SWISS MISS: Akris, the Swiss maker of luxury ready-to-wear, plans to christen its third German boutique this fall when it opens a 4,300-square-foot unit in Hamburg at 39 Neuer Wall, often dubbed the Madison Avenue of that city. Akris, which has 11 freestanding stores, also operates in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. Architect Christopher Sattler, who designed Akris’ recent New York flagship, is planning a curving stone staircase and a horsehair wall for the Hamburg location, which boasts a cast-iron facade. — Miles Socha

CAVALLI’S BOO-BOO: The Hindu customers of Harrods in London are demanding the store remove part of Roberto Cavalli’s collection from their shelves. Customers are outraged by Cavalli’s depiction of the god Krishna on innerwear pieces in the collection. “As a result of several calls from customers, the decision has been made to remove the items from sale — and they will no longer be available,” said a statement from Harrods, which also apologized to customers who were offended by the designs. Cavalli, meanwhile, sent a letter of explanation to the Hindu Council of Great Britain. “The fabric produced by Roberto Cavalli was designed to celebrate Hindu culture and not denigrate it. [It was] a completely innocent idea on our behalf, and something we very much regret.” — Nina Jones

TAKEOVER TALK: Could Carrefour, the French hypermarket and supermarket chain, be ripe for takeover by Wal-Mart? That speculation heightened in France last week after Le Monde reported the founding families of Carrefour are bickering and this August will not renew a shareholders’ pact calling for them to unite against a hostile bid. The Halley, Badin, Defforey and Fournier families among them hold a 30 percent controlling stake in the French retailer. According to Le Monde, the Defforey family will spurn the pact because it is unhappy with Carrefour chief executive Daniel Bernard. An eventual meltdown in the shareholders' pact is seen as opening the door for a hostile bid by Wal-Mart, which has recently stated its ambitions to grow in Europe by opening stores or through acquisitions. There also has been speculation the Carrefour board might oust Bernard and replace him with former Marks & Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde, who now oversees the investments of the Halley family. — Robert MurphySCOUTING FOR TALENT: The British Fashion Council has appointed three fashion scouts to scour the globe for new talent to bring to London Fashion Week. “We do already see a lot of international talent studying In London,” said Sarah Mower, a contributing editor to American Vogue and, who has been chosen as one of the scouts. “But I think some young designers may be intimidated, as the British Fashion Council has always been thought of as quite closed. Now we’re going to be more proactive,” she said. Mower, along with fellow scouts Yeda Yun, the international buyer for Browns Focus, and Andrew Tucker, a fashion writer and lecturer, will look for fresh faces to show at London Fashion Week starting in February 2005. The chosen ones would also have the chance to compete for New Generation sponsorship from Topshop, along with other British designers. — N.J.

CLOSING TIME: Forget shopping in Germany after 8 p.m. weekdays and on Sundays and holidays. Last Wednesday, the German Federal Constitutional Court ruled against further liberalization of the nation’s shopping hours. Stores are to remain closed after 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and the court declared Sundays and holidays are “days of [workers’] rest and spiritual exaltation, constitutionally protected.” There is a possible loophole, however. The court noted that at least in regard to weekday opening regulations, the courts must examine whether “nationwide regulations remain appropriate.” Most of the states in Germany think not. They have urged the federal government to make shopping-hour regulations a local matter. Moreover, most states, according to the newspaper the Berliner Zeitung, want complete deregulation of weekday shopping hours. At present, it is possible to buy groceries and some articles of clothing that fall under the imprecise heading of “travel necessities” at stores in or near railway stations and at gas stations after hours. — Melissa Drier

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