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JANET’S BACK: In what may go down in fashion history as one of the more unexpected designer-celebrity couplings, Janet Jackson is scheduled to make a front-row appearance with her beau, Jermaine Dupri, at the Bill Blass show on Tuesday. The singer was introduced to Blass designer Michael Vollbracht by her stylist, Wayne Scott Lucas, and rumor has it, the two can’t get enough of each other. She was at the Blass showroom at 550 Seventh Avenue on Friday afternoon to look at the collection and walked away with a coat for herself. Will there be a wardrobe malfunction?
TAILORING FOR TUNE: “They’re better than Broadway shows,” said Tommy Tune, walking into his fourth fashion show of the day. “The price is right and they’re shorter.” In addition to the Richard Tyler show, Tune took in Kenneth Cole, John Bartlett and Perry Ellis. However, for his own personal wardrobe, he prefers Yohji Yamamoto. “He cuts really tall,” said Tune.
WEDDING BELLE: Seal’s bride-to-be, Heidi Klum, hasn’t had time to browse for wedding gowns. With a nine-month-old daughter and “Project Runway,” Klum said shopping is not on her itinerary. “I’ve looked at a few magazines, but that’s it.”
One thing is certain: Klum, who has a licensed clothing line in Germany, won’t design it herself. “No, no, that would be too complicated. I would do 10 different variations and still not like it,” she said.
DINNER WITH FRIENDS: Francisco Costa is treating himself to a special meal next Thursday. Following the Calvin Klein Collection show that evening, the house’s women’s creative director has booked Indochine for a dinner honoring Oscar nominee Hilary Swank and their joint collaboration to benefit the Hetrick-Martin Institute. Swank, who stars in the Calvin Klein Underwear ads, is a staunch supporter of the school, which supports young people facing issues of gender and sexuality. The Oscar nominee and Calvin Klein Inc. executives recently judged a student T-shirt contest at the school. The winning design, available at retail this April, is being manufactured by CKI’s underwear partner, Warnaco Group, and proceeds will benefit the school.
WITH A SONG IN THEIR HEARTS: If you can sing, it seems these days, you can sew, too. Hot on the heels of Lil’ Kim launching Hollyhood and Macy Gray debuting GhettoLine, WWD has learned that Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas is set to show his new line of men’s and women’s wear, too. And it’s all happening at MAGIC. While, the Black Eyed Peas are still running on the cash-cow steam of their hit album, “Elephunk,” released last year, Lil’ Kim’s and Macy Gray’s musical offerings have not exactly been on a lucrative par, so a second career makes sense. It begs the question, though, who’s next among financially strapped pop stars to turn to fashion…Michael Jackson?
PASSING CABS: Don’t look for a remake of “Taxi Driver.” Robert De Niro’s wife, Grace Hightower De Niro, said there’s definitely not one in the works. “We had dinner with Harvey Keitel and his wife. Someone probably heard something we said and misconstrued it,” she said before Nicole Miller’s show.
As for her own career, De Niro, who recently sang for Maggie Norris’ video look book, said she is exploring possible venues but declined to name them.
FRONT-ROW DIVA: Few people noticed that Kenneth Cole had a real diva in his front row. Maybe it’s because she was on good behavior. Soprano Renee Fleming, who is in New York practicing for a recital at Carnegie Hall later this month, stopped by the tents to take in Cole’s show, and it won’t be her only one this week. She is planning to also be at Oscar de la Renta’s on Monday. “Oscar did a dress for me which I have been wearing on tour,” Fleming said. “Fashion is very important in my job. What’s a diva without a dress?”
FASHION NOVICE: Along with producer Harvey Weinstein (looking better than ever in a salt-and-pepper beard) and guest celebrity judge Parker Posey, Bravo stocked its “Project Runway” front row with a host of network regulars. Beyond the obviously fashion-forward “Queer Eye” guys, there was a more curious presence: James Lipton, the host of “Inside the Actors Studio.” “It’s my first fashion show,” said Lipton, in his booming voice. “My wife has been to them. She’s even walked in them!” He added that he was most looking forward to “the girls.” Then he cleared his throat and said: “I mean, I’m most looking forward to the fashion,” he lied.
HOMEBODY: Before the Nicole Miller show Thursday night at the New York Yacht Club, Candace Bushnell chalked up the “Desperate Housewives” frenzy to the fact, “I think women are just desperate to see anything about women that relates to us or people we know. Although I don’t know too many women in New York I’d call a desperate housewife.”
The writer of “Sex and the City” isn’t keen about “Desperate Housewives” as a fashion trend, though. “I’m not buying this big souped-up Fifties thing for spring. I’m not big on sending women back into the kitchen.”
SWEATER GIRL: Serge Weinberg may be leaving as chief executive of PPR, the French conglomerate that controls Gucci Group, but his wife, Nicole, isn’t ditching fashion. After scuttling a line of high-end sweaters in collaboration with Gilles Dufour last year, Madame Weinberg is planning to fly solo. She said she would introduce her new Nicole W collection at the Ritz Hotel in March during Paris Fashion Week.
LIFE IS A CABARET: “I’ve never been to the Lido before!” Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz confessed recently. That will change come March 2, when he cohosts, along with Sofia Coppola and Carine Roitfeld, what already promises to be the party of Paris Fashion Week at the landmark Paris cabaret. It’s to launch the latest book by Lisa Eisner and Roman Alonso of Greybull Press, “Les Girls,” which showcases the work of Daniel Frasnay, the Lido’s in-house photographer who documented its glory years in the Fifties and Sixties. “It’s a love letter to Paris nightlife,” Alonso says, promising pink champagne for the black-tie event.
DEJA VU: Martine Sitbon, the French designer who closed her house after falling on hard times last year, is back in business with plans to relaunch a collection as early as March, during Paris Fashion Week. Mark Ascoli, the designer’s husband and a freelance art director, said Sitbon had completed a new agreement with her former South Korean partner, Shamzie, to develop the business. Ascoli said the company had closed its store on Paris’ Rue de Grenelle, but that Sitbon was busy at work in her Rue de Braque atelier. Last year, Sitbon filed for bankruptcy after suffering in the global economic slowdown. Known for a poetic, artsy style that mixes romance with rock ’n’ roll, Sitbon is well respected on the French fashion scene, having also designed for Chloé and Byblos.
JUST WHISTLE: Lauren Bacall was one of the first guests to visit Eskandar’s new East Village store Thursday night. The actress stayed for a while, but was more interested in shopping than mingling. Bacall picked out several things, the designer said.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE: Fresh from her walk down the aisle to become the third Mrs. Trump, Melania Trump will be presented with MAC’s Star of the Week award at the cosmetic giant’s media lounge on Wednesday. Presented by MAC president John Demsey and last season’s recipient, Naomi Campbell, the award is being given to Melania to “celebrate her grace and beauty.”
A TOAST TO NEWBIES: The days leading up to fashion week can be daunting for a young designer, but at Wednesday night’s Ecco Domani party at Barneys New York, the crew of emerging talents mingled jovially. The event honored the winners of the 2005 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation: Thakoon, Trovata, Costello Tagliapietra, Jasmin Shokrian, Mary Ping and Richard Chai. Now in its fourth year, the awards give $25,000 to each newcomer toward his or her fall show. The winners were picked by a committee that included Sally Singer, Vogue’s fashion news and features director; Julie Gilhart, vice president and fashion director at Barneys New York, and Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus.
“We’re blown away,” said John Whitledge, creative director at Newport Beach, Calif.-based Trovata. “I mean, we’re just a block away from the beach, we started the company out of the dorm room and are so removed from the fashion scene here. This help from Ecco Domani is great. Let’s hope we won’t fall flat on our faces.