MORE ON CALVIN: Whatever Bernard can do, so can François. At least, that’s the thinking behind the latest rumor to pop up regarding Calvin Klein Inc., which has it that French tycoon François Pinault came to Manhattan last week looking to negotiate for the designer’s business. The thinking is that since Bernard Arnault’s LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought Donna Karan, Pinault wants to own an American designer brand, too. But no one was talking officially on Friday, and there also are reasons why such a scenario might not make sense: Pinault-Printemps-Redoute last month sold the majority of its financial services arms for some $3 billion to pay down its $6 billion debt and alleviate investor worries over its commitment in 2004 to pay $4.8 billion for the 47 percent of Gucci it does not already own. Plus, there’s already a list of potential suitors for bits and pieces — or all — of the Calvin Klein brands, including Kellwood Co., Phillips-Van Heusen, VF Corp. and Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou.
However, PPR has also indicated it would slowly reconfigure its profile by reducing its business-to-business activities in favor of higher-margin retail and luxury businesses. PPR first moved in that direction when in August it also sold the mail-order subsidiary of Guilbert, its office supplies distributor, to Staples Inc. for $808 million. PPR has also hinted it could sell Rexel, the electrical equipment retailer.
Spokesmen for PPR and CKI declined to comment, and Pinault’s personal spokeswoman could not be reached at press time Friday.
DIET MANIA: Is everyone soon going to be as svelte as Karl Lagerfeld? If preliminary sales of his diet book “3D” are any indication, the chances are pretty high. Lagerfeld’s much-anticipated book hit outlets in France on Thursday, and the 200-page tome caused such a stir that it sold out in its first day. “I don’t know exactly how many copies they printed but I think it was around 30,000,” commented Lagerfeld. “It’s amazing, no?” The book was issued simultaneously in Germany — and it has already sold out there, too. “There were a 100,000 copies in Germany. All gone. It’s incredible. I guess people like this kind of book.”
Lagerfeld’s publisher, Robert Laffont, is already working overtime to satiate public appetite, and the book should hit the U.S. early next year. “I hope they can reprint fast enough,” said Lagerfeld. In the book, which sells for about $20, the designer details the method he employed to shed more than 90 pounds in 13 months. It is co-authored with Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret, the diet guru, whose advice Lagerfeld implemented. “It’s very serious. No funny business in the book,” said Lagerfeld. “To lose weight, you’ve got to have discipline. The diet worked wonders for me. I’ve never been hungry. I sleep well. I work well. You just can’t eat anything between meals. That’s the secret.”