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Published Aug. 31, 2005

FILE THIS UNDER URBAN LEGEND: We know that fashion can be bizarre, but it's not this bizarre:

Contrary to the claims of an e-mail circulating around the world, the latest craze in Japan is not skirts that are printed to make it look like you can see the wearer's undies.

The e-mail is a hoax.

"These kind of doctored images are actually quite common in Japan's cheaper porn magazines," journalist and street fashion photographer Kjeld Duits tells the Japanese street culture e-zine

But enough people, and businesses, have believed in the skirts, and liked them, that Web sites and people like Duits have been flooded with inquiries from would-be buyers.

Duits tells the Edmonton Journal that the Japanese are dumbfounded that anyone could believe the skirts are real.

ON A MORE SEDATE NOTE: If you aspire to the style of Avril Lavigne _ history lesson: Women have been wearing ties since before her parents were born _ you can get a version of the T-shirt she wears in her Sk8er Boi video on eBay.

It's the official shirt of Wilkesboro (N.C.) Elementary School, which revived the T's (they had been out of circulation for about four years) after learning of the free publicity.

About 300 have been sold, and the shipping destinations have included Sweden and Thailand, school PTO president Marcia Reynolds tells the Associated Press.

They cost $20 each; proceeds go toward computers for the school.

Or you can scour thrift stores looking for one that a Wilkesboro alumnus got rid of. Principal Mike Dancy says he was told that's how Lavigne, who was never a student there, got hers.

HOW'S IT GOIN'? WELL . . . It was one of the best TV commercials on the air, and now it's gone.

The Visa check card ad with Charlie and Martin Sheen was out of circulation as of Wednesday, and rumblings were heard that it was pulled because of Martin's outspoken antiwar position, the New York Post says.

Not so, Visa says in a statement to the newspaper: "As with many Visa commercials, this spot aired for a specific period of time (four months), and is now being rotated out of the advertising lineup. . . . Visa does not use its advertising to make political statements, and neither the spot nor the conclusion of its run should be interpreted as one."

THE MODEL FELON: Winona Ryder has completed her 480 hours of community service for stealing clothes, hats, hair doodads and such from the Beverly Hills Saks. The speed with which she completed her obligation _ she was sentenced Dec. 6 _ could be because paid work hasn't been taking up much of her time. But "the offers are pouring in," her rep tells New York's Daily News.