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VAL’S GAL: Between snapping photos from her front-row perch and her mouth dropping open in admiration on multiple occasions, it was hard to miss Ashley Judd’s ogling at Valentino’s couture Monday evening. “It was absolutely stunning,” gushed Judd after the show. “Staggering. I wanted everything.” Judd, passing through Paris via Scotland — where she and her husband, racecar driver Dario Franchitti, live half of the year — on her way to Tennessee, also suggested that she could be doing a little shopping for the red carpet. “One always has these things in the back of the mind,” she said.
SHIFTING TIDES: More changes are afoot at France Luxury Group, the upstart fashion conglomerate whose stable includes Francesco Smalto, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Jacques Fath, Emmanuelle Khanh and the shoe firms Harel and Stephane Kélian. Last week the firm said chief executive Mounir Moufarrige was leaving after selling the group last month to French financier Alain Dumenil. And now it has parted ways with its ready-to-wear designer at Scherrer, Ritu Beri. Beri, who had designed Scherrer for just over a year, said she and Dumenil failed to see eye to eye. “Mr. Dumenil wants to go in a more conservative direction and target more mature women,” Beri said. “They didn’t want to show on the runway any longer. My vision is different.” A spokesman for Dumenil said a successor has not been named. Stephane Roland, who designs Scherrer’s couture, will stay on board. He is scheduled to show today. Changes are also said to be in the works at Jacques Fath and sources said British designer Lizzy Disney may have already exited. She could not be reached for comment.
BLUE NOTE: If you loved the periwinkle color of Halle Berry’s Reem Acra Golden Globes dress, you won’t find it in Acra’s spring collection — or any collection. It was actually a white dress that Berry’s stylist Phillip Block ordered late in the game, since Berry’s appearance to present was a last-minute announcement. Block had it dyed twice to take that fabulous color. Talk about a new trend in red-carpet dressing. It used to be all about dyeing shoes — now it’s about dyeing dresses.
NO SWEAT: The Juicy Couture gals are singing the praises of casual chic to today’s biggest couturiers. They’ve dispatched their best-selling track suits to Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano and Valentino, each customized to their liking. Galliano got simple initials, Valentino’s says “Va-va” for his in-house nickname, while Karl’s is customized with the word — what else — “Slim.”
WHO’S THAT GIRL?: For two days running, Isabella Blow, the eccentric British fashion director at Tatler, has been going conspicuously incognito. First, she hid behind the veil of a burka designed by Japanese label Undercover, and then she was seen peering out from Alexander McQueen’s matador-hat-cum-mask. So what gives? “Initially, I planned to wear a different burka every day,” Blow said. “But I took a little too much verbal abuse from a French journalist yesterday. They got on my case about Kabul. I thought the outfit was about love and passion. Now I’m just hiding. And when you wear a mask, you don’t have to take the time to put on makeup in the morning.”
I LOVE PARIS: Céline has a new project, and it hits close to home. Word has it, the house will introduce a range of special designs next month inspired by its hometown. Céline has already had good success with limited-edition, time-limited products like its recent World Cup and Euro collections. The new items are expected to bow in shops in May.
SPEED FORMULA: Tag Heuer has a new speed demon in its stable. The LVMH-owned watch brand has named four-time Formula One racing champion Alain Prost as its latest ambassador. He joins the ranks of athletes Tiger Woods, Marion Jones, David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve, who already represent the brand.
TREASURE HUNT: In between Sundance screenings and after parties Britney Spears and Gina Gershon scored a few freebies while visiting the Fred Segal Beauty at the Village in Park City, Utah. In addition to an aromatherapy massage, manicure and pedicure, the pop tart picked up a complimentary diamond band from Kwiat Diamonds. Gershon went for the gold, as in a Gold Avenue necklace, and got it free, thanks to the company. Jennifer Lopez, Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes, Liz Phair, and Darryl Hannah have also indulged in the treatments, with Downey stopping by for reflexology three days running.
Hannah, along with her “Northfork” costars James Woods, Nick Nolte, Anthony Edwards and Kyle MacLachlan planned to hitch a ride to their Tuesday night premiere in The North Face Edition Chevy Avalanche. But it wasn’t exactly a free ride. The dress code was North Face and their escorts were company execs.
ACHTUNG BABY!: Markus Ebner, former fashion director at Details magazine, is gearing up to launch his own fashion mag, to be titled Achtung. The debut issue is slated for June. Ebner described it as including men’s and women’s fashion editorial and focused on the energetic creative scene in Germany, which he believes has been more or less neglected by other mainstream mags. “There’s not a single publication that properly characterizes what’s going on creatively right now in Germany and other German-speaking countries,” asserted Ebner, a German national who splits his time between New York and Berlin. “The aesthetic will be pure and the opposite of all of the glossy and poppy magazines out there now.” Ebner said Achtung will start publishing twice a year in German. There are plans to begin publishing quarterly in 2004.