DOWN AT THE HEEL: Patrick Cox's business is in flux after his backers withdrew their funds, forcing the London-based footwear designer to close his Sloane Street boutique and cancel deliveries of his spring 2008 collection. However, a spokesman denied rumors the company is liquidating, saying discussions with potential new backers are already under way. "It's an entirely amicable situation, and Patrick and his backers are working to find a healthy solution," he added. Cox, who has been in the footwear business for more than 20 years and is a high-profile figure on the London social and charity scene, is expected to keep open his three stores in France.

SHORT CUTS: Thom Browne, on the prowl for a financial partner, is also eyeing fabrics for upcoming collections — and the work of some of his Europe-based designer peers. The New York men's wear designer turned up at the Balmain and Rick Owens shows in Paris on Sunday as the French fashion week kicked into gear. "Rick's a good friend from L.A.," said Browne, who was taking a breather after his over-the-top show in New York, dining at Voltaire and enjoying spring-like weather in the French capital. He was due to head back home today.

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