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COUTURE SHOCK

United Colors of Benetton has long been famous for its shocking ad campaigns: An umbilical cord being cut, an exploding car, etc. The maverick fashion company even made its own brand of condoms – in a rainbow of colors, of course.

Obviously bored cranking out khaki pants and ski sweaters, Benetton is still making itself a conversation piece. On www.benetton.com, there are photos of death row inmates under the headline "We On Death Row." Those images link to a yearbook-style page of more inmates. An essay follows that reads: "And then I met the murderers. Murderers who were penitent. Murderers who were catatonic. Murderers who were arrogant, who proclaimed their innocence, or had genuinely forgotten just what they had done to land them on death row."

Then another article from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers makes an anti-capital punishment plea. Maybe clothes don’t make the person, but they sure can make a statement.

REAL CRED

David Bowie must have taken Andy Warhol’s admiration for business prowess to heart. The thin white duke’s face now appears on a credit card. Patrons of Bowiebanc.com get a lot more than credit and interest. They also get custom checks and access to Bowienet, touted as "the Internet’s coolest online community," promising a virtual backstage pass to the world of Bowie, music, art and culture. Bowiebanc.com combines all this with full financial services. Check out www.bowiebanc.com for all the details.

MANE MAGIC

New high-tech hairstyling products still manage to match retro fashion trends. It’s once again an in thing to slick, stack, gel, pomade, puff and straighten, so high-end companies are offering waxlike and petroleumlike products that remind us of something we might find hidden in our grandmothers’ medicine cabinets. Adding technology to traditional hair helps has yielded products such as Sebastian Collectives Molding Mud Sculpting Bonder. Fibers in this "mud" hold on to hair and make tricky styles possible. For about $15, Sebastian promises hold, resilience, shine and, for the willing mind, a warm sense of nostalgia.

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