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Saturday, February 9, 2008


The Model Whisperer!

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DURING Fashion Week, any given table at any trendy restaurant might yield characters worthy of a novel about the ephemeral value of youth and beauty. It would be airplane reading, quickly adapted for cable television. “I’ll Never Be Alone,” it might be called.

Open with a casual glance at the gray-haired man at a sidewalk table at Downtown Cipriani, who appears to be wearing a rodent pelt as an ascot as he quaffs white wine and nuzzles a raven-haired model with a British accent.

Let your eye flit a few blocks uptown to a booth against the south wall of the Coffee Shop on Union Square, where a dark-haired man in a baseball cap and sunglasses is eating herbed French fries desultorily with a fork, while Samantha, a next-to-the-last-round loser from the eighth “America’s Next Top Model,” snuggles against him.

Finally, track a few tables over to the banquette near the hostess station. Zoom in on Oscar Batori, who has just turned 21.

He is 6-foot-3, lean and English, with a faintly menacing sharpness to his face, which bears a resemblance to that of a young Mick Jagger.

Two years ago, Mr. Batori was working as a male model earning about $75 a day, sharing an apartment with others and eating ramen noodles for dinner. Two years from now, who knows where he will be. But last week, he was in his element: 21 and good-looking, during a week when youth and beauty hold full value.

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