A HOUSE DIVIDED: The five Fendi sisters are headed for a breakup. According to sources, LVMH, which took controlling interest in the brand in November, is expected to announce today that several members of the Fendi clan are leaving the company, but that the creative team will remain intact. Carla Fendi, president, is said to be remaining at the helm of the brand, while her sisters — Paola, Alda, Franca and Anna — are reportedly giving up their respective roles at the company following rumors of conflict between new management and the family. Silvia Venturini Fendi, Anna’s daughter and creative director of the house, is also said to be staying. She designs accessories and works with Karl Lagerfeld, designer of Fendi’s women’s ready-to-wear. The Fendis are expected to keep their shares in the company founded by their parents in 1925.
Giancarlo Di Risio, who was installed by LVMH as chief executive in January, recently denied any splits in the sorority, but there is a precedence for disagreement. When Fendi was up for sale in 1999, all but Franca were said to be leaning toward selling to Gucci Group. Her reluctance helped fuel a bidding war with LVMH and Prada ultimately teaming up to jointly buy a 51 percent stake for $485 million.
COUTURE CAPERS: Bernard Arnault has caught the party bug infecting couture week, which kicks off today. Going head-to-head with Donatella Versace’s post-show bash at the Ritz, the LVMH chief is hosting a dinner tonight in honor of Christian Dior couturier John Galliano at Chalet des Iles, a scenic restaurant in the middle of a lake in the Bois de Bologne park. Among the 80 invitees are couture faithful like Betty Lagardere and Suzanne Saperstein, a flock of Eighties supermodels, including Karen Mulder, and rock star Gwen Stefani. Stefani is touring in Europe, but also taking time out for fittings on her Dior wedding dress. She is set to marry Bush vocalist Gavin Rossdale soon.
Meanwhile, Versace invited some familiar friends and new faces to her couture show and party tonight. These include Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Elizabeth Hurley, Shaggy, Chloe Sevigny, Rupert Everett and Rosario Dawson, star “Men in Black 2.”
And, those crazy kids at Imitation of Christ are crashing the couture party, too. Word has it they’re planning a last-minute, intimate presentation on Tuesday.
HELPING HAND: Luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton will spread the wealth this week by sponsoring a group of young couturiers. Receiving financial aid to offset the cost of their shows are: Lithuanian designer Juozas Statkevicius; France’s Fred Sathal; Portugal’s Andre De Sa Pessoa; Bulgarians Yassen Samouilov and Livia Stoiamova, who are known collectively as On Aura Tout Vu, and Dupre Santabarbara, as designers Michel Dupre and Christel Santabarbara are known. Meanwhile, LVMH will sponsor an exhibition dedicated to young designers to run Sept. 6-18 at Paris’ Musee Galliera. Featuring the work of 45 young talents, the show travels to Berlin in October and Moscow in March 2003.
HONOR ROLL: Two top American merchants — Burt Tansky chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus and Philip Miller, former chairman of Saks Fifth Avenue — have been cited for awards of merit from the French government. Sources said the two would be decorated with the Legion of Honor, possibly as soon as this fall. Bloomingdale’s ceo Kal Ruttenstein is slated to receive his decoration on Thursday, followed by a celebratory dinner at Le Voltaire.
RUSSIAN DRESSING: Vladimir Seredin and Seguei Vasiliev, the quirky Russian couturiers famed for their theatrical shows and over-the-top designs, will forego the runway this week. The duo launched ready-to-wear last season and are making that their focus, planning to show it on the runway for the first time this October. But expect a return to couture next January.
SHUTTERBUG: Dennis Hopper, a fixture at the Paris ready-to-wear shows last October when he launched his latest book of photographs, is back this week for couture. But he’ll be working, not promoting. He’s shooting couture for French Vogue’s September issue.”