A PAGE FROM YOHJI: Now that Yohji Yamamoto has thrown down the gauntlet and moved his show permanently up against couture, rumblings are growing louder that more designers will start showing ready-to-wear during couture week. No one has made a commitment yet, but Didier Grumbach, head of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, said Monday he’s not against it. "I hope so," he said. "We have four strong times in Paris and everyone should use those four times as he pleases." Word has it, however, that French luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which has three couture houses: Givenchy, Christian Lacroix and Christian Dior, is strongly opposed to the idea.

On Sunday, Yamamoto was at the launch party for his new book, "Talking to Myself." "My design is hard to understand, at least I think so," he declared. "So I asked a friend of mine, a professor of philosophy at the University of Osaka [Kiyokazu Washida] to explain it by writing a text for me, asking the questions: ‘What is fashion? Who is Yamamoto?’"

"And, Who is Yamamoto? He’s a man who may retire next year," added the designer with a sly smile. But during the fete at Azzedine Alaïa’s massive studio in the Marais, Yamamoto was in fine form, chatting with and receiving congratulations from a bevy of his cohorts, including Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Kenzo Takada, Viktor Horsting, Rolf Snoeren and Martine Sitbon. For her part, Karan enthused as she pored over the pages of Yamamoto’s book, which includes a selection of memorable images from his 20-year career. "I remember all of these," she said, rifling through the book with the fervor of a devotee. Then she came across the text in Japanese script and said, "I only wish I could read it." Not to worry, Donna. An English version is available.

Meanwhile, you might call Viktor & Rolf Hedi’s newest slim men. The Dutch design duo, in Paris to work on their fragrance with partner L’Oréal, turned up at Alaïa’s party for Yamamoto Sunday night wearing Dior Homme suits by Hedi Slimane, with identical shirts and ties. "They’re samples," Rolf Snoeren said, clutching the lapels of his slim black jacket. "Hedi sent them to us." But man cannot live by Dior Homme alone. Snoeren confirmed that he and Viktor Horsting are working on a men’s collection, which will be unveiled in January for fall 2003 retailing.

IMITATION OF DIOR: There was a fashion emergency of sorts outside the Christian Dior couture show Monday: an impromptu Imitation of Christ fashion show and demonstration. "I wanted to do something totally spontaneous and ad hoc," said IOC’s Tara Subkoff. "I wanted to do pure spectacle — nothing serious —just to inject some humor into the fashion thing." And how. Arriving in ambulances, a score of energetic models piled out singing and, in the process, slowed the steady stream of cars chauffeuring Dior invitees. Incredulous security guards watched agape. But they weren’t the only people who were taken aback. Initially, talk was that IOC would stage a happening on Tuesday. "We decided to do it on Monday about two days ago," said Subkoff. So why didn’t they spread the word? "It’s one of my private art projects: seeing how long a secret can be kept." As for the clothes, Subkoff called it "Garbage Couture," or reworked vintage pieces. In a nod to the Dior show, models wore vintage Dior haute couture jewelry, hats and other accessories. "It just seemed to make sense," she said.

STRESS BREAKERS: Talk about branching out. While Gucci’s launching a massage line, Prada’s researching clothing prototypes for space travel. A Prada spokeswoman said that Miuccia Prada had been contacted by Milan University’s aerospace department to study new textures and volumes for trips into space.

Gucci’s massage line, due to bow at the end of the month, includes a foldable teak table with a padded mattress covered in dark brown GG vinyl and detachable headrest. Other items designed by creative director Tom Ford are massage oil containers in brushed steel and black cotton GG towels in three sizes. But patrons are likely to need a stress-reducing massage after writing the check for the table — a hefty $5,350.

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