishes—he’s been called “a rat,” although many other members of the Bling Ring told police of each other’s involvement as well—but, he said, “I’m just trying to help the police in any way I can.”

Awaiting the resolution of the case, Prugo is living at home, attending the University of Phoenix online, and seeing a therapist weekly. Since Lee was arrested, he says, he has not had any contact with her. “It was a real friendship, and this whole thing’s been really hard,” he said. “I still love her.”

He said he believes that confessing was “the turning point in my life. I want to make it clear that everything I had in my possession I gave back. It was really hard for me to do that, but the stuff wasn’t mine anyway, so I’m a piece of shit for taking it.

“I’m just really trying to make whatever amends I can, especially to these celebrities that I victimized,” he said. “I really want them to know that I’m sorry. I’m not really sure how I’m going to do that yet. But I really plan on making some formal apology to them. I don’t know how they’ll react. I mean, to have someone in your house, where it’s your most personal of sanctuaries … ” He seemed at a loss for words.

He was wearing a pair of good-looking shoes, shiny black sneakers. I asked him where he got them. “A thrift store,” he said ruefully. “Thirteen bucks.”

Written by Nancy Jo Sales a Vanity Fair contributing editor.

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – The World’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – The World’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – The World’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – God’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – God’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – God’s View

The wedding bells for two of Nigeria’s finest gospel musicians, Eben and Jahdiel is ringing louder than ever.

Ahead of their wedding ceremony this weekend, the couple today performed traditional rites (aka ‘native law and custom’) somewhere at the Ikota, Lekki axis of Lagos. This is fondly called a traditional wedding in Nigeria. It is common in Nigeria for couples to conduct a traditional wedding (sometimes engagement) before the church ceremony.

The Church wedding ceremony is scheduled to take place this Saturday, November 30, 2013 at D.G.M, Plot 4, Off Road 16, Ikota Villa Estate, Lekki Ajah Expressway. Reception follows at The Manor Event Centre, Admiral Ayinla Way, Lekki Phase 1, 3rd Round about, Opposite Treasure Garden Estate, Lagos.

Jahdiel recently released a single ‘Jara’ (Download here).

Well, this is obviously one of the “jara’s” that follows seeking God’s Kingdom.

The couple Eben and Jahdiel looked bright and elated at the ceremony.

We wish them a happy married life.

follow on Twitter: @freemanslounge

Charly Boy

Charly Boy

He is popularly known for his Music and addiction to the biker lifestyle, He is the Son of one of Nigeria’s most revered Justices, He is a Grand father, yet he has a Wardrobe full of Jeans (a cool Grand Dad). He is Charles Oputa A.K.A Charly Boy. Today he has decided to admonish the Nigerian Youth with this thought provoking and challenging write up; enjoy and be inspired.

One of the many things God blessed me with, would be the ability to go to sleep at will even if my house is on fire. I consider that as a gift because, this environment has murdered sleep for most Nigerians. How can we sleep when things are all falling apart around us? It saddens my heart to see the appalling state of our nation and the quick progressive decline in the quality of governance and the management of the polity. Naija as it were has gone to the dogs and really, it’s only a matter of time before shit finally hits the fan. Because, we must hit rock-bottom before we can start to think of a Nigeria that is workable.

I have noticed lately that I am fast losing my gift, being able to fall asleep at will. It’s no longer happening for me like it use to. Thank God, I haven’t gotten to the point of popping different kinds of pills to be able to get some sleep. These days, I seem so consumed with the thoughts of how all of these injustices, poor leadership, the frustration, hopelessness, and despair amongst young Nigerians will all be resolved. How much longer can we all go on as if all is well.  The situations as appalling as they are reminds me of Asa’s song, “There is Fire on the Mountain, and no one seems to be on the Run” How much longer will it take our leaders to realise that they are sitting on a time Bomb. How much longer will it take the few good men and exceptional Nigerian youth to stop hiding under the bed, while the vile, the fraud, the gangsters, the 419ers, the thieves take over the polity?

Yesooooooo, we are all guilty, guilty of inaction, guilty of procrastination, guilty of being scared by our own shadow. Yet, we complain, talking bla bla bla all over the place and doing nothing. That is why the youth of this country are taken for granted. Look at how our once strong and vibrant youths have grown powerless, and have even become willing instrument and tools in the hands of vile and wicked politicians. Our young people have been so battered physically that, they have lost the urgency to protest. How can they not know that the consequences of corruption, wasting of resources and stealing affect them, the youth more than anyone else? They have not realized yet that they are the ones who can’t go to school, and that most of their parents have been impoverished by this shit-system, and for the millions who graduate from the university, half baked; where are the jobs? Unreliable statistics say that about 28million young people are unemployed and about 5million join annually as the army of the unemployed youth grows, drugs, violence, despair and hopelessness have become a permanent fixtures in the lives of our dear youth. This is the Nigeria of today. A country so endowed, yet 60 percent of Nigerians are living below 1dollar/ 25cents a day. What a shame, what business has my country with poverty? How far, great Nigerian youths?

 The old foxes, old fraudsters, many of those who had been in leadership position in the past, wrote this tragic script, they are still very much around, jostling for position and power. Most annoying is when they pay lip services saying, “the future belongs to the youth”, which youth? The one they cloned, or the ones yet unborn. Because all these old foxes that should be put to pasture are still dragging it with the young people not ready to quit the stage, unless they die there. They have become deaf, dumb and blind to the pains and sufferings of ordinary Nigerians.  The criminal nature of most of our leaders is what has given impetus to criminal gangs, kidnappers, militants, terrorists, money doublers, gangsters who prey on innocent citizens as effectively as the yahoo yahoo leaders’ prey on Nigerians. Nigeria has become their slot machine. This is how they have weakened our youth, because even the leaders so far, lack creativity. All they have produced for the past 38yrs is mediocrity. The youth cannot make good decisions and hence can’t make good leadership, double wahala. These are the kind of leaders our youth emulate, being schooled in the arts of making it by all means even if they have to sell their mothers. Most of these yahoo leaders are getting rich at the expense of the masses and Naija youth. What can they produce, except buy houses, cars, posting their new acquired jet planes on Facebook and all over the social media, keeping billions in bank accounts, while the youths and the masses suffer and the environment remains in shambles? How far great Nigerian youth?

 I can feel the growing resentment the masses have towards the leadership, it is ‘us’ against them. The youth may seem not ready for a revolution, but the one thing they have in common that cuts across ethnic and religious differences is a genuine yearning for Change through a revolution. A revolution that will see the end of this rampart injustices and authority stealing that has left us poor and hopeless. They also want to see how the mighty and the once untouchables, those responsible for bringing Nigeria to its knees face the music if possible with their blood. The youth obviously don’t believe in Nigeria anymore, even the unbelievers know we can no longer carry on like this.  People argue that the youth are not capable of retrieving their stolen future ever again. Just like we never believed that a Nigerian for whatever reason could strap himself with bombs and blow himself up. When Boko Haram started, many including myself believed that all who were involved must have been fanatics from neighbouring countries. Loh and behold, they were many Nigerian youth involved. For them, it was better than dying like a chicken. What about the naija guy who failed to blow himself and the plane up, in far away America? The army of desperate youth is growing, not to talk of the kind of arms that have come into this country; God help us. For those who still think that the Nigerian youth are too disorganized and weak to confront these demons, I say, it’s possible. They have a common enemy, namely; hunger, poverty, hopelessness, frustration and a strong satanic hatred for our leaders and elites. You may be asking yourself who will lead this inevitable revolt. For many youth, the power is in their hands right now as you read this; the instrument of mobilization and you know what? It has started.

As humans, we communicate by expressing our feelings, our thoughts based on how we perceive certain situations. Most of the youth have become aware of the problem affecting them, most of them live on the social media highway to while away their time since millions of them are out of jobs or poses the faintest idea on what else to do. They are stranded, and most pitiful is that nobody cares. This is where young people fellowship now to escape from the brutality of a harsh environment caused by those “bigger “than Nigeria. Once people become aware of a common need or problem through interaction and discussion, it is easier for them to create a mobilizing strategy towards a common goal. From the bush, the house, in the car, or even from across the seas, the exceptional ones will control millions through the social highway networks. I can feel the rage, the anger and the strong satanic hatred for our kleptomaniac leaders. I pray for the seemly fragile, deflated Nigerian youth, the victims of bad and selfish leadership. Young Nigerians; no matter where they are from, all face the same sad and evil reality created and perfected by a common enemy. We all know the problem of Nigeria; they say a country deserves the kind of leadership it gets, hmmmmm… Nigerian youth… how far?

 Where are the exceptional youth who will remedy us from this hopeless situation? If it’s not road accidents because of bad roads, it is incessant strikes because government still has not lived up to its promise to inspire the teachers. However, their children are all abroad while ours study with candle light and kerosene lamps in a country capable of providing power for all. Inflation is tearing families apart and causing parents to abandon their duties. Haba, the iniquities are just too much to recount, it’s not fair in the eyes of God. As these yahoo yahoo people continue to rob us of our lives and future, ironically they are facilitating this revolution. When the chips are down, the youth will no longer think on religious lines or ethnic differences; they will be so filled with hatred, vengeance and anger. They will vent this on all those who have brought them sorrow, tears and a bleak future. There will be a spark as young people pour out on the streets hunting for their enemies and serving them a dose of mob justice. The time and how, I know not. But yes, it is boiling over; the handwriting is not only on the walls but on the faces of the angry youths I see on a daily basis. Nigerian youth… how far? na una hand Nigeria dey. Beat the drum for change and a better life. Let’s stop blaming our leaders and elders. If they have failed us, we can’t afford to fail ourselves. Let us use our strength to cut off corruption in this land. Make una no fall my hand…

Na Charlyboy D Areafada dey yarn

Information reaching us at The Freeman’s Lounge, say that popular clothier, Remi Lagos is dead. The renowed dress maker, reportedly died after surgery in London, after battling with cancer for a while.

Remi Lagos

Born Oluremi Osholake turned 51 this year. She was a favourite of most socialites in Lagos, as her beautiful traditional attires stood them out at functions, in and around the state.

One of her friends, Funmi Iyanda, confirmed it on Twitter. She wrote: “My dearest friend Ms Remi Osholake (Remi Lagos) passed on dis morning. She had cancer. She was a remarkable, creative force to the end. Life is.”

She also Tweeted “My soul is weeping blood. Remi won’t want that but I hurt, I hurt.. She was so brilliant, so full of life, so friggn funny. Life is..”

She also started an Hash-tag on her behave on twitter, which has had several individual of both the high and low class talking on  #thingsremiusedtosay
The Freeman’s Lounge Love and we will miss you….. ride on to celestial bliss Remi Lagos


Fashion, from ages past, has been an aspect of culture that evokes the very spirit, nature and power of the people that own it. The Nigerian spirit and culture has always been a very vibrant, colorful, flamboyant and an irrepressible one. This fullness of life and diverse richness is hard to capture, tame and reintroduce into the current trends of the fashion world but some unique fashion icons has been able to do just that.

All over the world, the Nigerian culture is being borrowed because these kings and divas has been able to share our love for life, not smothering it with the western fashion, but introducing it as its own strong voice. Below are our top ten Nigerian fashion designers. I choose to call them conquerors!

Deola Sagoe

This Nigerian diva is a believer of an age old colorful tradition which she translates into the many layers and complexities of her remarkable designs.  Deola’s celebration of the African glamour and prints has gained her international fans like Oprah and Will Smith. She has also gained a lot of recognition for her work with awards such as the MNET/ Anglo Gold African designs 2000 awards.

And in her own words, she is a woman with many layers ‘much like the multilayered designs I craft.’ These layers consist of motherhood (mother to three wonderful children), degrees from the University of Miami, University of Lagos and Masters in Finance and Management. Her works speak for themselves. She has also been able to give back to her people through the program “Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food” which was initiated by the ‘United Nations World Food Program’. She continues to celebrate Nigeria.

Zizi Cardow

A multi-award winning designer, Zizi Cardow has been able to sell to the international scene, our cultures and fabrics. Since she launched her label ‘Zizi’ in 2000, her list of awards is over flowing and keeps growing. Zizi’s designs have walked many a catwalks from Milan to Paris, Cape Town, USA and beyond carrying with it the true Nigerian vibrancy and flavor.

She has gained as clients and fans, a lot of Trendsetters and first ladies. Zizi was, in November last year, awarded a chieftaincy title to celebrate her as an ambassador of the society. She has given back so much to the world through so many mentorship programs and has also been rewarded for these involvements with awards like African Role Model Leadership Gold Award (2007), Pillar of National Development Gold Award (2007), Nigeria Enterprise Award for Excellence (2008) and Great Legend of Africa Gold Award (2008).

Folake Folarin Coker.

Folake Coker is the founder of the world famous brand Tiffany Amber. At an early age Folake was exposed to different cultures. Born in Lagos and schooled all over Europe (Switzerland, Scotland and England), she developed a curiosity for cultures which she later channeled into her love for fashion. She has been globally recognized because of the depths of her colorful creations and it’s the potency of these creations that has made her the only African designer to grace the Mercedes Fashion week in New York two years in a row. It is the reviews from international media agencies like CNN that has stamped the brand as, successfully, a true international brand.

She has given back to her roots through projects like ‘Made in Africa’ created by Vogue Italia in partnership with Yoox.com as a way of selling the African market to the world. Her designs are unique pieces for the everyday woman. A wife, a mother, a lawyer, a businesswoman and a designer, she is an African heroine!

Duro Olowu

With a name so big, the first lady of America, Michelle Obama, wears him; Duro Olowu has got to be the King of Nigerian fashion! He has truly taken everything that is the ancient Nigerian culture, spirit and turned that uniqueness into a classy, elegant fashion statement.  His designs have been characterized as colorful, controversial combinations of African prints in a classic seventies tailoring. Absolutely gorgeous! These wonderful creations have gained him clients like, Michelle Obama, Uma Thurman, Linda Evangelista and the list goes on. Based in London and of a Nigerian-Jamaican heritage, this lawyer by profession has allowed his rich cultural exposure to be the stepping stone to his success. He has received lots of awards and has enjoyed a lot of recognition globally. His favorite quote of mine is: “My job is not dictating to women what they should wear; it is presenting them with beautiful options.”-Duro Olowu, The Independent (London).

 

Ohimai Atafo

Ohimai Atafo is an award winning Nigerian male designer and owns Mai Atafo Inspired clothing outfit. Due to his designs that aim to portray the Nigerian Man’s unique personality, he was accredited as the Hottest New Male Designer at the City People Fashion and Style Award last year. The buzz surrounding his name has continued to resound as he came out with amazing designs at the Arise Magazine Fashion Week 2012 in Nigeria. With his wedding line ‘Weddings by Mai’ and creation like Funke Akindele’s wedding gown, he has also stolen the hearts of his female fans as much as he had that of his male fans. Having being in the business of fashion for five years, Mai is creating giant waves and is definitely not slowing down.

Frank Oshodi

He is one Nigerian designer who is a true picture of the dynamic diversity which is Nigeria. Starting his career as a model for many fashion houses like Dakova to Nikki Africanna and TV commercials like Macleans then becoming a model manager; Frank Oshodi has since ventured into areas like choreography and finally found his niche in makeup with his label, House of Bunor and Fashion designing. His name reached the household mark when he was selected by Silverbird to be the make-up artist and designer that finally led Agbani Darego to her reign as Miss World 2001. Since then the name Frank Oshodi has been associated with simple elegance and effortless beauty.

He has since spear headed events that brought Nigerian fashion to the forefront with programs like the West African Fashion Week 2008. He still remains a force to reckon with in the Nigerian fashion scene.

Ade Bakare

With twenty successful years in the fashion scene, Ade Bakare is a name too familiar to most London and Nigerian high society belles. Evening gowns so elegant, day gowns so exquisite and wedding gowns so lush it’s a picture that makes a heart bleed! Yes, Ade Bakare’s creations have that effect on every lady. With fabrics that flow and finishes that are nothing but perfection, Ade Bakare is one of the Nigerian designers that make Nigeria proud. He started his line in London, making clothes for boutiques in the UK and France. He finally opened salons in London and Nigeria which has since been tending to his high end clientele till date. He has also added a perfume line called Breeze and a jersey line called Ade Breeze to his many achievements.

He has won so many awards among which are awards from Brides (a Conde Naste publication) and The Paris academy. As his way of giving back to the fashion community, he has written a lot of fashion articles and currently writes his column ‘Camera Obscura’  for Le Vogue.

Lisa Folawiyo

Most Nigerian women are familiar with the name Lisa Folawiyo, the creative mind behind ‘Jewel by Lisa’. Her niche is the transformation of the Ankara wax prints into a bejeweled treasure. Prints from the fabric is cut and delicately embellished for an added elegance to what can only be known as the Nigerian ‘national’ fabric. She has also ventured into the production of her own line of fabrics and accessories ranging from jewelries to purse and much more. Her diffusion line ‘J Label’ promotes the Nigerian culture and flare with the combination of Afro Pop and urban cool designs that is very amazing

A graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nnsuka and a self made designer, her natural flare for fashion and unique sense of style has led her to great heights. She has showcased internationally in the New York Fashion week 2010, Paris Fashion week 2010 etc. She has been reviewed internationally in Media houses Gotham, Style.com, Women wear Daily and more. Among her celebrity fans are Beyonce, Tasha Smith, Kelis and Eve.

Lola Faturoti

This Ondo princess has become quite a sensation in New York. She said “I got interested in fashion because my grandmother was a designer, she designed Nigerian traditional clothes. That was my first introduction to fashion.” So with this inspiration from her roots, she came to New York, to take the fashion scene by storm. Inspired by the Obama campaign, she created the Obama print dress with the words ‘Olowa gba President Barrack Obama’ boldly printed on it. This brought her into the fashion lime light in the US. Her ability to mix prints and create clothes that speak so vividly of her origin is Lola’s niche.

Raised in Ondo and later schooled in London, Lola after working in many clothing stores in USA, relocated to Milan to fine tone her talents and has since been a name in Nigerian fashion. She is full of the African rhythm and inspired by the passion for African fashion!

Soares Anthony

Definitely a designer to watch out for, this young Lagosian has created pieces that can make an ordinary Nigerian man look like a multimillion dollar businessman.  His very suave men clothing line ‘Soares Anthony’ is dedicated to creating a picture of sophistication and opulence. He is inspired by Nigerian fabrics with the tailoring of Japanese excellence. Not only are his styles unconventional, they are also very attractive in a masculine kind of way.

Soares Anthony, a bachelor’s degree holder, has been working earnestly and his efforts have paid off with awards. His pieces have been won by very affluent politicians and have been distributed to London, France and the USA.  He also owns a fashion magazine called SG2 which celebrates Nigerian fashion. Soares has been giving back to the Nigerian fashion industry by running a program that helps teach young Nigerian designers what they need to make their work of competent international standards. It will be a delight to watch him grow to his heights.

There it is. Top ten Nigerian fashion designer who love and celebrate our culture through fashion!