DOHERTY BOOK GETS JUNKED

Has the fashion world turned on Pete Doherty? Ever since Kate Moss dumped her enabling wastrel in the wake of her cocaine scandal, Britain’s greatest living junkie poet has seen a sharp drop in his indie stock. In the latest blow to his style icon status, we hear Dior designer Hedi Slimane has decided to shelve a book of photos he made with the former Libertines singer.

The $30 high-gloss paperback, called London Birth of a Cult and published by art house imprint Steidl, hit U.S. bookstores this month in a miniscule advance run of 750 copies—a sampling of what was intended to be a much larger printing, we’re told. The book features photos Slimane took of his coke-smoking muse over the course of a year while using him as the inspiration for his latest Dior Homme collection.

“Doherty’s life has epitomized the trajectory of a true rock ‘n roll legend,” the book’s promo material reads. “A feeding frenzy of press coverage was precipitated by his dating Kate Moss, charges of robbery, blackmail, and carrying a knife, jail time, rehab, and admissions that he had been a prostitute and drug dealer. All of this overwhelms the most interesting aspect of the 26-year-old musician’s life—in a business dominated by manufactured mediocre talents, he is a true original, a charismatic frontman, songwriter, and performer.”

Unfortunately, such gushing praise seems less and less apt each day. Doherty’s messy split with Moss, empty promises to enter rehab, and the resounding thud of his debut album with new band Babyshambles—the London Observer called it “disappointing” and “incoherent”—have combined to make his formerly Rimbaud-esque antics seem just plain sad.

Despite the questionable economics of publishing and distributing only 750 copies of a $30 paperback, a Steidl spokeswoman maintains that the book was never meant to be printed in a larger quantity. “Hedi doesn’t want it to be reprinted,” she said. “He wants it to be of the moment. If you can get one now, you’re lucky.” Another rep for the publishing house added that “the fact that the edition is small does not have anything to do with any personal events or sensationalism surrounding Pete Doherty.” Publicists for Doherty and Slimane could not be reached for comment by press time.

THE SPY WHO GOT OUT OF THE COLD

Sources say outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, have decided to watch their never-ending saga unfold from sunnier climes. D.C.’s second-most famous couple has understandably tired of the paparazzi camped in their driveway and are looking to relocate to laid-back Santa Barbara, we hear.

According to a West Coast realty insider, the Wilsons have retained the suburb’s toniest real estate company, Sotheby’s, to find a new home for them and their twin daughters in the seaside enclave. Wilson, who wrote the June 6, 2003 New York Times Op-Ed debunking Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Niger, has long standing ties in the area, having attended UCSB in the ‘70s. (A self-described former “beach bum,” he has joked that he majored in “history, volleyball, and surfing,” with a minor in womanizing and pot smoking.) While it’s uncertain precisely when the couple plans to make their move, friends say they’re anxious to escape the Beltway microscope and the capitol’s haywire weather.

A rep for Wilson, Audrey Wolf, said she didn’t “have any clue” about her client’s Westward yearnings, and a spokeswoman for the Sotheby’s office in Santa Barbara declined to comment, saying, “We do not reveal the names of clients we work with unless they have given us permission.”