DIOR AT DONNA: So what does Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton wear to a Donna Karan fashion show? “It’s Dior,” he said. “I’m wearing a suit by Hedi Slimane.”
This story first appeared in the February 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
While LVMH is clearly putting its weight behind its investment in Donna Karan, Arnault still had the weight of the world on his mind, considering the potential of a war with Iraq and the recent calls for an American boycott of French goods in response to France’s position on American aggression.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Arnault said. “Obviously, if there is a war, we should hope that it will be a short one.” As for the calls for a boycott, he wasn’t impressed. “I don’t think it will have a real impact,” he said. “Our products are very desirable. It has nothing to do with the diplomatic situation. I don’t think it will affect the sale of French champagne. It’s just a political issue. Obviously we’re worried about a war, but if it’s over and it’s a short one, we’ll be able to manage.”
ALL ABOUT YVONNE: The intrigue at the house of Bill Blass just keeps coming. On top of the rumors that Michael Vollbracht is being talked about as the potential replacement designer to Lars Nilsson, who was fired last week, several retailers have been told that an alternate fall collection was secretly being whipped up in-house all along. Adding to the mystery, some fabric suppliers at Première Vision this weekend said they had been shipping “special deliveries” to the fifth-floor executive offices at Blass under tight secrecy, which had nothing to do with the collection Nilsson was working on.
So which tiny elves have been hard at work behind the seams? Sources said Yvonne Miller, who handles public relations for the house and was once the late designer’s muse, has picked up needle and thread to design her own fall collection for the house of Blass. It wouldn’t be the first time, mind you, as Miller was also responsible for much of the house’s fall 2000 season, back when the company was still searching for its first replacement to Blass. For her part, however, Miller said she has no plans to design the Blass collection.
FASHION LIGHT: Harvey Keitel is not among the throng of celebrities willing to wax on about the merits of a designer’s collection he is about to view. Even though he’s become a pal of Imitation of Christ designer Tara Subkoff — they were spotted dining together at Bar Pitti a week ago — he was less than graceful at her show on Friday.
“I’m just here,” he spat. But does Keitel at least follow the fashion trends? Not unless they’re of the ruby slippers variety. “I follow the yellow brick road,” he said.
PHAT FUR: While the limited-edition Baby Phat cell phones were the must-have accessory for VIPs on the way out, fur coats were the status symbol of the evening on the way in to Kimora Lee Simmons’ show Thursday night. Noteworthies such as Eve (in white mink J. Mendel), Alicia Keys (in leather-trimmed rabbit Baby Phat) and Janice Combs (full-length champagne mink — no label — a gift from Puffy) strutted in wearing their furry finest. But front-row or not, there was plenty of chinchilla, mink, sable and coyote trim to keep it hot. Other fur fans included André Leon Talley in a Phat Farm shearling and Fendi sable scarf, matching hat and Dior skunk-trimmed bag; stylist June Ambrose in Birger Christensen brown sable; recording artist Cam’ron in a pastel pink mink jacket and matching headband from Dipset Furs; Iceberg stylist Ternell Jones in black-and-white chinchilla from Fantastic Furs and BET personality Egypt sporting a bright orange mink from Kroskey.
NARCISO’S NOTICE: First daughter Barbara Bush makes it a point to answer any and all press inquiries with a polite, “I don’t talk to the press. But thanks for asking.” Yet while waiting for the Zac Posen show, she started looking at photos of Narciso Rodriguez’s collection in the day’s papers and couldn’t hold back. “It’s so pretty, and it’s not at all weirdly trendy,” Bush boisterously told a friend who accompanied her to the show. “We should go to that next season.”
WALK AND TALK: London Fashion Week kicked off with a roar as protesters from Katharine Hamnett to Ms. Dynamite to Minnie Driver took to the city’s streets on Saturday in an anti-war demonstration and the biggest public protest that London has seen in the past two centuries. They joined Bella Freud, Jesse Jackson, Bianca Jagger, Blur’s Damon Albarn, Tim Robbins and Vanessa Redgrave in a crowd estimated at two million marchers chanting anti-war slogans like Make Tea Not War and Don’t Attack Iraq. Katharine Hamnett told WWD: “I can only repeat Benjamin Franklin’s words: There was never a good war or a bad peace.” However, there was minimal disruption to the first day of fashion shows, most of which took place at the London tents — the Duke of York’s Headquarters on the King’s Road in Chelsea. For Saturday’s one off-site show — that of Russell Sage — the British Fashion Council bussed guests into the center of town, as streets were overflowing with marchers and public transportation was limited. Despite the chaos, however, shows ran only about 40 minutes late. London Fashion Week ends Thursday.
GUERILLA TACTICS: A bit of subterfuge was the name of the day at Ralph Lauren’s show Friday afternoon, in more ways than one. To publicize Michael Gross’ unauthorized biography of the designer, “Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren,” publisher HarperCollins dispatched two young p.r. women to hand out 100 copies of the book in nondescript blue plastic bags to the press and buyers as they filed out of the show, which was held in a warehouse on the West Side. Even though the two flacks were standing well away from the show’s entrance, witnesses said they managed to hand out only four copies before a group of well-clad heavies came rushing down the street and ushered them out of the neighborhood.