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November 22, 2004 -- There's nothing like a little high-fashion to warm up the winter, so here's a look at what the style magazines have in their latest offerings.

Harper's Bazaar uses a clean white cover to sell its covergirl Catherine Zeta-Jones, also all in white, with a story revealing her seduction secrets. As usual, its cover also promises to inform on what's in/what's out, an event that seems to occur almost every week in New York. The current Best Dressed issue gives 645 ideas to help someone attain that elusive goal of looking good and, more importantly, looking better than the next woman.

W teases and delights with new "It" girl Daria modeling the latest fashions, a recap of the European runways and an inside look at Dries Van Noten's latest lineup, featuring floral-printed skirts and colorful dresses. For meatier fare, Liam Neeson discusses his controversial role as Alfred Kinsey, the researcher whose 1948 study on human sexuality scandalized America. There's also a fun interview with Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick in which the star couple expound on Botox ("it's freaking frightening") and on being actors.

Cate Blanchett graces the cover of Vogue's December cover, a silver-and-gold design that appears as washed out as the actress' much-hyped complexion. The feature of the uber-acclaimed actress inside is equally as vibrant and is really only for the most avid Blanchett junkies. Anna Wintour also serves up a feature on tennis heartthrob Roger Federer, a way-too-serious piece on actor Gael Garcia Bernal (hey, Sarah Kerr, that's why they call it acting), and a somewhat in spired story of In dia's AIDS epidemic and its effect on women (which they teased on the cover under a headline for a treatise on eyeliner). It's all very usual. But then there are Patrick Demarche lier's incredible photos of model Daria Werbowy on some island in the South Pacific, more than 24 pages, and you remember what the magazine does best.

In-Style's December issue is more like an encyclopedia than a magazine. While nearly half of the 624-page volume is advertisements, the fashion magazine is still chock full of content. Among the worthwhile reads is the up-close piece on Renee Zellweger, who graces the cover. In it, the newly brunette A-list actress discusses the challenges of maintaining a life- career balance, her contribution to the fight against breast cancer and her aching urge to nest. In an accompanying piece entitled "Shining Stars," In-style honors Zellweger and other celebrities (including Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek and more) who give back for a better world. Elsewhere, the celebrity home tour features are a snore. (Do we really care about ER's Maura Tier ney's new pad?)

Time takes a look at the coolest inven tions of 2004 and gives all the detail anyone could want on things from SpaceShipOne, the first civilian spacecraft, to RheoKnee, an advanced prosthetic that learns the fine points of its owner's movements. On the hard news front, it asks whether Condi Rice is independent enough to run the State Department, wonders if Porter Goss is purging the CIA, tells how the Taliban is back in business in Pakistan, and examines the stress-related problems of U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Newsweek's cover on the ABC hit Desperate Housewives briefly describes why the women-ridiculing show works: it's fun and features women in underwear. It trots out clichés (catty, hot) to describe the show's stars, then lards out the rest of the piece by recycling the Nicolette Sheridan flap over her bare back on a Monday Night Football commercial (where she showed less skin than you can see in a red-state restaurant on a Saturday night). Don't miss "The Hot Sound of Hate," about Panzerfaust Records' plan to develop a market of rac ist "white power" kids to buy its re cords.

The rede sign continues to roll through New York as Adam Moss puts his stamp on the design as well as the stuff on the shelves. A sluggish Intelligencer is saved by a Chris Smith hit on how Mike Bloomberg's personal dislike for Cablevision's Jim Dolan may be helping to give the wooden mayor more of a personality. The gift guide is a nice, easy-to-peruse catalog, but a few more items below the $500 range might have done a lot to keep us merry. The best features are a riveting look at one-time Gap-ster Mickey Drexler at the helm of J.Crew, and at the opposite end of the social spectrum, a gritty crime story on the murder of a shady diamond dealer. It's not enough to say, New York — with its big, old-fashioned logo — is back in late '60s form, but at least it's moving in the right direction.

We know The New Yorker's special cartoon issue is a great way to energize an endangered form of expression — the pointed and often-politicized cartoon. And we love the sophisticated cartoons, but, please, in moderation. This week's Talk of the Town returns to a familiar theme: even as American forces mop up in places like Fallujah, they don't have the troop power to maintain the peace in battles they've already won. Jonathan Franzen contributes a first-person view of his own cartoon experiences with Charlie Brown. What's the point? It's the classic famous-guy-writes-about — absolutely nothing. It's just the kind of unchecked writing that kept him unfamous all those years. We can't wait 'til editor David Remnick and the boys get back from break to once again tell us what's happening in Iraq, the Middle East, America and our city.

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