CENT'S SENSIBILITY: Call it a fashion warm-up. 50 Cent stopped by the Giorgio Armani show Wednesday, a few hours before playing a stadium outside Milan as part of his European tour. Next stop: Monaco. A large security crew slipped the rapper and his backup singer, Olivia, into their front-row seats midway through the show, near Tina Turner and Armani regulars Sophia Loren, Eugenia Silva and Ornella Muti. "I just came to see what he's doing with the women. For men's, he's one of my favorites," 50 Cent said, stroking his velvet jacket. "I wore Armani at the Video Music Awards." The music star was slated to rejoin Armani after his concert for a dinner at Nobu and possibly some clubbing. Meanwhile, Armani has been moonlighting as a magazine writer. This week's issue of Italian people magazine Chi includes a feature the designer penned about James Dean's legendary style.

MISSING PERSONS REPORT: It's become a common question during fashion week: "Where's Burt?" Neither Burt Tansky, top gun at Neiman Marcus Group, nor Karen Katz, head of its stores division, are at the Italian collections this week. Turns out they're back in the U.S. doing a road show related to the sale of the company to Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus LLC. Holding down the fort in Milan are fashion director Joan Kaner and top merchants Jonathan Joselove and Ann Stordahl, who said Tansky and Katz are slated to make the Paris leg of their European buying excursion.

LAP IT UP: Dipping her toe into swimwear for the first time, Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo has teamed up with Speedo to design a small collection that's more Olympics than Saint-Tropez. "I wasn't interested in making beachwear, but rather swimsuits for those who like swimming," said Kawakubo, adding that seeing so many Speedo-clad gold-medal winners at the recent Athen's Olympics was an inspiration for the line. Dubbed Speedo by Comme des Garçons, the collection for women and men comprises swimsuits, trunks, swimming caps, goggles and T-shirts — all splashed with black-and-white graphics. They'll make their debut at Comme des Garçons stores and select Speedo and specialty stores next February, retailing at roughly $80 to $140.STELLA SURFACES: Linda Evangelista isn't the only model to put in a front-row appearance in Milan. Stella Tennant dropped by Burberry Wednesday night, sitting beside chief executive Rose Marie Bravo. The Scottish beauty said she's working on various projects with Burberry designer Christopher Bailey. "He sends me on missions and I can find my own missions, too," she mused, declining to go into specifics. Still, Bailey denied backstage that Tennant — who has appeared in several ad campaigns for the house — is about to become the official face of the brand after Kate Moss. "She's a friend of ours. She's a part of our family," he said.

WINDOW DRESSING: The cruise collection came early — way early — to Gucci's flagship on Via Montenapoleone. It was on display in the windows to mark Frida Giannini's debut Wednesday as women's creative director. Shoppers will have to wait a few months to buy them, though. They were merely a tribute to Giannini, even reflecting her fashion show setting: decorated with glossy rosewood panels and floors.

MOUSE IN THE HOUSE: We smell a rat at Marc Jacobs, a Stinky Rat, to be precise. Word in Europe has it that Jacobs is launching a collection called Stinky Rat targeting young men and featuring a whimsical rat as its core logo. Jacobs has featured the rat on T-shirts in the past and is now rumored to be developing it for a more complete launch, with an expanded line of shirts and possibly other categories, too.

Stinky Rat has its origins with photographer Juergen Teller, who shoots Jacobs' ad campaigns, and whose daughter, Lola, used to call him a stinky rat. "We always loved that, so Marc drew a stinky rat, and it just became a thing for us," said Robert Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs, when reached on Wednesday. "We put it on T-shirts, flip-flops, wallets and skateboards. They are on our polo shirts ... It's not a new project, but I think it's becoming more well-known because I have seen it editorialized more often."While the company has registered Stinky Rat as a trademark, Duffy downplayed the notion this was a major new stand-alone initiative for the company. That said, "it probably could be at this point because we have done enough product," Duffy noted.

Next up could be a Stinky Rat surfboard, which should be music to the growing number of the brand's collectors. "People call in every season and ask for the products we do with the stinky rat on them," Duffy said. "It has a following."

SQUARED DANCE: Although celebrities are not really the DSquared thing, Dean and Dan Caten had Simon Webbe of pop group Band Blue in their audience Wednesday. Webbe, who traveled to Milan especially for the show, said his stylist had been feeding him DSquared clothes. "I really wanted to meet the designers behind the label," he said backstage. "I didn't know cowboy gear could be worn that way," he quipped, referring to the designers' take on Western looks. The twins said they'll open new headquarters in Milan in January. "We're growing, and we need more staff and more space," said Dean Caten. Some speculate the design duo might be looking for more independence from Diesel, which produces the line through its Staff International manufacturing arm. The designers laughed this away after the show, as did Diesel's head, Renzo Rosso, who said: "Sure we fight, but it doesn't mean anything."

DRESSING UP D.C.: Washington isn't considered the epicenter of design, but Yeohlee Teng is doing what she can to change that. The designer will tackle the topic of "Designing for the Urban Nomad" on Oct. 6 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Any of the 300 expected guests can order the designs she references from Rizik's, a local boutique. Some of the proceeds will benefit the Fashion Group International's scholarship fund.

Earlier in the week, Teng will drop by the John F. Kennedy Center, where her designs will be displayed as part of "New China Chic," a new exhibition that celebrates designers of Chinese ancestry including Vera Wang, Derek Lam, Amy Chan, Peter Som, Zang Toi, Vivienne Tam, Han Feng and John Rocha. The latest trip will up Teng's visits to the capital city this year to three — she was among the 2004 National Design Award winners honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the White House in April.

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