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. HOUSE MOVES: Ramosport has tapped Julien Fournié as its new creative director. Fournié, who was creative director at couture house Torrente until 2004, will present his first men's wear collection for the house in June. A women's spring 2009 collection will be unveiled in the fall during Paris Fashion Week. "The time has come now for Ramosport to reestablish more clearly its...identity," said Nicoletta Giadrossi, who purchased a majority stake in the French luxury outerwear company in 2006. It had previously been family owned since it was founded in 1905. CLAWS OUT: "Celebutantes," the chick-lit confection by Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper that's cracked The New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list, had its West Coast coming-out party Thursday at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Attendees — including hostess Tamara Mellon and beau Christian Slater, Dennis Hopper, Anjelica Huston, Liz Goldwyn, Michael Vartan, Steve Bing, Jackie Collins, Honor Fraser, Jordana Brewster and Wendy and Leonard Goldberg — mingled amid pairs of Jimmy Choo heels and emulated the book's jacket art by sipping mini Moët & Chandon bottles through straws. For those who hadn't yet read it (in other words, most of the guests), Mellon synopsized: "The book is about the blood sport of getting dresses on actresses."However, she acknowledged that awards-related fashion warfare has calmed this season — a relief to a Diabless-clad Brewster. "It is mostly about what is going to look good," she said of her outfit choices. "I am never ambitious enough to make it a blood sport."

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