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SCALING NEW HEIGHTS: Look who just bought a piece of the Eiffel Tower: Bernard Arnault. No, it isn’t a joke of the Brooklyn Bridge variety. The luxury titan has taken a 7 percent stake in the company that will operate the Parisian landmark starting at the end of the year and do so for one year. The contract to run the tower changes hands annually. An LVMH spokesman characterized the investment, believed to amount to $100,000, as symbolic. But the tower itself does serious business, attracting more than six million visitors a year and generating revenues of about 50 million euros, or $67 million.
FIRST HE’LL TAKE MANHATTAN: If you see a commotion on the streets of New York later this month, look for a slim man in a dark suit with white hair at its epicenter. Karl Lagerfeld is coming to town to shoot ad campaigns for Chanel, Fendi and Lagerfeld Gallery. The designer, whose own brand is now owned by Tommy Hilfiger, is also on the hunt for a Manhattan apartment. He’s angling for a place that will be a great backdrop for his collection of German Expressionist furniture. Not that he’s moving to America. “But I’m on the move all the time,” he quipped.
INDIAN INTENTIONS: Donatella Versace is visiting India for the first time in her life, but there’s more on the itinerary than just buying up reams of silk fabric and schmoozing with high society (which she already covered in the first day or so). Tonight the designer is making a special appearance on India’s answer to “Project Runway,” helping Indian fashion gurus Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla pick the “Lakme Fashion House” winner, whose prizes include an internship at Versace and a fast track entry to participate in Lakme India Fashion Week 2005. “We hope to nurture budding talent and give them a platform to make an impact in the high fashion industry,” said Versace.
A BEAUTIFUL LIFE: American Beauty spokeswoman Ashley Judd made her first public appearance for the Estée Lauder-owned cosmetics brand Thursday, drawing more than 250 fans to a Los Angeles area Kohl’s Department Store. Clad in a springlike yellow-and-gray Rebecca Taylor frock and ivory Jimmy Choo slingback sandals, Judd massaged her elbows with American Beauty’s Deep Dish Body Moisturizer before cutting a giant ribbon surrounding the Beauty Bank section inside the two-week old Kohl’s location in Alhambra, Calif. The brand, Judd said, “embodies the fresh spirit of American beauty and celebrates American style.”
But while Judd showed plenty of appreciation for fans, she had limited patience for the photographers. “This is not about you anymore,” she said to the press corps after the autograph session began. “It’s about them.”
HERE’S TO HADLEY: Duane Hampton, Amy Fine Collins and Paul Goldberger helped Parsons School of Design honor the doyen of interior design, Albert Hadley, Tuesday at the Rainbow Room. Hadley worked his magic in the homes of Brooke Astor, Babe Paley, and Happy Rockefeller, and lent a hand to Sister Parish on the Kennedy White House. A 1949 Parsons grad, Hadley received the first Parson Centurion Award for Design Excellence from his alma mater, which is a division of New School University. But he’s not resting on his laurels. Hadley is looking forward to continue to pow-wow with Parsons “as it helps to set the agenda for the future of the field.”
BONO STYLE: “I am a fashion disaster,” declared Bono. “You should never look like you iron your hair.” Shades on, hair slicked, the trademark look still looked cool as the U2 star and his entourage visited Saks Fifth Avenue last Friday to launch the environmentally friendly and socially conscious Edun collection. It’s the brainchild of Bono, his wife, Ali Hewson, and designer Rogan Gregory. “My wife told me, ‘I’m interested as long as you stay out of the fashion.’”
“Like the world needs another clothing line.” Bono said. “But we think this is a very special one.”
Saks thinks so, too. According to its chairman and chief executive officer Fred Wilson, Edun is a “very high profile, big rollout” being launched in all Saks doors and on saks.com, exclusively in the U.S., with the exception of a few small specialty stores. “We are going to be partners for a very long time.”
Bono made it clear that Edun is for profit, not a charity, and that the idea is “to treat people in the undeveloped world in a nonpatronizing way. It’s hard for them to put their products on our shelves. It’s very hard for Africa to compete. It’s very important that we use Saks’ reach. I didn’t want this to be another corner-shop idea.”