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SUPERMARKET SWEEP: Ron Burkle seems to have been bitten by the fashion bug once again. The billionaire supermarket magnate who founded The Yucaipa Cos. was spotted front row at Marc Jacobs‘ show on Monday night and is also said to be looking into British jeweler Stephen Webster‘s firm, according to sources. A spokeswoman for Webster declined comment. Webster wouldn’t be a surprising next step for Burkle. Last year, speculation swirled that Webster would take over Jade Jagger‘s role as creative director for Garrard, which Yucaipa holds. Garrard said it would be renegotiating Jagger’s contract in September. As far as fashion brands go, Burkle already made a significant investment in Diddy‘s Sean John.
ITALIAN VISIT: Tod’s chief Diego Della Valle took in his first Derek Lam show on Tuesday. Naturally, he seemed pleased with the work of the designer, whom he just appointed creative director of Tod’s. “It was beautiful, very feminine, very luxurious,” he said after the show. “I liked it a lot.” Della Valle was joined by Domenico De Sole, who was Lam’s mentor as part of the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund, and CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg.
HEY, MICKEY: It may come as a bit of a surprise that Millard “Mickey” Drexler has never been to a fashion show before, but that’s actually been the case for J. Crew’s chairman and chief executive officer — until the Doo.Ri show on Tuesday. Drexler is mentoring Doo-Ri Chung for one year as part of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and so he came to the tents with his 14-year old daughter, Katherine. “We’re both here to so support Doo-Ri,” Drexler said. “I am very excited.”
“I am here to hold his hand,” Barneys New York’s Howard Socol chimed in from the seat to his right. “Doo-Ri couldn’t have a better mentor.”
V FOR VIVIENNE: Get ready for another feature film about fashion, and this one spans from punk to the Paris runways. According to sources, Hollywood producer Brian Grazer has signed up to do a movie based on the life of maverick London designer Vivienne Westwood. Grazer, producer of such films as “The Da Vinci Code” and “A Beautiful Mind,” is said to be heading to Paris later this month to soak up the atmosphere of Paris Fashion Week. A Westwood spokesman declined to comment.
CLOSE CUT: Hedi Slimane is expanding his artistic range, and has directed his first television commercial. It’s for the new Dior men’s fragrance, Fahrenheit 32, and stars the French model-actor Arnaud Valois. Slimane follows in some famous footsteps, as Ridley Scott and David Lynch both have directed ads for Fahrenheit. Slimane’s spots, destined for cinema and television, are slated to make their debuts in France next month.
ON DISPLAY: Giorgio Armani‘s new and improved retrospective is finally coming to his hometown and the designer is planning a mega bash during fashion week to celebrate. The worlds of art and fashion will coalesce for the opening event Feb. 19 — the same day as the Giorgio Armani show — at the Triennale. The contemporary art museum is dedicating some 43,000 square feet to the designer, about double the space the original “Giorgio Armani: Retrospective” enjoyed on its six-year world tour, organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The exhibit, which will run until April 1, features more than 600 items including apparel, sketches, recordings, videos and many a sparkly gown, since Swarovski is sponsoring the exhibit. Word has it that Armani has designed a new crystal stone for Swarovski to commemorate the occasion.
Armani isn’t the only Milan designer in celebration mode. Gianfranco Ferré, hardly a party animal of seasons past, will wrap up fashion week with a soiree Feb. 23. The event will feature a live performance by Skin, who appeared in Ferré’s spring-summer advertising campaign.
HIGH STREET HYSTERIA: So where’s the news going to come from in London next week? The catwalks, or the high street? Hot designers of the moment Christopher Kane and Marios Schwab will unveil capsule collections for Topshop on Saturday, a few days before showing their respective main lines during London Fashion Week. And while the Topshop designer collections, which are generally priced from $83 to $217, might be a fraction of the cost of Kane’s and Schwab’s regular fare, they have all the trademarks of their full-priced lines. Kane’s collection features nude chiffon minidresses with rococo lace trims at the sleeves — and fluorescent zippers — while Schwab’s use layered Lycra to create his signature body-conscious silhouettes.
But that’s not all. Giles Deacon has unveiled his 35-piece collection for British high street retailer New Look, which will launch March 13 at the chain’s stores. The collection, Gold, features a black cotton dress adorned with amber jewel details; pink and grey silk print tops, and skinny jeans with gold embroidery. There’s jewelry, too, including a gold-effect tiger pendant and a jagged-edge gold effect bracelet. Prices will range from about $8 for earrings to $118 for a cotton sateen coat. Drew Barrymore will feature in the line’s promotional shots, which were styled by Katie Grand.
JUDITH’S JEWELS: After 30 years designing jewelry, it’s not surprising Judith Ripka has an impressive personal collection. But what’s fascinating about the collection — which has been locked up in her vault until now — is that they are pieces that have never been sold at retail. “I just love jewelry,” said Ripka, “but I always say, ‘I like all children, but I like mine the best.'” For her own jewelry, Ripka seeks out the rarest stones, such as copper tourmaline and pistachio-colored South Sea Pearls, which are hard to come by, but nonetheless inspire her selling collection. Now, she’s ready to part with some of it — i.e., approximately 50 pieces ranging in price from $4,500 to $950,000. Several pieces are on display this week at Ripka’s booth at the tents at Bryant Park, and the collection will travel throughout the firm’s 13 retail stores as well as select Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores. “There are people that keep Picassos in their house and one day they wake up and say it’s time to share it,” said the designer. “I feel very proud and I know they’re [whoever buys it] going to get positive karma when they wear it.”
THE DOCTOR IS IN: The original red-carpet critic Joan Rivers had a vested interest in catching Tuesday’s Bill Blass show. Blass’ Michael Vollbracht is designing the comedian’s dress for this month’s Oscars. “First we work out what I don’t want to show, then we go from there,” she said.
Across the runway, Dr. Ruth, who knows a few things about show-offs, said she doesn’t mind being one from time to time. The sexpert said she has turned up for Blass runway shows since Bill Blass designed a red, white and blue pantsuit ensemble for her for a visit to the Clinton White House. “It’s great: I can be a professor at Yale and Princeton and at the same time come here to get all this attention. Of course, at one school you can’t say the name of the other.”
The good doctor didn’t name names, but she did take it upon herself to bring up the ultrathin-model issue. “It’s not the models’ responsibility, but the industry’s responsibility to make sure these models aren’t so skinny. They are role models for young women and I believe to enjoy sex you have to have a certain amount of energy. That energy comes from eating.”
Her rowmate, Ron Frasch, a grandfather who also has young children, must have gotten an earful during the show. But the Saks Fifth Avenue honcho was keeping mum afterward. “She asked for my business card,” was all he would say.
FASHION-FORWARD FOOD: Giada De Laurentiis is giving new meaning to the phrase “designer food.” The host of the popular Food Network programs “Everyday Italian,” “Behind the Bash” and “Giada’s Weekend Getaways,” will be cooking up some new recipes inspired by 7th on Sixth designers. On Thursday evening, De Laurentiis will provide the fare at a Peroni-sponsored cocktail at the IMG lounge in the lobby of the Bryant Park tents. The chef plans to serve such fashionable bites as Oscar de Polenta, Duckie Brownies (made with espresso), Carlos Mielon and Prosciutto Panini, Nanette’s Pizzettes with Gorgonzola and tomatoes and Swordfish Spiedini von Furstenberg. De Laurentiis seems perfectly suited for the fabulosity of fashion week. As the granddaughter of director Dino De Laurentiis, she’s no stranger to celebrities and her husband is a designer for Anthropologie.
SHOW GIRLS: Alice Temperley got some moral support from Sophie Dahl and Natalia Vodianova, who were perched in her front row Tuesday. Dahl’s second book, “Playing With Grown-Ups” isn’t due out until October, but she already has a third in the works. That one will be her first stab at nonfiction. In the meantime, she is writing away for Men’s Vogue about her “insights into women’s minds — for whatever that’s worth.”
Temperley’s show was her last fashion week stop. “This is it and I’m so happy,” she said. “I leave for London tomorrow [today].”
Vodianova’s husband, Justin Portman, another front rower, was also pleased to have an abbreviated itinerary. Watching her walk in Thursday’s Calvin Klein show was his only other fashion-related assignment. Vodianova was sporting the team colors even at another designer’s show. “She’s wearing Calvin like a good girl,” he said.
BIG ON BETSEY: Betsey Johnson attracted quite the bevy of semi-famous faces to her show on Tuesday afternoon. Russell Simmons and his brother, Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, were there, as was Fran Drescher and Howard Stern‘s lady friend, Beth Ostrovsky. Todd Oldham was happy to cheer on Johnson. “The world is a prettier place because of Betsey,” he mused. Oldham is on his way to superstardom if the Bravo reality competition “Top Design” is anything like its other successful shows, which, so far, it is. “We’ve had the biggest debut in Bravo history,” he said, smiling.
A NEW BENZ: By the time Chris Benz had climbed to the upstairs dining room at Raoul’s in SoHo for a celebratory dinner Monday night, he was able to reflect on the step his career had just taken with the presentation at Christie’s of his first signature collection. “It was wonderful; just great,” said the Parsons star and former J. Crew designer when asked if the experience lived up to years of expectations. While there are similarities to working for a fashion house and on one’s own, particularly in zeroing in on consumer targets, Benz noted, the change in method is a completely different ballgame. At J. Crew, “you design for a box and it’s edited down. On your own, you do everything that’s right and it’s liberating.”
As he was speaking, guests started arriving for the dinner that was hosted by his friend Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann and Lancôme, which had provided the makeup artistry for his presentation. Rossellini Wiedemann, who is a Lancôme spokesmodel, has just helped formulate an eco-friendly energy-conservation program for the company and she said she is pondering how to apply the same green thinking to fashion. But her focus right now is on graduating in May from The New School, where she is studying politics, history and economics. After graduation day, her first priority is to “take a rest,” then maybe tackle grad school. The 20 friends gathered for the celebration included Cuba Gooding Jr., Lola Schnabel, Eva Amurri and Lancôme national artistic director Ross Burton. They were joined later by Amber Valletta and Shalom Harlow, who arrived after the Marc Jacobs show ended
SMELL YOU LATER: Body sprays may have gone the way of the 8-track, but Sean “Diddy” Combs is determined to bring them back into fashion — at least for a few months. Combs will launch a cooling body spray version of his men’s fragrance, Unforgivable, in department stores in March. The 6-oz. aerosol spray will retail for $24. As Combs opined shortly before the original scent was launched: “There are millions of men that are taking my lead, and I’ve got to make sure that they come into the promised land of sexy.”
MEN ARE FROM MARS…: Felicity Huffman celebrated the release of her campy instructional book, “A Practical Handbook for Boyfriends,” on Monday night at Los Angeles specialty store Iconology. Huffman, dressed in a chic black Zac Posen dress, said the book — which was cowritten by friend and TV and film producer Patricia Wolff — “is a decoder ring for the boyfriend. There are a lot of really simple things that couples keep getting wrong….It’s very tongue-in-cheek, though. We’re not trying to be experts.” Fellow “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria joined the party by playfully leaping onto the red carpet while Huffman was giving interviews, startling her cast mate, then giggling like a true prankster.