AFTER OSCAR: Balmain, in flux following the departure of its couturier Oscar de la Renta last July, is about to see other changes. Speculation is growing that managing director Georgina Brandolini, at Balmain since 1997, will exit the house shortly. She could not immediately be reached for comment and her future intentions could not immediately be learned. Balmain’s ready-to-wear designer, Laurent Mercier, shows his second collection for the house Oct. 7.

CAFTAN CHIC: Customizing luxury for a Middle Eastern lifestyle, Kuwaiti retailer Majed Al-Sabah of Villa Moda has approached some of the biggest fashion houses to create caftans for his well-heeled clients. And Miuccia Prada was the first to say "yes" to his project. Her dozen-plus designs, with shoes and bags to match, are set to hit the sales floor in November, retailing from about $2,000 up to five figures for extensively embroidered and beaded styles. Prada caftans also will be exhibited at Villa Moda’s gallery throughout November, the month of Ramadan. Al-Sabah said most Middle Eastern women, even the most rabid designer shoppers, wear caftans, especially to entertain at home. But chic ones are hard to come by at the local souks. Not to worry. Fendi, Missoni, Etro and Marni have also agreed to make caftans for Villa Moda in the coming months.

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