IN STYLE?: It’s looking pretty good for Stefano Tonchi. While the Esquire fashion creative director had yet to give notice to his boss, David Granger, late last week and a deal may not be completely ironed out, sources far and wide were calling him the frontrunner in the race to become the next style editor of The New York Times Magazine. Tonchi, two Times sources said, met with executive editor Bill Keller earlier in the week. Times cultural czar Adam Moss and the magazine’s new editor, Gerald Marzorati, are both said to support hiring him. Amy Spindler, the magazine’s current style editor, will move into a role as a cultural critic when she returns to the paper from a leave.

SAVILLE ROW: Britain’s influential graphic designer-art director Peter Saville, who just closed a retrospective of his work at London’s Design Museum, is dipping another toe into fashion by creating the upcoming line of men’s knitwear for London’s groovy Clements Ribeiro label. “I’ve loved Peter’s work for so long,” said Inacio Ribeiro of the collaboration, which is to be unveiled in January. “I can’t tell you how many albums I’ve bought — and never listened to — just for the art he did on the cover.” Saville, a founder of Factory Records, is best known for album covers he designed for Joy Division and New Order. In fashion, he has done art direction for such houses as Givenchy, Yohji Yamamoto and Stella McCartney. “Peter did the whole line,” added Ribeiro. “Some pieces are going to be very expensive to produce. But they’ll be numbered and have a Peter Saville label in them.”

KAY’S WAY: The fashion crowd steered clear of Elizabeth Hurley’s post-Fashion Rocks party and headed to the Grill Room at London’s Café Royal — naturellement — for the bash that Alexander McQueen and Björk were cohosting. Guests included Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, her elder sister, Mary McCartney, Leah Wood and Jay Kay, the lead singer of Jamiroquai, who said he was still “on fire” from his performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Bopping in front of a mirror to the sounds of DJ Jon Gosling, Kay said, “It was a killer crowd tonight. I even noticed Prince Charles and Camilla getting their groove on to my set — they’ve got some moves.”DISTINCTLY NOT: Only two issues of Los Angeles’ new —and notorious — Distinctions magazine and top editor Laurie Pike is already getting out for another gig. Pike, who gave one week’s notice last Thursday, insists a much better offer prompted her pending departure.

But sources close to Distinctions and in editorial at the Los Angeles Times, which are both owned by the Tribune Co., say that unofficial blacklisting policies were making it increasingly difficult for Pike to do her job. Because the luxury-minded Distinctions reported to the publisher, it was seen as more an advertorial than journalistic effort by newspaper staff. Writers who contributed to the magazine were told they could no longer write for the Los Angeles Times newspaper or its Sunday magazine, and one magazine editor said that it would even go so far as to exclude coverage of Distinctions guest editors, who included socialites, a TV actress and a well-known vintage expert. And publicists became increasingly reluctant to release stories to Distinctions after being told they would receive no ink in the newspaper. “One publicist was told outright her play wouldn’t be covered because it was written about in Distinctions,” said one source.

Word spread fast late Thursday in the Los Angeles Times newsrooms. Yet it was not entirely over the hit to Distinctions. Pike will begin her new job this Thursday at, conceived as a hip and complete guide to Los Angeles and backed by three media giants, Gannett, Stephens Media and Media News is slated to be launched in November.

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