DANCE FEVER: Saks Fifth Avenue is teaming up with the American Ballet Theatre to give its dancers a better fashion look, although not in the traditional makeover sense. The retailer has signed on as the leading corporate sponsor of a new campaign called the ABT Costume Fund, which is geared to the restoration, replacement and archiving of ABT’s vast archive of costumes, including some that date from its inception in the 1940s and are still in use today.

In addition to Saks’ initial gift of $50,000, the ABT has since raised an additional $300,000, enabling the company to set out on the restoration of costumes for several productions, including preliminary work on the 28 white tutus from the iconic scene of “La Bayadere,” which have been in use since 1980.

“It’s a shame to not have them in as good a condition as they could be, for historic reasons alone,” said ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie, who described his own experience of wearing costumes from past performances as “my link to the theater’s history.” McKenzie said he has only begun to archive the vast array of costumes, which includes many pieces once worn by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova and Cynthia Gregory, as well as those of its contemporary stars, Paloma Herrera, Angel Corella and Ethan Stiefel.

“Fashion is art and the costumes that dress the dancers of the American Ballet Theatre are no exception,” said Saks’ new chief, Fred Wilson, adding that Saks is planning to promote the campaign by exhibiting many of ABT’s costumes in window displays at its 62 locations around the country and that its dancers might make appearances, as well.

THE LATEST YARN: Less than a year after launching her signature line of evening sweaters, Georgina Brandolini is inching closer to a runway show. The former Valentino and Balmain executive has set the afternoon of Jan. 20, in between Chanel and Christian Lacroix, to show her collection for fall 2004. Brandolini said she expects about 300 invited guests.OFF THE ICE: Vera Wang’s phone has been ringing off the hook since Michelle Kwan skated to victory in two of Wang’s designs — one coral, the other white. Last weekend the 23-year-old won her seventh straight U.S. women’s figure skating championship. Stores and skating fans have been calling the designer’s offices about the dresses. Other skaters have inquired about having Wang design their skatewear — maybe it’s a lucky charm — but she’s sticking with Kwan for the time being.

BLIND EYE: Before Carson Kressley landed the fashion role on the “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” team, it turns out John Bartlett wasn’t the only fashion designer to throw his chapeau into the ring. Tony Melillo, who has since landed the role of designer at Generra, confirmed he was once among the original go-sees for the show.

“It was no big deal, they just asked me to come in,” he said. “Now that I see it on TV, I think, ‘Damn, it’s so successful.’”

Not that there’s any sour grapes, as Melillo said he thought it was an interesting concept, just not for him — not that there’s anything wrong with it.

TALK OF THE TIMES: British magazine mogul Felix Dennis might style himself a bit of an outlaw, but the editors of his pet project, The Week, apparently take their cues from the Op/Ed pages of The New York Times. At The Week’s first annual opinion awards Wednesday, the Times took half of the four prizes, with Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman, respectively, snagging the top two: Columnist of the Year and Advocate of the Year. The Week’s consulting editor, Sir Harold Evans, and his wife, Tina Brown, hosted the awards luncheon at their home. Krugman, “who you may have noticed doesn’t like George W. Bush very much,” Evans quipped, won for his regular assailing of the White House’s fiscal policy. Accepting his award, Friedman announced, “Like all good Jews, I’ve started my own synagogue with Bill Safire,” his fellow Op/Ed regular, and said he would donate his $1,000 prize to “our synagogue library.” Charlotte Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson won Local Columnist of the Year, and Joshua Micah Marshall won Blogger of the Year for his site, Talkingpointsmemo.com.

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