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SCANDAL, ITALIAN-STYLE: Diego Della Valle is in the public eye again and it’s not for the latest must-have pebble loafer. After last year’s soccer scandal that involved his team, Fiorentina, the Italian entrepreneur on Monday was questioned by prosecutor Henry John Woodcock in relation to what the Italians have dubbed vallettopoli, or starlet-gate.
The scandal involves a well-known photo agency and its owner, Fabrizio Corona, who is accused of having extorted money from Italian celebrities, starlets, businessmen and a top-league politician by convincing them to buy compromising images that would have otherwise been fodder for tabloids and gossip magazines. Other names mentioned in the case include Barbara Berlusconi, wife of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, and actor Raoul Bova.
According to Italian press reports, Della Valle paid about 50,000 euros, or $66,000, for 22 paparazzi images from last summer depicting him and a small group of friends onboard his boat near Capri. A Tod’s SpA statement said no one has ever attempted any form of extortion or blackmail toward Della Valle since there was no basis for such behavior and that Della Valle has never had any relationship with Corona, whom he doesn’t know. Della Valle said he is bitter about having received unjustified and unfair media pressure over the affair, which didn’t consider the damage the attention would do to his reputation.SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: French actress Emmanuelle Seigner continues to play a starring role in fashion. Over the weekend in Miami, she posed for the forthcoming fall-winter campaign for Celine. Shot by Bruce Weber, the ads also will feature model Bette Franke and two male faces. The multitalented Seigner, who has a role in Julian Schnabel’s upcoming “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” is also flexing her muscles as a singer. Her new album, in collaboration with rock group Ultra Orange, came out in France on Monday.
BACK TO SCHOOL: Giorgio Armani has snagged yet another diploma to adorn his mantle. Just six months after receiving a doctorate from University of the Arts London, Armani has taken home an honorary degree in industrial design from the Politecnico di Milano. On Monday, Politecnico university students packed into a lecture hall to get a glimpse of their hero in a mortarboard and robe. Armani entered the room to a standing ovation and chorus of bravos. In return, he offered up a brief acceptance speech extolling the virtues of democratic fashion and determination. The students seemed impressed. “Considering all the other people they give these degrees to, [Armani] really deserves it,” said Francesco Picconi, a 22-year-old studying graphic design. After the proceedings, Armani continued to dispense his advice for fashion’s next generation. “A collection can be destroyed by the press, but if you believe it, keep at it,” he offered. Along with his scroll, Armani will cherish another souvenir from the occasion: the university’s standard-issue blue-striped necktie he was instructed to wear for the ceremony. “I’m speechless,” he laughed. “But it’s cute. I’ll keep it.”
VALENTINO’S NEW LINE: Wolford and Valentino SpA have signed a license to create a luxury line of bodysuits and tights in shades of black, ivory and “Valentino red.” Characterized by feminine ruches and pleats, the fall 2007 collection will be available from July in all Wolford stores and select Valentino boutiques. The partnership is slated to continue through Wolford’s spring 2008 collection.
SUNNY SMILES: Spring was in the air Thursday afternoon, when Fé Fendi hosted a ladies luncheon celebrating the New York City Ballet’s “Romeo + Juliet,” which will have its world premiere at the Spring Gala on May 1. Huge bouquets of bright pink peonies dotted the tables on the second floor of the Fendi store, where guests like Coco Kopelman, Darci Kistler, Bettina Zilkha, Patricia Shiah and Susan Tabak sipped Champagne and iced tea. And it wasn’t just the bouquets that had everyone in a light mood. “This bag feels like spring to me,” said Jamee Gregory of her pique Fendi bag, bedecked with an image of the company’s Rome store. “It keeps being sunny, then not sunny, so I just wanted to go for it.”
After cocktails, everyone tucked into their meal of white asparagus, salmon and panna cotta, as they took in a trunk show of the fall collection (a portion of the proceeds will support “Romeo + Juliet”), though the clothes were well represented on the guests, as well. “It’s Fendi,” said Marci Mishaan of her silver top. “I was coming so I had to buy something.”
And nearby, Kopelman and Kistler cooed over Fendi’s paper-thin leather skirt as the hostess and Spring Gala chairman kept popping out of her seat to greet latecomers. “I keep missing the clothes!” she laughed as model after model passed by.
PETER OUT: Emanuel Ungaro creative director Peter Dundas arrived in Los Angeles Saturday to prepare for a spring fashion show at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills tonight, but since no designer can fly above the radar here without a party, Dundas did double duty and two dinners over the weekend. After touching down and buying himself a new jacket at YSL’s Rodeo Drive boutique, he dined at Il Sole with stylists Jennifer Rade, Britt Bardo, Johnny Wujek and Alicia Lombardini — who dress Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Kate Mara and Christina Ricci, respectively — then caught Kitten de Ville‘s burlesque act at Key Club on the Sunset Strip and popped into a party for Mandy Moore in the Hollywood Hills that went until 5 a.m. The next night, he headed east to nosh with Silverlake ladies Liz Goldwyn, Arianne Phillips and Bridget Romanek at a dinner hosted by Cameron Silver and Jeff Snyder at Café Stella. “It’s different from the last time I was in L.A. four years ago. Back then, I sat in my hotel room fitting gowns on actresses,” he said. Tonight’s event, where Mara, Kate Walsh, Marisa Tomei, Minnie Driver and Ginnifer Goodwin are expected, will of course be followed by another party — at Bar Marmont hosted by young social couples Todd and Katie Traina and Mary Alice Haney and Graham Larson. Then it’s off to San Francisco for another Neiman’s show and meetings with Ungaro owner Asim Abdullah. “I am also going to stop in New York at week’s end for a friend’s birthday,” the nightlife-loving designer added.
A FASHION ALLY IN L.A.: Ally Hilfiger disappeared from the pop-culture radar four years ago after the end of “Rich Girls,” her MTV reality TV show in which she not only starred but also produced. At 22, the New Yorker is ready for a comeback as an advocate of emerging labels at a boutique she plans to open as soon as July in Los Angeles. One possible location is on Melrose Avenue, across from celebrity favorite Urth Caffe. To be named People’s Place, after the shop that her father, Tommy, launched in Elmira, N.Y., in 1969, the shop will represent a hodgepodge of “Biba and rock ‘n’ roll and hippie chic,” she said. “We want to have really new fashion designers, the best of the best that no one’s carrying.”
Hilfiger scouted new lines last week at fashion shows in Culver City, Calif., including Alvin Valley, Literature Noir and Oligo Tissew, but skipped Kevan Hall and other “fancy dress shows because I don’t need ballgowns,” she said. She also planned to drop by Los Angeles market, which started the day after the runway shows ended, and eventually hop a plane to Tokyo to track trends.
Hilfiger proved her verve for fashion experimentation by wearing a Diane von Furstenberg plaid skirt with a bustle as a dress. She cinched it with a wide Miu Miu belt that matched her black patent leather peep-toe heels from Christian Louboutin and black horn-rimmed spectacles by — who else? — Tommy Hilfiger. Whether she will stock her father’s line, which is owned by Apax Partners, she said coolness trumps lineage. “It’s all about the product,” Hilfiger said. “I don’t care what the brand is.”