PRINTEMPS SALE?: PPR, the French conglomerate that owns Gucci Group, could announce as early as today that it will sell its Printemps department store chain, according to sources in Paris. Negotiations were said to have heated up over the weekend, with France’s Galeries Lafayette falling out of the bidding. Late Monday, Italy’s La Rinascente was thought to be the leading contender for the firm’s 17 Printemps stores, including the landmark flagship on Paris’ Boulevard Haussmann. Sources said the price would be close to 1 billion euros, or $1.26 billion at current exchange. A PPR spokeswoman declined comment, but speculation has gathered steam over the past week that PPR is eager to divest the business because its margins are too low.
FASHION CREDITS: The fashion world was particularly well represented in the queen’s birthday honors roll call this year. Lulu Guinness and Julien Macdonald were both named OBEs, officers of the Order of the British Empire, while Hussein Chalayan received an MBE, as did the founders of the Red or Dead brand, Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway. Joan Burstein, the founder of London’s Browns boutique, was honored as a Commander of the British Empire.
However, the most controversial name among the honorees was Philip Green, who received a knighthood. The billionaire retail mogul owns Arcadia Group, the parent company of Topshop, and was honored for his services to the retail industry. While Sir Philip has no doubt raised the bar on the U.K. high street, there have been press reports about his British tax avoidance tactics. Green is based in Monaco, and his shares in Arcadia are in his wife Tina‘s name, so that he avoids paying U.K. tax rates on his $9 billion fortune.
GARDEN FETE: Everybody loves a garden party, especially Valentino. Famous for his couture-week fetes at his magnificent Chateau de Wideville, the designer called in the European social set Saturday for an early birthday lunch in honor of close friend Doris Brynner, head of Dior’s home collection. Guests, including Bernard and Helene Arnault, Princess Ira von Furstenberg, Marie-Chantal of Greece, Baroness Hélène Ludinghausen, Betty and François Catroux and Countess Charlene de Ganay, were treated to an Italian buffet followed by chocolate tart for dessert. “The garden looked glorious,” said Georgina Brandolini, who described the event as a “relaxed and emotional moment among friends.” But it was the surprise appearance of Brynner’s daughter, Victoria, and her two-month-old granddaughter, Isabella, that really turned on the waterworks. The two flew in from Los Angeles just for the occasion.
This story first appeared in the June 20, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
COUTURE ROCKS: Editors and guests attending Paris couture week, July 5-7, should be prepared to pack a couple of rock ‘n’ roll outfits. Chrome Hearts has confirmed perennial rock stars Cher and Lenny Kravitz‘ attendance for its long-awaited store opening on Avenue Montaigne on July 4, as well as the opening’s after party at Baccarat’s crystal-bedecked headquarters that night. Sean Lennon may also pop up at a couple of shows in between studio time spent with Canadian model Irina Lazareanu, with whom he’s currently recording an album. The duo’s first single, “Strange Places,” will be released in September, with private concerts scheduled for New York and Paris over the coming months. “I’ve been asked by a few houses to perform either during their shows or at after parties during ready-to-wear, but I think I might prefer to keep fashion and music apart,” mused Lazareanu during a photo shoot at the Balenciaga atelier on Sunday.
TOPSHOP HITS TOKYO: Following launches in Paris and New York, hipsters in Japan will be the next to get their hands on Topshop’s cheap chic. The British retailer will launch its higher-end Unique collection at 10 Corso Como Comme des Garçons in Tokyo at the end of July. Topshop’s Unique collection, which will retail at the store from approximately $147 for wool pants to $330 for a wool coat, will be sold alongside the likes of Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garçons and Rochas. The Tokyo store is Unique’s third wholesale outlet, in addition to Opening Ceremony in New York and Colette in Paris.
CELEBRATING GUCCI: Gucci is capitalizing on its red-carpet cachet with “Gucci by Gucci,” a 450-page tome filled with 85 years’ worth of celebrities wearing its iconic accessories and clothes. The book, whose images were culled from Gucci’s private archives, is part of the brand’s commemorative projects for its 85th anniversary.
From Cinecittà to Hollywood, from Elizabeth Taylor to Madonna, the book is a sequence of shots of celebrities donning variations of the horse bit, the bamboo bag and the double G logo.
Published by Mondadori Electa and designed by Doug Lloyd, the book will be launched in September to coincide with Gucci’s spring show in Milan. The book will be available in selected bookstores worldwide starting in November. A limited-edition version, wrapped in a “La Pelle Guccissima” slipcase, will be exclusive to Gucci stores from the same date.
As part of the project, Gucci will make a significant donation to The Film Foundation for the restoration of “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974), directed by John Cassavetes and starring Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk. The film will be restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in Los Angeles.
PRADA’S HOLLYWOOD MOMENT: What’s been whispered in fashion circles for a while has just been made official: Prada’s “Waist Down — Skirts by Miuccia Prada” exhibit is moving out West. After Tokyo, Shanghai and New York, the swirling skirts will be showcased at the Prada Epicenter store on 343 North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills July 14-Aug. 27. The installation, staged with Rem Koolhaas‘ Amo division, will feature skirts from Prada collections, starting in 1988. And as in New York, Miuccia Prada plans to attend the opening festivities.