Happy New Gear!

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Predicting the future is risky business–especially when folks can easily judge for themselves how your crystal-ball gazing turned out. But our intrepid team of reporters was up to the challenge. So, read on for our top choices, best hopes and educated guesses about what consumers will want to wear, eat, drink and play in the days, weeks and months ahead.


Even as temperatures drop, the fashion forecast is already heating up as flashy items for spring hit store shelves. The most eagerly anticipated accessory is a pair of Pharrell Williams– designed LOUIS VUITTON SUNGLASSES. Inspired by Brian de Palma’s Scarface, they are big and bold and bear the inevitable LV logo in hard-to-miss gold. Also a must for spring: TOD’S WEDGE SHOE in citrus colors like orange and green. To finish the look, Christian Dior designer John Galliano has produced a special line of SNUG-FITTING JACKETS inspired by Dior’s 1950s version. Galliano has cut the jackets out of funky fabrics like stonewashed denim, brocade and cargo khaki, giving them a modern edge.


The trade-off for performance and luxury used to be lousy gas mileage, and it still is for most cars. But eco-luxury has become the hottest trend in the auto industry, and the latest hybrids from both Honda and Toyota’s LEXUS division are all about going green in pulse-racing style. Honda’s new hybrid Accord, which went on the market in December, packs 255 h.p.–15 h.p. more than the conventional V6–and comes with luxuries like a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, power windows–and even an electronic noise-dampening system. Not to be outdriven, Lexus plans to roll out a hybrid SUV in April, the RX 400h, generating 270 h.p. and up to 27.6 m.p.g. in city-highway driving. It’s off to a fast start, with 11,000 vehicles already presold.


Why have multiple speakers when one unit will do? The Yamaha Sound Projector YSP-1 (due out in March) is a $1,500 panel that takes the place of five speakers, bouncing sound to all corners of a room by manipulating sound waves. You still need a subwoofer, but it’s great for tight spaces and people who don’t like wires all around. Camera lovers, smile and say cheese to the OLYMPUS M:ROBE MR-500I, due in January. You can think of this as an iPod with a built-in camera: it has a 20-GB hard drive for music and photos, and a 3.7-in. color LCD screen for viewing pictures. It can combine still shots with music and make funky slide shows that include zooming and panning. Also look for the release next year of the PSP, a portable PlayStation. The new gizmo’s short battery life may annoy some, but the buzzed-about player could pose a credible threat to the Nintendo Game Boy.


The cynic’s adage is true: If there is more than one of any film or TV show, it will soon be a DVD boxed set. So, sure, you can own the American Pie trilogy or Father Murphy: Season 2. But there are better uses for your player, money and capacity for wonder. The great Japanese anime auteur HAYAO MIYAZAKI is packaging three of his sublime early films–Nausicaä of the Valley Wind, Porco Rosso and The Cat Returns–all with A-list English-language voice casts (Feb. 22). Josephine Baker,

the girl from St. Louis who wowed Paris as an erotic free spirit, beguiles again in a Kino collection (April) that includes Siren of the Tropics, Zouzou and Princess Tam-Tam. Another form of volcanic energy was unleashed in the ’50s TV shows headlined by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. A package of their zaniest work, When TV Was Funny (Feb. 8), should prove that the French are not fou in their amour de Jer. This year will mark 50 years since the death, at 24, of the movies’ all-time tragic man-boy, James Dean. A DVD will package his three starring films–East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant–as well as a new documentary assessing Dean’s uncanny staying power. For a recent expression of dramatic power on a single disc, get the DVD of HBO’s Emmy-winning Something the Lord Made (Jan. 25), with striking performances by, left, MOS DEF and ALAN RICKMAN.


Pantheon, the publisher behind such serious-minded comic books as Persepolis, continues to lead the way. In February the house will release Posy Simmonds’ GEMMA BOVARY, a graphic novel that updates the Flaubert classic, turning it into a satire on modern mores. In October the publisher will collect into a single volume the series Black Hole, Charles Burns’ inky creepfest about a plague that infects teenagers during the 1970s. And the summer will see the release of The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar, a philosophically inclined French comic artist. Splashy comics from other publishers include Lost Girls (Top Shelf, summer) by Alan Moore (author of The Watchmen) and Melinda Gebble, an erotic fantasy that’s pricey ($75) and edgy (the publisher says the work “seeks to reinvent pornography as something exquisite”). Bizarro World (DC Comics, February) will feature many alternative comic artists giving their take on DC’s superheroes. And Pyongyang (Drawn & Quarterly, September) will chronicle cartoonist Guy Delisle’s trip to North Korea’s capital in 2000.

For those looking for more practical reads, Jack Canfield knows a thing or two about success. After all, he’s a co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which has sold more than 80 million books worldwide. His latest entry is the quintessential self-help book–THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES: HOW TO GET FROM WHERE YOU ARE TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE. Can Canfield do it again, or will he be in the soup?


Even after the holidays, there will be plenty of fresh ways to eat, drink and be merry. New ORIEL WINES will be making a marketing push in ’05 to promote a single label that provides wines from all over the world (including Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Chile and the U.S.). The idea: you won’t have to remember the name of some obscure region or château when looking for a moderately priced good wine; instead, you can rely on one brand that does the choosing for you. As for edibles, in the coming months raw fish may not be just for sushi restaurants anymore. Western chefs are devoting menus to tartares, carpaccio, crudo and all sorts of uncooked flesh. At BAR TONNO in New York City, chef Scott Conant serves nothing but raw fish, Italian style, like orata rossa with baby chanterelles and leeks, below.

Meanwhile, in March celeb chef and Food Network star Bobby Flay is opening Bar Americain in New York City, which will feature regional American food. And in Las Vegas, Aqua restaurant is being reworked as Michael Mina Bellagio, with chef Mina infusing the menu with the distinctive flavor combinations from his signature restaurant in San Francisco. Perhaps the surest bet in a city that loves to gamble: the new Michael Mina Bellagio will be worth checking out.

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