CELEBRATING GIAMMETTI: Get the vodka ready: Valentino is throwing a five-day birthday bash in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for his longtime business partner Giancarlo Giammetti. The selected party of 15 includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney and her boyfriend Alasdhair Willis and Bulgaria’s Prince and Princess Saxe Coburg, among others. The merry-makers flew out Tuesday in a private plane in order to be at the Eyoussupov Palace in time for the birthday, which falls today. And what birthday is Giammetti celebrating? Don’t ask.
NEW BATTLEGROUND: Gucci and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton have found a new ground to wrangle over — property. Both companies are negotiating for spots in Milan’s historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, confirmed city spokesman Antonio Cattaneo. Louis Vuitton is vying to take over a space now occupied by a travel agency just across from Prada’s oldest store. Meanwhile, Gucci aims to replace Il Salotto, one of the many coffee bars heavily frequented by tourists. But not everyone is happy with the new shopping opportunities. Talk of the Galleria newcomers has sparked a debate among local politicians, with some complaining that there should be a variety of businesses and fewer stores to enliven the city center. “They complain that downtown isn’t livable and that the Galleria is already a tomb at 8 p.m.,” city official Stefano Di Martino told Corriere Della Sera. “What if we close the only bars we have?” A Louis Vuitton spokeswoman confirmed the French company has made a play for the space. Gucci declined to comment.
NEW LIFT: Maidenform is looking for a new image. It’s tapped Laspata/Decaro, the New York-based ad agency, to handle the national ad campaign for the 81-year-old bra brand, which previously handled the account in-house. Maidenform’s annual budget for the campaign will be $3.5 million, said Maidenform officials. “It’s really great because Maidenform is a household name, and that helps us step up to the plate,” said Rocco Laspata, a partner and co-creative director of Laspata/DeCaro, whose other accounts include Harry Winston and Judith Leiber. Details of the new campaign were not yet available. However, Scheininger told WWD last August the “big news” for spring 2003 was that Maidenform would be reigniting a national ad campaign after a several-year hiatus. Top-selling bras by Maidenform include One Fabulous Fit and Customize It. Maidenform, a $250 million company, exited from bankruptcy in July 1999.
ADAMS ON AMIES: When you’re missing the fashion beat, what to do? Well, the House of Hardy Amies called in gravelly voiced Canadian crooner-cum-photographer Bryan Adams. Adams was recruited in the drive to put a new polish on Amies by producing a limited-edition portfolio of photographs of model Lisa Butcher wearing the winter 2003 couture collection, the first designed by Ian Garlant. “I have always been struck by the strength of the pictures taken at a time when couture was constantly used in editorial, and wanted to do the same,” said Adams, who has done portraits of designer Sir Hardy Amies in the past. Garlant said Adams brings “fresh insight, energy and enthusiasm to Hardy Amies.” The house needs it: Luxury Brands Group PLC, which owns Amies and Norman Hartnell, is trying to revive the venerable British brand and already has burned through at least one designer. Garlant worked under Amies himself for 18 years and took over for Jacques Azagury, who lasted only one season. Tim Maltin, managing director of Luxury Brands, said the group is focusing for now on building up the Amies couture collection. He’ll get a quick status report on the progress: Garlant’s first show takes place in London today.
MOBILE NOTES: It looks as if Christina Aguilera will be more of a spectacle than a spectator during London Fashion Week. As reported, the barely clad singer plans to attend some shows during the London season, which runs from Feb. 15-20. But she’ll also be performing with Ms. Dynamite, Boy George and Shirley Bassey at the launch of Siemens’ new XELIBRI mobile phone at the Old Billingsgate Market in London’s East End. So, will there be a duet between Aguilera and Bassey of “Goldfinger?”
TEE TIME: American Eagle Outfitters is planning to open its Santa Monica, Calif. flagship on April 3 in style. In addition to the requisite celebrity-filled and DJ’d bash, the clothier asked actors Johnny Knoxville, Kirsten Dunst, Zach Braff, Mila Kunis, Jamie Kennedy and Elisha Cuthbert to lend their artistic skills to designing T-shirts that will be sold in its Santa Monica, New York and San Francisco stores. A portion of the proceeds will go to Jumpstart, a nonprofit learning program.