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.

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