TALKING CALVIN: The Calvin Klein rumor mill went into overdrive on Wednesday with speculation that, (a) the designer’s business could be back on the block; (b) a megadeal is in the works for a new partnership; (c) there’s a major move involving the company’s licenses, or (d) all of the above. A Calvin Klein spokesman would not comment on the rumors, and Barry Schwartz, chairman of Calvin Klein Inc., did not return calls by press time.
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One rumor that’s been circulating for about a month involves Phillips-Van Heusen, which has been in an aggressive growth mode recently, as evidenced by Monday’s announcement of a long-term licensing agreement with Kellwood to produce a moderate-priced women’s lifestyle collection with its Izod label. PVH, also Calvin’s men’s shirt licensee, has been identified as an interested suitor in the bids for Calvin Klein assets held by Warnaco during the underwear and jeans giant’s bankruptcy proceedings.
The common theory is that PVH is interested in taking on the rest of Calvin Klein men’s business, and possibly more. But there’s a hitch (isn’t there always?). Calvin Klein himself has maintained a public policy of “No Sale” since he pulled the company off the market two years ago after several companies — among them, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Gucci Group, Tommy Hilfiger, Dickson Poon, Liz Claiborne and Jones Apparel Group — took a look, but wouldn’t pony up for the estimated total price of $1 billion that Schwartz and Klein were said to be asking for their respective 43 percent shares in the business.
BIG IN JAPAN: You might mistake the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo for the LVMH tower this week. Marc Jacobs checked in Wednesday for a three-day press junket to promote his collaboration on Louis Vuitton accessories next season with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. John Galliano and his design team are here, arriving from China where they were researching upcoming collections for Christian Dior. And the top brass are on their way, too. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman Bernard Arnault and Dior president Sidney Toledano were slated to travel eastward as well.
But not before Arnault could join in the unveiling of Vuitton’s store windows in its Champs-Elysées flagship in Paris on Tuesday night, complete with a special guest decorator. Robert Wilson, the celebrated stage director, found it natural to turn his talents to dressing the brand’s windows for Christmas. “It’s just framing a different type of emotion,” Wilson commented. “Fashion’s as much of a show as anything.” For the windows, which will decorate Vuitton’s stores around the world through early January, Wilson suspended Vuitton bags and clothing from fluorescent walls and then painted the windows with a slanted LV logo. “I’ve always been a huge Bob Wilson fan,” Arnault said, as the fete moved from the sidewalk into the store. “To bring his creativity to Vuitton’s craftsmanship was a natural marriage.” Arnault was referring to the collection of Monogram Vernis bags that Wilson decorated in a range of fluorescent colors with the same slanted monogram used for the Christmas windows. “I didn’t really do that much,” Wilson demurred. “The bags, their forms, already existed. All I did was wrap them up like a Christmas gifts.”
They will be sold in Vuitton stores starting Friday through early January.
AMBASSADOR ARMANI: Giorgio Armani opened the doors of his Milan Teatro on Wednesday to welcome the United Nation’s High Commissioner of Refugees and to premiere a U.N. documentary on the plight of refugees in war-torn Colombia.
The 20-minute film, shot in Ecuador and Colombia and featuring Angelina Jolie, is part of the UNHCR’s effort to raise $8 million in 2003 for displaced people afflicted by guerrilla and paramilitary troops in Colombia.
“I was actually envious of [Jolie],” said Armani, a goodwill ambassador to the UNHCR, following the screening of the film. “I would very much like to go on location and do something such as that.”
He might soon get his wish. The designer said he’s studying a possible trip to Afghanistan with the UNHCR this spring. Meanwhile, Armani said he’s also looking into a possible trade/production agreement with UNHCR-appointed countries. An Armani spokesman said such an agreement could include selling Afghanistan-made products through Armani Casa stores, with all proceeds going to help the Afghan people.