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LOVE ‘EM AND LEAVE ‘EM: Ellen Barkin watched from a private viewing room at Christie’s in New York on Tuesday as she unsentimentally unloaded more than 100 pieces of jewelry for $20,369,200 (well above the $15 million estimate) given to her by billionaire financier and Revlon chairman Ronald O. Perelman, who in January surreptitiously filed for divorce from the actress. Jewelry bigwigs including Fred Leighton — who was fixed on acquiring several important pieces from the impressive lot even though he sold his 35-year-old eponymous firm to renowned collector and dealer Ralph Esmerian in April and is expected to exit the firm soon — and Lorraine Schwartz were in attendance, as was Graff president and chief executive officer Henri Barguirdjian, who said he was looking, not buying.
“I’m interested to see what’s going on,” said Barguirdjian. “I saw the collection. It shows the great taste of a great woman.”
Christie’s staffers had to put out additional chairs for the vast crowd, many of whom were struck by the media blitz of the sale generated by Barkin’s team and by the 17 pieces of JAR jewelry that went up for sale. A JAR diamond ring that was estimated to fetch $800,000 to $1.2 million was bought for $1.6 million, while Leighton lost out on a two-strand ruby bead and diamond sautoir for $375,000, but managed to nab a single-strand emerald bead and diamond necklace earlier for $400,000.
VIVA ITALIA: It may have seemed an odd setting, but Manhattan’s Chinatown Brasserie last week was all about Italy — or at least Italian lingerie. Fabiola Beracasa, Emilia Fanjul, Tinsley Mortimer and model Ana Beatriz Barros hosted a luncheon to introduce the popular Intimissimi collection, which is now offered Stateside exclusively at Victoria’s Secret (Barros is the face of the line’s ad campaign). During pre-lunch cocktails, guests such as Natalie Leeds Leventhal and Jackie Astier nibbled spring rolls and dumplings, while Shoshanna Gruss and Fanjul compared pediatrician notes. “I think this dress is supposed to be a loose fit,” joked Fanjul of her choice of maternity gear, a very chic Anna Sui crochet frock.
SPARKLE PLENTY: Michelle Trachtenberg is the latest starlet to jump on the jewelry bandwagon, revealing on Sunday that she’s designing a line of semiprecious stone bracelets and necklaces called Bella Veritas, which will launch at a Women’s Cancer Research Fund benefit at Intuition boutique in Los Angeles on Oct. 24. The line will also sell at Milk boutique on Third Street, but quantities are limited, as the actress makes each piece herself. Pal Lydia Hearst has already worn a necklace from the collection, which Trachtenberg calls “a little side project. If I’m ever late on set, it’s because I’m sitting in my trailer making jewelry.”
PRECIOUS GEM: Summer Phoenix and her partners in retail, Odessa Whitmire and Ruby Canner, hosted a party last week to fete the opening of the Los Angeles location of their boutique, Some Odd Rubies. The trio’s many celebrity friends and family members made the trek east to the low-key Los Feliz neighborhood for the soiree, including Ben Affleck, Kevin Smith, Clea Duvall, Eva Mendes, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck, Phoenix’s husband. The retailers launched the first Some Odd Rubies, which specializes in original, reworked vintage apparel, on New York’s Ludlow Street in 2003. “We all loved shopping vintage,” said Whitmire, a former flame of Matt Damon’s, “but sometimes vintage doesn’t fit so well. We’d end up cutting it up ourselves.”
“The store is about originality, uniqueness — it’s about cultivating a style,” said Phoenix. “We’re making [the store] a destination. People will come east, just watch.”
PICTURE SHOW: “I’m lost in thought,” Manolo Blahnik said, after studying a supersized 1989 photo of the late model Tina Chow, taken by Herb Ritts. “She was so beautiful, and she was born with it.” Chow’s enlarged profile was one of hundreds of portraits on display at a San Francisco gallery and used in the Gap’s advertising since 1974. The photos also appear in the retailer’s new AIDS fund-raising book, “Individuals.”
Blahnik stopped by the packed party last week at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to celebrate the book’s West Coast launch. The designer’s own 1990 seated portrait with hands on hips, also by Ritts, is in the book, and among hundreds of images by famous photographers lining the gallery’s walls and columns. However, Blahnik didn’t want to linger. Weary from a flurry of cross-country store appearances, he said he wanted to stay fresh for his sold-out Saturday talk at Manhattan’s Supper Club, as part of The New Yorker magazine’s three-day fall festival. “I’m terrified of appearances before large audiences. I mean, five people is a good number for me,” Blahnik said.
Across the room, under a huge profile of Lee Radziwill, were Gap founders Donald and Doris Fisher, greeting friends. Donald Fisher recalled when then-Gap ad director Maggie Gross pitched the “Individuals of Style” photo campaign.
“She came to see me, and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s a good idea. But how about putting our clothes on them?'” Fisher reminisced. Instead, Gross convinced her boss to put celebrities in single-pocket Gap T-shirts, with the idea of Gap apparel being a must-have accessory and celebrating “mass America, good taste,” Fisher said.
COSTUME JEWELRY: Cartier president and chief executive Frédéric de Narp and director Maria Crawley-Bayazid hosted a cocktail party at the Cartier Mansion in New York last week in honor of Suzanne and Robert Cochran and Fiona and Eric Rudin, the event chairmen of the Central Park Conservancy’s Halloween Ball. The ball, now in its 11th incarnation, will be held this year on Oct. 25. The real draws, however, are the elaborate costumes guests don — and they don’t get dolled up without good reason. Cartier Tank Solo watches will be awarded to the winner of the costume contest, to be judged by photographer Patrick McMullan and Sigourney Weaver (who, besides her judging duties, is also about to be seen on screen as society icon Babe Paley in “Infamous”).
De Narp, for one, expressed sadness that he missed last year’s ball and won’t be able to attend this year, either. “Next year, I must make sure to be here, I have heard it is such a good party,” he said. Ironically, the last time Cartier donated a watch to a charity event, De Narp pulled the lucky ticket and won it. Of course, he donated it right back so non-Cartier civilians could have another chance.
EXPRESS LANE: Why would celebrities risk mobs at the mall when they can shop for cheap ‘n’ chic Express separates in the privacy of a new Hollywood showroom? That’s exactly what Camilla Belle, Rashida Jones, Monet Mazur, Kristin Chenoweth and Brittany Snow have done, grabbing up not-yet-in-stores pieces like leather bomber jackets, vests and striped sweaters. The casual clothes are for work as well as play: Teri Hatcher just walked out with a striped tank top and jeans that she proceeded to wear for an upcoming episode of “Desperate Housewives.”
OLDHAM’S GREEN THUMB: Todd Oldham has a new gig, designing holiday floral arrangements for FTD. For Halloween, the designer has pulled together bouquets shaped like spiders, pumpkins and ghosts. The offbeat displays are delivered in reusable containers such as stainless steel planting pots and cupcake trays.
Oldham, a mainstay name at Target, has also developed a rainbow-colored bouquet for today’s National Coming Out Day. He has arranged flowers in the shape of a gift box for the holidays and is already at work on Valentine’s Day arrangements. This is new territory for Oldham, who has a La-Z-Boy furniture collection and designed the interior of The Hotel in Miami’s South Beach.
10T33 or 10T32: A Todd Oldham floral display for FTD.
CALLING ALL CARS: Lincoln, as in the car, will be sharing the stage with Amsale at her bridal fashion show Sunday at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. The Ethiopian-born designer, who is among the go-getters spotlighted in Lincoln’s new “Entrepreneur” ad campaign, will show off her Lincoln commercial and print ads. There will also be models of the 2007 Lincoln MKX and the 2007 Lincoln Navigator parked in the atrium, as well as outside the Time Warner Center.