Fabio

(Lorelai gets Luke to try on the clothes she bought for him with his credit card)
LORELAI: I just wanna make sure it all fits. Turn around. (Luke turns around.) Uh huh, uh huh.
MAN AT COUNTER: Hey Fabio, I need the ketchup.

Fabio (born Fabio Lanzoni in 1952) is an Italian-born American model and actor. He has appeared in several commercials, television shows, and movies, and became recognised as a model of the cover of multiple romance novels in the 1980s and ’90s. He was also famous for appearing in “I can’t believe it’s not butter” commercials. He was once known as “the most beautiful man in the cosmos”, and often considered very vain about his appearance (his catchphrase was, “Don’t hate me for being Fabio!”)

No prizes for guessing why Lorelai is so pleased to see Luke turn around …

The man at the counter is Joe (Brian Berke), who is also the pizza delivery guy in Stars Hollow.

Hello Kitty

LORELAI: You bought boy band posters and Hello Kitty notepads.
EMILY: A lovely young girl at the store helped me pick them out.

Hello Kitty is a fictional character created by the Japanese company Sanrio, and originally created by Yuko Shimizu in 1974. Perpetually in third grade and living somewhere outside London, her creators insist she is not a cat despite having cat ears and whiskers (she even has a pet cat). She is recognisable from her ribbon on her head, and lack of a mouth.

Hello Kitty products include dolls, greeting cards, stationery, clothes, accessories, appliances, and computer equipment. There are also Hello Kitty restaurants, a TV series, comic books, and video games. First marketed to pre-teen girls, the market base gradually widened to young adult. It was particularly fashionable in the late 1990s.

Avon Lady

MAX: I mean I don’t see you for months and then all of a sudden –
LORELAI: Ding-dong, Avon lady.

Avon is an American cosmetics company founded in 1886, a direct selling multi-level marketing company which is one of the largest in the world. It uses door-to-door salespeople to advertise its products, otherwise known as Avon Ladies.

Avon’s television commercials in the 1950s and ’60s featured a doorbell going “Ding-dong”, and then the catchphrase, “Avon calling”; it’s one of the longest-running and most successful advertisements ever. Lorelai humorously likens her visit to Max with an Avon lady calling.

Madame Curie and Jennifer Lopez

PARIS: Yeah well, I doubt highly that Madam Curie was voted most likely to dress like Jennifer Lopez.

Marie Curie, born Maria Skłodowska (1867-1934) [pictured] was a Polish-born French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, the first person and only woman to win it twice, and the only person to win it in two different sciences. The Curie family, including Marie, her husband Pierre, daughter Irène Joliot-Curie, son-in-law Frédéric Joliot-Curie, and son-in-law Henri Labouisse, has won more Nobel Prizes than any other family. She was the first woman to become a Professor at the University of Paris, and the first woman to be entombed at The Panthéon in Paris on her own merits.

Jennifer Lopez (born 1969) is an American actress, singer, dancer, and fashion designer. She began her career in 1991 as a dancer on television before branching into acting in 1993 (although she’d made her film debut as a teenager in a low-budget film). Her first starring role was in Selena (1997); she went on to star in other films in the 1990s, becoming the highest-paid Latina actress in Hollywood. She ventured into the music industry in 1999, with her debut album On the 6, which had two Top Ten singles. In January 2001, a few weeks before the events of this episode, she brought out her second album, J.Lo, around the same time as the release of her romantic comedy, The Wedding Planner, becoming the first woman to have a #1 album and #1 film in the same week.

We learn here that Paris’ ambition is to work in medical research toward the better understanding and treatment of cancer. It apparently doesn’t work out that way. Oddly enough, Liza Weil, who plays Paris, would later play a character who dies from cancer on medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

Docs

RORY: Do you want to wear Docs or sneakers?

Rory is referring to Dr. Martens (or Doc Martens), a British brand of comfortable leather boots which have been a fashion accessory in youth culture since the 1960s. During the 1990s they were especially associated with the grunge movement.

The boots were first invented by Germany army doctor Klaus Märtens in 1945, and he began selling them in 1947. They were first brought out in the UK in 1960 after R. Griggs bought the patent for them. Dr. Martens ceased production in the UK in 2003 and moved their manufacturing base to Asia. Since 2004 a small amount of “vintage style” boots made to the original specifications are still manufactured in Britain.

Rory is often shown wearing Doc Martens boots during winter in the early seasons of Gilmore Girls.

Miss Congeniality

LORELAI: Ah, this is why the Miss Congeniality act when Rory wanted to beg out of dinner.

The “Miss Congeniality” award is one given at many beauty pageants, including Miss Universe and Miss World, given to the contestant judged to be the friendliest and most welcoming.

Lorelai might have thought of this because of the 2000 action comedy movie Miss Congeniality, directed by Donald Petrie and starring Sandra Bullock in the title role. The film had come out the previous December, suggesting that Lorelai and Rory might have seen it during the winter.

“Dress to impress”

MADELINE: Hey, party at my house Saturday.
LOUISE: Dress to impress, please.

Dress to impress is a dress code that might be written on a party invitation, like “smart casual”, “black tie”, “costume party”, etc. It’s an especially vague one that leaves most people wondering what the heck they are supposed to wear, but seems be a favourite with rather pretentious people, like Louise. (The only etiquette guide I could find which covered it said it was a sure sign the party would be utterly dreadful, and not to attend). To me, it suggests getting dressed up without actually seeming formal, but not relaxed enough to be smart casual.