April 26, 2004 12:00 PM

By Plum Sykes

If Paris Hilton is ever caught in flagrante reading a book—hey, it could happen!—it would likely be this one. With a level of luxury-brand name-dropping that would embarrass a gangsta rapper, Sykes, a Vogue contributing editor, follows the lives and loves of young Manhattan socialites, women who shop all day, aspire to marry an “of (of Greece, of Spain, etc.) and are employed, if at all, as fashion-magazine contributors. That’s the trade of our heroine, known only as “Moi,” who introduces herself as “a champagne bubble of a girl-about-town.” Like brut Moët, her tale is fizzy, dry and best in small doses to avoid potential headache.

Bergdorf Blondes is packed with delicious sociological observations, one-liners (“Ralph Lauren is my drug of choice,” declares someone named Muffy) and tart definitions (“PJ” is a private jet; “Arizona” is a euphemism for rehab; “CBK” is Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, possessor of ideal hair). But it’s hard to care about the airhead-ed characters. One wishes Sykes had abandoned chick lit conventions and bared her Nars Candy Darling-varnished nails with an all-out Tom Wolfe-style satire. That would be worth stashing in an Hermès handbag.

NOVEL

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