MONEY TALKS: Negotiations to renew the employment contracts of Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole at Gucci Group may be conducted in private. But François-Henri Pinault, chairman of Artemis, which controls PPR and Gucci Group, is publicly letting his wallet do some talking. A self-described shopaholic, Pinault was among the first customers at the new Yves Saint Laurent men’s wear store on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which opened for the first time Thursday morning. He emerged lugging a huge white YSL shopping bag. Inside? A leather jacket designed by Ford. Could it be a $2,000 vote of confidence?

CURTIS’ RAP SHEET: Every fall, cartoonist Ray Billingsley sees to it that his comic strip character Curtis goes back-to-school shopping with his mother. Sunday’s strip, which ran in 250 newspapers, poked fun at rappers’ penchant for signature lines. Curtis’ pleas for the new Thug line of apparel by rapper E.R. Stitch fall on deaf ears. “Why you kids would put an admitted poison pusher up on a pedestal is beyond me,” his mother says.

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