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Fashion Scoops: Cardona In, Francer Out? … Shopping Sprewell … Mystery Man …

CARDONA IN, FRANCER OUT?: Cerruti and David Cardona are close to a deal that would bring on board the Los Angeles-based designer to oversee the collection and the 1881 diffusion line, a move that could in essence bump out Istvan Francer after only two...

CARDONA IN, FRANCER OUT?: Cerruti and David Cardona are close to a deal that would bring on board the Los Angeles-based designer to oversee the collection and the 1881 diffusion line, a move that could in essence bump out Istvan Francer after only two seasons. It would also mean the third replacement in 12 months: Roberto Menichetti left last May after only six months.

Neither camps at Cardona nor Cerruti would confirm the news, yet sources say an official announcement could come as Cardona is about to kick off Los Angeles Fashion Week with his signature collection April 1. And Cardona has been seen coming in and out of the Paris and Milan Cerruti offices so often that more than negotiations could already be under way.

Cardona is known for his ladylike leather looks sold nationally in specialty boutiques, as well as the wild concoctions he’s collaborated on with Lara Flynn Boyle and the tour looks he’s created for Janet Jackson. For fall, he is introducing a signature footwear collection to retail between $400 and $1,250. The deal would also coincide with the opening of the women’s boutique at the 2,500-square-foot Cerruti door on Rodeo Drive, set to open in April. Cerruti is owned by Italian fashion group Fin.part.

SHOPPING SPREWELL: Was he trying to steal the ball? Calvin Klein officials had no comment about the designer’s odd on-court appearance at Monday night’s New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden after pictures were published the following day in the New York Post and New York Daily News showing him being escorted by security away from Knicks bad boy Latrell Sprewell, who was preparing to throw an in-bounds pass.

While there was no official comment from Madison Square Garden Tuesday, one Knicks official played down the incident. “The whole thing took four seconds,” he said. “There was not much to it.” Klein returned to his seat for the remainder of the game, but at the final buzzer made another attempt to communicate with the bemused Spree before being discouraged from doing so by security.

As for the mystery of just what Klein said to Sprewell during the in-bounds attempt, that may be lost to sports history.

“Spree said he didn’t even know,” the Knicks official said. “He said Calvin just mumbled something.”

MYSTERY MAN: Just because Julia Roberts wears a vintage Jean Jourban Paris gown to the Oscars doesn’t mean there will be sudden new interest in the designer similar to what happened to Koos van den Akker or Kaisik Wong after their old clothes were resurrected in fashionable circles. Elizabeth Mason, owner of the vintage shop Paper Bag Princess that supplied the dress, said on Tuesday that it came from an estate sale, but that she had no further information on its origins beyond what was listed on the care tag: “Made in California.”

“My feeling is that it was a California-based ready-to-wear company that used the name Jean Jourban,” Mason said, going a little further to estimate that it was made in the Seventies because of its polyester jersey fabric.

But Jourban, whether it was a real person or a made-up name, evidently had little other lasting impact on fashion. Curators at both the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology had no records on Jourban. Even John Pomerantz, chairman of the Leslie Fay Co., whose company dominated the moderate dress market then, hadn’t a clue.

“I’ve never heard of it,” Pomerantz said.

Fashion textbooks don’t list Jourban, and other experts polled Tuesday came up empty. “I’ve never heard of him,” said Bloomingdale’s Kal Ruttenstein, who has left few stones unturned over decades seeking out fashion talent.

According to Paris-based fashion historian Florence Muller, Jourban could be one of many small couturiers who toiled anonymously in Paris. Or could that be Paris, Tex.?

THE BLONDE BRIGADE: The upcoming release of fashion-friendly summer flick “Legally Blonde 2″ might require a separate reel to credit all the designers who have contributed clothes for various scenes.

Costume designer Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell ticked off a roster of fashion brands that actress Reese Witherspoon will don as attorney Elle Woods, who pursues a case to Washington in the sequel. In addition to “all the fabulous things I made myself,” Carbonell quipped, Witherspoon wears a suit from Oscar de la Renta, a Tocca coat with an Anya Hindmarch bag, tracksuits and jeans from Juicy (Claiborne) Couture, a William B. trenchcoat, several pieces from Moschino and Marc Jacobs, two Chanel suits, a custom-made track suit by M.R.S. by Molly R. Stern, a Tuleh suit, suits and dresses by Nanette Lapore, Dolce & Gabbana suits, a Chloé suit, a Versace bag, jewelry from H. Stern and Robert Lee Morris and a Monique Lhuillier wedding dress (oops, did that give it away?) A Hogan briefcase-style bag is also featured prominently, although somewhat modified from its original pink-and-tan version, in that Carbonell tore off the tan leather and replaced it with white vinyl to match Witherspoon’s ensemble.

Also making a surprise appearance is Prada, or at least it will be a surprise to Prada, in the form of a denim suit. “I bought it at the outlet store,” Carbonell confessed.

But the biggest fashion winner in the film, which hits theaters July 2, is Jimmy Choo, whose shoes are featured throughout. And the loser? That might be the cosmetics industry, since the premise of “LB2: Red, White & Blonde” has Witherspoon’s character campaigning against animal testing. (As reported last week, Stila was able to produce a product tie-in with the film because it does not test its products on animals.)

KILT JOY: Great Scot! As if Sir Sean Connery hadn’t made enough of a fashion statement at the Academy Awards on Sunday, he’s now back with an entire fashion show. As honorary chairman of Friends of Scotland, Connery is hosting an April 1 kickoff party for Scotland’s tourism promotion called “Tartan Week.”

The event, dubbed “Dressed to kilt —?men in skirts,” will feature Scottish attire on actors Kyle MacLachlan and Gerard Butler, society flower man Antony Todd, Jeffrey Banks and Henry Alsopp, among others, who will be judged by a panel including Marisa Brown, Jennifer Creel, Ann Jones, Diandra Douglas, Rena Sindi, Amy Sacco and Ghislaine Maxwell. And, given the date, if it all seems like a big joke, well, it ain’t.

“Henry Alsopp thought I was taking the piss out of him, making him go out somewhere in a skirt,” said event planner Vanessa von Bismarck.

PROTECT THYSELF: Lizzie Grubman clearly has learned a lot about security in the last two years. So it’s perhaps no surprise that her public relations firm just sent out mailers touting its latest client: Royal Protection LLC, a 23-year-old company that offers professional bodyguards and security specialists for corporations, events and individuals, like Diana Ross and Michael Jordan. According to Royal’s brochure, most of its security specialists have “martial arts and military training,” and its drivers, whose vehicle fleet includes BMWs, Rolls Royces, Mercedes Benzes and Lincoln Town Cars, “are trained in evasive driving maneuvers and tactics.” Too bad Grubman didn’t use them two summers ago before that fateful night in Southampton.