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The World of Celebrity Swag: A Starpulse Writer Gets Inside Access

September 24th, 2008 1:44pm EDT
Klub Nico shoesAwards season is making its triumphant return to Hollywood and that means the return of the "Swag Suite." For those who don't know, the term "swag" is an acronym for Stuff We All Get. There's a bit of confusion as to who this collective "we" refers to. Last time I checked I didn't have designers falling all over themselves to give me free stuff. But this year I was one of the chosen few to be included in this illusive "we" as I was invited to my very first swag suite.

Let me explain swag suite as I see it from my perspective as innocent Tinseltown bystander: From September to February there are numerous awards shows, such as the Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards and Academy Awards. The good people of "the industry" love any excuse to party and find it to be even more satisfying when they are celebrating their own brilliance, so they commemorate the numerous nominations and ceremonies every way they can think of. Starting with the Emmy's, the calendars of Hollywood's power players are filled with various luncheons, parties and rituals unique to Tinseltown. One of those rituals is the swag suite.

I was invited to one of the most popular suites of the season, Melanie Segal's Platinum Publicity Celebrity Emmy House, which was held in a private residence with views of the Sunset Strip. This was not just an afternoon about free stuff, as donations were collected at the door to benefit Brad Pitt's Make It Right NOLA foundation. Many kudos to Segal, as her suite is one of the few in town that includes a charitable organization. (Little known fact: it's hard to get big name celebrities to the swag suites because they just don't need the free stuff for all the hassle it can be for going to one, such as making small talk, posing for multiple pictures holding different products, etc.)

After the requisite red carpet photos with my celebrity friend (and my reason for getting invited in the first place), we grabbed our bags and gave ourselves over to the wonderful world of swag. Upon opening the door to the impressive manse in which the event was held, all of my senses were greeted by the bevy of goodies. My swag savvy friend (and member of the illustrious "we") grabbed a host to show us around the house and facilitate the awkwardness of hovering by a table of stuff you are interested in and waiting to be noticed.

Our first stop was at the Perry Ellis table where my friend picked up some of their new men's cologne and a lovely polo for the gentleman in her life. This is where I learned that despite my best efforts I was still not on the "we" list. Seems vendors were alerted to who was "someone" by the color of our wristbands. My pink wristband deemed me a hanger on. As is often the case in Hollywood, I was so close yet so far.

From there we continued on to the 20th Century Fox display where we were both presented with a three pack of DVDs that were distributed by the studio. My pack included X-Men, Grandma's Boy, and The Transporter, none of which I have seen, so a good haul in my opinion!

On our way to some of the more big ticket items we picked up some small gifts: including bulk boxes of Wrigley 5 gum and Palmer's Cocoa Butter, where I got up the most delicious lip balm from their lip butter line: dark chocolate and peppermint!

Then it was on to a girl's best friend: SHOES! My friend was drooling over a pair of shoes from Klub Nico and within moments the designer had brought over a pair of the dark brown Vitoria style in her size. Other clothing lines on hand were Local Celebrity, Dussault, and Chip and Pepper.

To be sure that our tresses were looking as good as our new clothes, upscale Beverly Hills salon Juan Juan was on hand giving away gift certificates to be used for any service in their salon. I'm quite intrigued by the Brazilian straightening system. Their rep was explaining that it leaves the hair with more body than the popular Japanese system that makes the hair completely flat. I know what I'll be using my gift on!

After picking up some beautifully wrapped, and even better smelling, soaps from Australian soap company Mor, it was time for some refreshments and relaxation. On our way to the bar we came across a photo booth, similar to those usually found in amusement parks and beach boardwalks. We started talking to Carl Kasalek, one of the partners in the company Foto Cabina, which rents out the booths for private events. We hopped into the booth, put on our best Zoolander faces, and snapped a shot. The booths are most commonly rented out for weddings, which is a FANTASTIC alternative to the scented candle or tchotchke given out at so many fetes only to be disposed of shortly after.

Finally we settled down for some Dove chocolates and drinks courtesy of female owned company Dirty Blonde Cocktails. The company is the first of its kind, making single serving champagne and fruit infused drinks - a kind of a grown-up version of the wine coolers we used to drink in high school. The Rasperry Flirtini flavor I had was delicious, and my friend raved about her Grapefruit Mimosa.

After a long hard afternoon of "shopping" for free stuff it was time to call it a day. On our way out we discovered a jewelry company called Bullets 4 Peace. The jewelry is made up from actual used bullets, combined with stones and glass to create beautiful designs certain to become a hot topic of conversation. A portion of proceeds go to various charities that benefit children who are affected by war.

After a day of gifting ourselves it was a nice note to end the afternoon on and remind us of all we had to be grateful for, swag or no swag.

Story by Marna Palmer
Starpulse contributing writer