NEW NIKI: Niki Taylor is on the hunt. The model, who has graced the covers of more than 300 magazines over the course of her career, is looking for appropriate financial backing for her new ready-to-wear line, called Begin. The collection, which consists of career basics and some casual separates, targets women aged 25 to 40. According to Lou Taylor, chief executive officer of the Brentwood, Tenn.-based TriStar Sports and Entertainment Group and Niki Taylor’s manager, the plan for the Begin brand includes licensing opportunities for fragrances and cosmetics.

“Niki is fashion and beauty and her market base is derived from fashion, not music or acting,” Lou Taylor said. “Fashion branding as it relates to fashion will continue, it will not be based upon celebrity popularity or by the number of records selling. This is how brands are made, and Niki is willing to work her brand and bring a personal touch to the market place.”

SPADE’S SONG: Kate and Andy Spade are taking flight with Song, Delta Air Lines’ new low-fare offshoot. The carrier has enlisted the duo to design head-to-toe uniforms for its employees, complete with accessories and luggage. Spade is making outfits for female flight attendants and customer representatives, while her husband’s label, Jack Spade, is designing uniforms and accessories for the male employees.

“The designs for Song look back to the glamour days of air travel, a time when both the flight staff and travelers often showed up on the tarmac with incredible style,” said Kate Spade. The new uniforms and bags, which will make their debut in the skies in February 2004, feature custom-designed fabrics. “The clothing requirements are different in the air,” said a Spade spokeswoman. The airline, which debuted earlier this year, is designed to have a more whimsical feel than most carriers, and includes brightly colored seats and attendants who crack jokes throughout the flight.

RUNWAY TO TABLE: Designers Lilly Pulitzer, Dana Buchman and Linda Allard of Ellen Tracy have been commissioned to design a line of limited-edition coffee mugs and saucers on Rosenthal China. Proceeds from sales of the cups will benefit the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network. Together with Gevalia Kaffe, the project is called “Extraordinary Cup” and debuts this week at retail. Each set features a different pattern, true to each designer’s signature style.THE QUEEN’S CLOTHES: Keeping in with the Coronation celebratory mood, Buckingham Palace opened its state room doors to the public last Thursday for eight weeks only. Aside from the Coronation oil paintings by Polish-born artist Feliks Topolski, including the first public showing of his 35-foot Coronation frieze, official photographs of Queen Elizabeth II taken by Cecil Beaton and black-and-white BBC footage of the day, the main attraction is the Coronation dress. The gown — designed by the royal couturier, Sir Norman Hartnell — has a fitted bodice with short sleeves, square-cut neckline and full flared skirt that is slightly trained. The embroidery on the skirt, in seed pearls, crystals, colored silks and gold and silver thread, is laid out in three tiers of overlapping panels and features flowering leeks to represent Wales, thistles representing Scotland and shamrocks — including an extra one Hartnell added to the left side of the skirt for luck — representing Ireland. After 50 years, the pristine dress only required minor restoration. Displayed with the gown is the accompanying Robe of Estate, which took around 3,500 hours to complete by 12 embroiderers from the Royal School of Needlework working in shifts seven days a week.

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