Ford, Lauder Light Up Saks
NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue and Estée Lauder took Tom Ford out for a spin Thursday night — with record-breaking results.

More than 1,000 consumers packed into Saks Fifth Avenue's Manhattan flagship to meet the designer and see his new Tom Ford Estée Lauder Amber Nude collection. Ford, who signed a beauty deal with the Lauder brand in April, was said to have broken the store's existing attendance records for a personal appearance with his event. Sources estimated more than $30,000 worth of the collection was sold during the event.

"I love meeting consumers — it's great to see their enthusiasm," Ford said after finishing the signing. The line eventually had to be cut off, as Saks sold out of four of the 13 limited-edition products — the eye gloss, face gloss, bronzer and lip polish (Lauder execs promised to hand-deliver more in time for weekend selling). "I've heard of things that go in and out, but this collection really did," added Thia Breen, president, Americas, for Estée Lauder.

Quipped John Demsey, global president for the Estée Lauder and MAC Cosmetics brands, a few minutes later: "Thia's in the back with her calculator now."

The first collection, a reinterpretation of Lauder's original gold fluted cosmetics and gold packaging, included a fragrance, Youth Dew Amber Nude and color cosmetics. One of the hottest items, however, was a $550 gold minaudière with lip polish and face powder, toted Thursday night by Evelyn Lauder, Aerin Lauder, Carolyn Murphy and Maggie Rizer, among others.

And Ford is not resting on his laurels: He is now putting the finishing touches on Azurée, his spring collection for the Estée Lauder brand, which is his play on Lauder's iconic "Estée blue" packaging. He also plans to be finished with the first installment of his freestanding Tom Ford collection by Christmas; the whole collection is due in early fall 2006.
— Julie Naughton

Marionnaud Investigated
PARIS — Marionnaud Parfumeries is in hot water — again. The French perfumery chain is undergoing a preliminary judicial inquiry into claims it sold products that had been destined for use as in-store testers. A court spokeswoman said an inquiry was opened in 2004 when 3,600 items were seized in a Marionnaud storage facility. The inquiry's outcome is expected by mid-December. Former executives at the chain, which was acquired by Hutchison Whampoa's A.S. Watson division earlier this year, are already facing legal proceedings over errors in its accounts reported in 2002 to 2003. A Marionnaud spokeswoman declined comment Friday.

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