PADDING NESI’S CLOSET: Nesi Fashion Brands isn’t quite ready to confirm persistent market reports that it’s got the North American men’s apparel license for Eminem in hand, but sources say it’s a matter of days before the company announces that it will introduce the Detroit-bred rapper to the apparel universe with test-marketing to begin in March and a full launch slated for back to school.

The New York-based young men’s specialist, which also markets Rocawear Juniors, is staffing up in a way that leaves little doubt about its plans. Phil Molinari, former president of Cluett North America, has joined Nesi in the new post of president of sales, marketing and merchandising, reporting to chief executive Vincent Nesi, who founded the company in 1998 and who worked with Molinari during Nesi’s tenure as president of Bugle Boy Industries. Additionally, reporting to Molinari, Joseph Burke, formerly of Macy’s and Mervyn’s and most recently head of kids’ and women’s apparel at Foot Locker, has joined Nesi as executive vice president with responsibility for "its soon-to-be-named global superstar fashion label." Nesi has retained Lizzie Grubman p.r. to promote Nesi’s brands and work continues on a separate showroom at the company’s offices at 1466 Broadway.

Eminem, who netted five Grammy Award nominations this week, will join a growing roster of rappers and rockers making the transition from tunes to threads, a list that already includes Sean Combs (Sean John), Jennifer Lopez (JLo), Snoop Dogg, Nelly and, waiting in the wings, Gwen Stefani (Lamb) and Eve.

BUDDY BUDDY: CKI chairman Barry Schwartz and PVH chief Bruce Klatsky were inseparable Tuesday night at the Young Menswear Association’s scholarship fund-raising dinner at the Marriott Marquis. The executives, whose marriage was given an official blessing by the Federal Trade Commission Wednesday, were on hand to salute Tom Murry, president and chief operating officer of CKI, who was one of the YMA’s honorees at the black-tie event.

FUR SURE?: Los Angeles-based designer Rick Owens is not only bringing his signature collection to Paris in March, he may also be moonlighting here soon. Sources said Revillon, the French furrier, is negotiating with the designer to become its new artistic director. Revillon plans to launch sportswear, knitwear and accessories collections for next fall, as reported, and it recently named former Valentino and Thierry Mugler executive Georges Wichner as its new managing director.

BERNHARD WILL HELP: Bernhard Willhelm, the German designer who made his reputation in Antwerp with his whimsical designs, is moving to Paris soon. And he’s about to help conquer Rome, too. He’s been tapped as a key member of the design team charged with relaunching the famous Italian house of Capucci, famed for its sculpted and architectural dresses. In 2001, Capucci was bought by new investors eager to resurrect the house, founded in 1950. The first new collection, for next fall, is expected to bow in Milan next month.

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