STAFF ANNOUNCEMENT: Not that a single soul in the fashion industry doesn't already know it, but...Hugo Boss AG formally acknowledged Friday that Marty Staff, president and chief executive officer of Hugo Boss USA, and Vincent Ottomanelli, chief financial officer, have been put on a paid leave of absence. The announcement confirms a report in WWD on May 20. Official word then was that the fun-loving Staff, who had winged off to one of his favorite haunts, Las Vegas, was on vacation. Asked about reports that the German parent is looking at possible accounting irregularities at Boss, a spokesman said, "No comment." Several sources have indicated that an internal audit has been conducted at the company.A spokesman also confirmed that in the interim, Tony Lucia, senior vice president of sales, is in charge, and it's "business as usual" at Boss in the U.S.FERRAGAMO'S AMERICAN CHIEFS: Jean-Marc Gallot was appointed president and regional director of Ferragamo USA on Friday. The post was previously held by Salvatore Ferragamo's youngest son, Massimo Ferragamo, who will become chairman of the American operation. The 37-year-old Gallot joined the company in May 2001 as executive vice president and U.S. regional director. Prior to joining Ferragamo USA, he was president of Christofle Silver Inc. for two years, the U.S. subsidiary of Christofle Inc."It's a family-owned business," Gallot said. "So, I think it's important to bring in outside management to get a different perspective and make Ferragamo stronger."COUTURE COUP: Could Valentino be doing double couture duty this summer? The Roman designer is a fixture during Paris couture week, but his hometown is reportedly trying to seduce him to show during Rome's Alta Moda, too. Valentino insiders point out that every year rumors surface that the designer will participate in the Eternal City's lesser-known couture event, but that no decision has been reached. Valentino will definitely show during Paris Couture, as usual, however.FIELD TRIP: They want to be a part of it. More French fashion journalists are slated to descend on New York Fashion Week thanks to luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The group, recognizing that only a handful of Paris publications send reps to Manhattan for the shows due to the expense, plans to invite a select group of editors, perhaps half a dozen, next season. LVMH owns Donna Karan and also has investments in Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors. Of course, invited delegates will also be free to cover all other shows, according to LVMH officials. French publications that regularly attend the New York shows include French Vogue, Figaro Madame, Numero and L'Officiel.EVERYONE'S BEST FRIEND: "I remember when Martin was selling diamonds out of his apartment," said "ER" star Eriq La Salle, who joined Martin Katz customers Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber at the official opening of Katz's diamond jewelry emporium in Beverly Hills the other night. "He educated me about diamond jewelry -- and now, unfortunately, I know too much." Evidence was the large stud in his left ear. "Let's leave it at that."BAD BLOOD: Mario Boselli, president of Italy's Camera Nazionale della Moda, is probably one of the most respected, true gentlemen around. His gentle side is getting a bit tarnished, however, thanks to the calendar clash between Milan and New York. Boselli was quoted in the New York Post last Friday as saying that he believed New York runway organizers were taking advantage of the Sept. 11 anniversary as a way to "abandon the uncomfortable position of opening the season."But Boselli says his message was taken out of context. "What I intended to say was that there was suspicion within the industry that New York may have been trying to use Sept. 11 as an instrument to rearrange its position within the calendar," Boselli stated. "We completely respect the victims of Sept. 11 and I didn't believe my statement was strong or inflammatory."When asked what he thought about New York's commitment to return to its original calendar position next season, Boselli replied: "If that's truly the case, then the hypothesis would be incorrect and I would be wrong."As reported, New York and London have swapped fashion weeks, and now New York overlaps with the start of Milan fashion week. Boselli went on to say that he and the rest of the Italian fashion industry were disillusioned by the lack of cooperation from New York runway organizers. "I just don't believe this is a way to confront problems," Boselli maintained. "There must be a spirit of collaboration, and thus far, New York has not budged an inch."WHY KNOTT?: Louis Feraud, contemplating its new direction following the exit of designer Yvan Mispelaere last March, is said to be in pursuit of designer Jean Paul Knott. The Paris-based designer, who spent much of his career at Yves Saint Laurent and has also consulted for Krizia, has been producing a signature collection for the past three years. Mispelaere could not immediately be reached for comment. Feraud, now controlled jointly by Escada AG and the Dutch Firm Secon, may cease its couture activities to focus on high-end ready-to-wear, as reported. The firm is expected to announce its new strategy shortly. Reached late last week, Feraud's managing director Michael Rover declined to comment on the house's intentions.

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