FOOTLOOSE: Look who’s back in the fashion melee: Josephus Thimister. WWD has learned that Charles Jourdan will today announce that Thimister is its new creative director. He will succeed Patrick Cox, who left the French luxury footwear and accessories firm in December after a two-year stint. The Dutchman’s first full collection for the house will be for summer 2006. The former Balenciaga and Genny designer had laid low in recent seasons as he traveled and collaborated with various interior design magazines. He also was known for his own Thimister brand, which he founded in 1997 to favorable reviews, but closed a few years later as the environment soured for smaller, independent designers.

FASHION-WARD?: Melanie Ward, Harper’s Bazaar’s senior fashion editor and longtime Helmut Lang consultant, may launch her own fashion collection. Rumors are ripe that Ward is toying with the idea of becoming a designer now that Helmut Lang has left his namesake house. Ward was brought to Bazaar by the late Liz Tilberis in the early Nineties and has been a stylist there since. She has also been an instrumental figure at Helmut Lang, where she styled the shows and even starred in the designer’s advertising campaigns. Through her assistant, Ward would only say that she is is exploring all options and nothing is definite yet — including her future at Helmut Lang.

POWER OF 10: How time flies: Two European designers strongly associated with all things young and edgy are already celebrating their 10-year anniversaries with career retrospectives. Hussein Chalayan’s conceptual works — including dresses that can be trimmed like hedges or convert into a coffee table — will be showcased at the Groningen Museum in northern Holland from April 17 to Sept. 4. Meanwhile, Raf Simons was selected for a retrospective that will bow in June during the Pitti Uomo men’s wear fair. 

SARAH JESSICA’S SPRING?: Sarah Jessica Parker may have given a hint of what she’ll be donning come warmer weather with her purchases last week at Olive & Bette’s on Bleecker Street — cashmere sweaters. The former “Sex and the City” star bought up a slew of henleys by Maya along with V-neck sweaters in the luxe knit that had just hit the floor.

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