BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE: No matter which way Tuesday’s election is called, Kenneth Cole will be ready with a joke. The designer is planning to create two billboards in the New York area to reflect its outcome: If Kerry wins, the billboards will read, “Looks like the left lane is the right one. Kerry On.” If Bush wins, it’s “The Votes are in. Here’s hoping the right lane isn’t wrong.”

Cole’s latest pun will replace what motorists along the Long Island Expressway and the West Side Highway have passed in the weeks leading up to the election: “Every so often we renew our search for intelligent life. It’s called an election.”

COUNTDOWN: Along with re-creating an installation featured at the Antwerp launch of a book celebrating his 50th collection, designer Dries Van Noten is planning to turn the fifth floor of Barneys New York into a veritable screening room of his career at a party hosted by Polly Mellen on Thursday night. The designer is installing 49 projectors that will air the video from his consecutive collections — all but the very first, that is, as he wasn’t able to turn up any filmed copy of that show.

WELL-HEELED THIEVES: Unsuspecting accessories designers at last week’s Gen Art fashion show in Santa Monica, Calif., got an unwelcome surprise when they discovered they’d been hit. Among the stolen items were several handbags from designer Kim White and C-label shoes. The thieves struck in the midst of postshow mayhem. Gen Art program manager Lee Trimble calls it a case of “greedy fashionistas. It’s sad for the designers, because they’re fledgling, and the entire reason they are doing the show is to increase exposure for their line.”

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