GUCCI REDO: Pouring rain didn’t deter the Milan crowd from packing into a glitzy cocktail party Thursday night to inaugurate the renovated and expanded Gucci flagship on Via Montenapoleone. As the techno music blared, some 800 guests, including Santo Versace and Italy’s first daughter Barbara Berlusconi, pushed their way past the cases of jewelry and limited-edition bags to tour Gucci’s biggest store ever — it’s 19,000 square feet, four floors and carries items from all the Gucci brand divisions. Goth-inspired models mingled with statues of shiny black leopards, while others wandered about the store to show off backless evening gowns and plastic thong underwear.
Chief executive Domenico De Sole arrived a couple of hours late after getting held up in a Paris budget meeting for Yves Saint Laurent, but it didn’t dampen his upbeat mood about Gucci’s new retail look, which first bowed at its flagships in New York and Paris.
“We always have a certain look but we try to refresh and upgrade it. It is just an evolution,” De Sole said.
CASINO ROYALE: Evelyn Lauder may be known as a risk taker, but no word yet on how her co-hosts Summer Phoenix, Estella Warren and other Hollywood faces will fare at the roulette tables tonight in New York at Guastavino’s. Lauder joins watchmaker Audemars Piguet and event planner-cum-handbag designer Colin Cowie in kicking off the the first of 12 “Promesse to Win” dinner and casino events aiming to raise $1.5 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The luxury timekeeper even designed a limited-edition Promesse collection for the program. The tour continues through June, hitting Los Angeles, Palm Beach, Aspen, Dallas and other cities.
ON THEIR TOES: The New York City Ballet will stage a fashion show of sorts during its winter gala Tuesday night. Ballerinas will unlace their toe shoes to prance down a runway in Manolo Blahnik stilettos and Art Deco-inspired dresses. The heels were designed in collaboration with Julius Lumsden who created the Thirties-type dresses. Peter Martins, the company’s master in chief, was so impressed with the elegant costumes that he choreographed the opening scene solely to showcase them and included shoes for the first time. Paul Morelli provided the dancers’ rubies and diamonds.
The benefit at the New York State Theater is the finale of a yearlong celebration marking the centennial of Richard Rodgers. In between dress rehearsals and trying to finish his denim eveningwear collection for Bergdorf Goodman, Lumsden said he plans to design some dresses for another ballet fan, Candace Bushnell. But she had no say in the upcoming project, even though her husband, Charles Askegard, is a principal dancer with the company.
SECOND THOUGHTS: Rebecca Danenberg has nixed plans to relaunch a signature line of sportswear this spring. She continues to work as the creative director at Seven jeans in Los Angeles. Danenberg could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman at the Apropo showroom confirmed it is no longer representing her.
A GIRL’S BEST FRIENDS: Can’t decide whether to give her diamonds or chocolates this holiday season? Tonight, there’s no need to choose between the two. Harry Winston, jeweler to the stars, and M&M/Mars, which makes Ethel M. Chocolates (named after founder Forest Mars Sr.’s mother), have teamed up to create a decadent — if highly caloric — holiday tree. Model Lauren Bush, the President’s niece, will unveil the tree at 5 p.m. at the Harry Winston flagship in New York on Fifth Avenue. Bush will trim the tree with rare-colored gemstones using a 107-carat black diamond and a chocolate brown diamond suite totalling more than $25 million.
The tree, made entirely of Ethel M. chocolates, stands 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide, and incorporates samples of Ethel M. goodies, such as caramel apples, chocolate snowmen and white-chocolate hearts. Winston’s customers can sample the chocolates, but the gems are off-limits and are part of the jeweler’s holiday selections.
LADY IN RED (SQUARE): Forget babushkas. Xenia Gorbachev, the granddaughter of Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the USSR, is about to get a taste of couture. She is among 23 young women headlining the annual Crillon Debutante Ball in Paris on Dec. 7, sponsored by Mikimoto and the Crillon Hotel. Gorbachev is slated to wear Christian Dior and be escorted by her fiancé, Kirill Solod. Both are students of public relations at Moscow University. Other “debs” expected at the ball are Margherita Missoni, daughter of Angela Missoni, in Emanuel Ungaro and American Tennessean Alexis Hamilton, daughter of David and Catherine Hamilton, in Christian Lacroix.
ELSEWHERE IN RUSSIA: The house of Emanuel Ungaro will headline “Fashion Week Moscow,” which kicks off next week. Although Emanuel Ungaro himself won’t make the trip, ready-to-wear designer Giambattista Valli and his crew plan to stage a runway extravaganza next Tuesday in the Russian capital. The show coincides with the inauguration of Ungaro’s first two boutiques in Russia. They are located on Moscow’s Stoleshnikov Pereulok and in the Crocus City Mall.