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Europe Watch: Kind of Blue … Check Mate … Girl Talk …

<B>KIND OF BLUE:</B> House of Jazz, the London-based fashion label known for its signature bold prints and celebrity clients including Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss and Drew Barrymore, is closing its doors.<BR><BR>The four-year-old company’s...

Escada’s new look for girls.

Escada’s new look for girls.

WWD Staff

KIND OF BLUE: House of Jazz, the London-based fashion label known for its signature bold prints and celebrity clients including Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss and Drew Barrymore, is closing its doors.

The four-year-old company’s founders, designers Hazel Robinson and Pablo Flack, said in a statement Wednesday they would not show at London Fashion Week in September. Their last ready-to-wear collection, for this fall, will sell at Selfridges, Browns and Matches in London.

“It’s the right time for us to do new things, and I think it’s best to finish something when it’s doing well,” Flack said in a telephone interview. “It definitely feels like it’s time to put the House of Jazz project in a box on top of the wardrobe and to think back on what a fantastic time we’ve had.”

Flack already is working on a new venture — a restaurant and bar called Bistrotheque, in east London. Before founding House of Jazz, he founded London’s 333 nightclub. Flack and Robinson met at another bar he was managing in 1995. Robinson will remain focused on fashion. “Pablo and I have worked on this brand intensively for the last four years, and both feel the need for a change,” she said in the statement. “I have enjoyed the fashion roller coaster immensely, and will still pursue my career in this arena.”

Flack said the label was not having financial difficulties. “British fashion is never going to be a huge money-earner, but I think we were actually one of the few independent British labels to post a profit last year.”

He would not give sales or profit figures.

House of Jazz first showed off-schedule during London Fashion Week in February 2001, and since then has been one of the highlights of this city’s fashion season.

“I think it’s a great shame that such a vibrant label will be missing from the London schedule this season,” said Katie Grand, editor in chief of Pop magazine, who worked as a stylist with House of Jazz when it began.

Since 2001, the House of Jazz shows have been funded by sponsors including Fashion East — a showcase for young designers — Topshop and Eye2Eye. The duo currently designs a signature range for Topshop. — Ellen Burney

CHECK MATE: Tati, one of France’s oldest discount chains, is girding for a takeover. Its chairman and chief executive, Fabien Ouaki, announced last week his plans to sell the 55-year-old family-owned firm, which has been in the French equivalent of Chapter 11 since September 2003. Two takeover offers are being considered, one from Lyon-based textile-importer Asiatex, and the other from discount clothing chain Fabio Lucci, a subsidiary of the Eram group. The companies have until Tuesday to refine their proposals before they are presented to Paris’ Tribune de Commerce. Tati, famed for its pink-and-white check, racked up 83 million euros, or $99.6 million at current exchange, in sales last year. — Jennifer Barton

GIRL TALK: Although celebrating its 25th birthday this year, Escada is thinking young — way young — and launching a girls’ line, for newborns all the way up to 16-year-olds. The debut collection is slated to arrive in Escada boutiques this month. The line includes velvet jogging suits, jeans in an Ibiza hippie vein, fake fur jackets and short skirts. In line with Escada’s total-look mantra, accessories range from scarves, bonnets and legwear to bags, bracelets and sunglasses. Prices range from 49 euros, or $59, for cotton T-shirts to 270 euros, or $324, for a fake leather coat. — Chantal Goupil

STITCHING A DEAL: Marzotto said last week it renewed its contract to produce the M Missoni diffusion line, which it has done since 1998. The length of the licensing pact and other details weren’t disclosed, but Marzotto and Missoni have scheduled a press lunch in Milan Sept. 2 to outline plans for the line. M Missoni is the fashion house’s last license. Missoni outsourced production of its top line to Marzotto between 1986 and 1997, before bringing production in-house. — Amanda Kaiser

MAGIC GWAND: The Swiss fashion festival Gwand last week named nominees for the coveted Swiss Textiles Award 2004, a prize worth 100,000 euros, or $120,000. They are Eley Kishimoto, Sophia Kokosalaki, Laurent Mercier, Cosmic Wonder, Haider Ackermann, Lutz and Preen. All nominees will display their latest looks in a fashion show during the 11th annual event, scheduled for Nov. 25-28 in Lucerne. A panel of top retailers and editors from Europe and the U.S. selects the winner. — J.B.

A HARRODS HIT: It’s been a record-breaking summer for Harrods. Its four-week summer sale generated $122.7 million – a four percent increase on last year, and the most successful sale in the store’s 155-year history. During the period from June 28 to July 24, the company said sales of luxury and fashion goods were particularly high with the beauty, children’s wear, toy and food departments posting double-digit growth. “Harrods’ ongoing commitment to broaden its product ranges and further improve the shopping environment has contributed to these excellent results,” said the store’s chairman, Mohamed Al Fayed in a statement last week. Harrods chief executive officer Richard Simonin added the store has increased sales by 9.1 percent since Feb. 1, and is gaining “significant” market share in London. — E.B.