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.
ROCK ON: Hedi Slimane, the designer of Dior Homme, is on a major roll. Make that rock ’n’ roll. Bryan Ferry and David Bowie wore Dior Homme on stage last week for performances in Paris. And Mick Jagger was slated to wear Slimane’s slim threads at Madison Square Garden Thursday night. In fact, Slimane created a complete wardrobe for the Rolling Stones’ “Licks World Tour,” which runs through 2003.
BLISSFUL RETIREMENT: The late Bill Blass’ 12-year-old retriever Barnaby is not expected to stir from his retirement home to attend Tuesday night’s charity party to benefit the Humane Society of New York at the New York Carriage House on West 54 Street. Barnaby’s involvement is solely as the honorary chairman of the dog committee for the event. However, Blass-o-philes will not go home entirely disappointed. The event is to feature a mini-fashion show of looks from the Bill Blass archives. For those less interested in haute and more interested in humane opportunities, the models are to be joined by up-for-adoption canines. Barnaby now gets to live with Blass’ butler, Al McGloin, who inherited $50,000 plus an additional $50,000 for Barnaby’s upkeep.
UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN: Mandy Ferragamo, who spent years restoring Il Borro, a bombed-out villa and crumbling medieval village in Tuscany, has written a memoir about the experience. The book, “Seven Years in Tuscany,” will be published by Continuum in the U.S. in April. “It’s about a woman dealing with Italian builders — and telling them what to do — and there are stories and pictures about the children, the dogs and the horses,” said Ferragamo, the mother of James, Salvatore, Vivia, Olivia and Victoria Ferragamo of the Florence-based fashion clan. Ferragamo, who now lives in London, said the book literally kept her awake at night. “I wrote it in the middle of the night — waking up at 3 a.m.” Ferragamo formerly wrote columns on interior design for Beverly Hills 213.
EARTH TO PACO: Paco Rabanne’s views on the future? Not cheery. During an exhibition of his work staged by Corso Como owner Carla Sozzani in Milan this week, the designer said he loved Italy, but added: “Too bad it will soon be destroyed — and Spain will, as well.” Rabanne quoted Nostradamus, who forecast that these two countries will be taken over by the “great camel” — or the Arabs. And to top it off, Rabanne said we should expect a Third World War any time soon.
RUFF LIFE: Phoebe Philo has a new assistant in her design studios at Chloé. Her name is Scout and she’s a four-month-old Belgian shepherd. Philo, who just moved into a new apartment in Paris’ 10th arondissement, got her new roommate three weeks ago and has been seen walking Scout, or being dragged by her, on the streets around the Chloé offices.