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Shiny Statuettes Are Just One Kind of Loot

February 21, 2001|ANN O'NEILL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tonight's Grammy Awards show will be very, very good to the Ritchie family. When it comes to those now ubiquitous awards show gift baskets, they've hit the material mother lode.

For Madonna--or Madge, as she's known across the pond--there's a custom jacket made of rich red leather so soft it's like buttah. And, a pair of $100 flip-flops festooned with Swarovski crystals. And chakra beads and baubles to die for. And an itsy-bitsy string bikini by the hot designer Easel. And so on . . . .

The spouse and kids, whose only connection to the Grammys is the Material Mom, made out like bandits, too. For Guy, there are some designer T-shirts, a pair of fleecy pajamas with matching slippers and, well, lots of other guy stuff. For Lourdes, a nuggety Lara Wolff necklace to match Madonna's, and a leopard-print Hello Kitty bag and matching cellular phone cozy. And for Rocco, a soft Zoe Bebe cashmere carriage blanket and hat in a fetching pale green.

Family members and significant others of other presenters and performers also shared in the loot. Faith Hill's suitcase carried treats for Tim McGraw. And Justin Timberlake's goody bag contained a string bikini and Lara Wolff necklace for gal-pal Britney Spears.

All that, on top of the freebies everybody's getting--the bicoastal gym membership (including 10 massages and 20 personal training sessions), the free two-night stay at any Ian Schrager hotel suite, the $400 worth of Sprayology herbal mind and body boosters, the Fudge hair products that smell good enough to eat, the Chic Doggie designer pet accessories, the custom condom cases.

This year's Grammy goody giveaway is grander than ever. You can't even call them gift baskets any more, since for the second year running, the loot is stuffed into $600 Tumi suitcases. The Ritchies' haul was so big that they needed an additional pair of tote bags--a red one for Lourdes, a blue one for Rocco--to carry it all away. Total value: about $20,000.

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Other Grammy goody bags handed out this year average around $15,000--three times the value of last year's loot, according to Lash Fary, who with partner Jaimsyne Blakely runs Distinctive Assets, the company charged with seeking out the customized, cutting-edge, donated luxury loot. The goody bags, Fary says, are a way to thank everyone for their hard work, which, though arguably worth a million bucks in publicity, is basically done gratis. The bags also expose the donors' products to a high-end celebrity clientele.

"These are people who can go out and buy pretty much everything they want," Fary said Friday as his staff lined up and stuffed the suitcases at their goody bag headquarters high in the Hollywood Hills. "We send out a team of people to find cool, new, fun products."

Distinctive Assets works from its own database of celeb sizes, favorite colors and pets' names. Madonna, for example, wears a size 4 for clothes, a size 8 for shoes.

And so, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Toni Braxton and Faith Hill will carry away the crystal flip-flops, created by a costumer for the popular television show "Will & Grace." Erykah Badu gets a head wrap to match her designer dress. Elton John gets eye wear. Eminem gets an airbrushed T-shirt, with his name spelled out in crystals. And everyone gets sterling-silver ear pieces for their cellular phones, mini cameras, gift certificates, moisturizers and mud soaps, Altoids and--a celebrity favorite from last year--Colgate's $40 electric travel toothbrush.

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