VIDAL FINALE: Procter & Gamble is pulling the plug on the Vidal Sassoon hair care line in North America. Shipments of the ailing brand end in February and March. A P&G spokesman said the company will be "stepping back and re-evaluating the right way to leverage the brand," since P&G believes Vidal Sassoon carries with it a "strong brand heritage." The product will continue its international distribution.

Analysts and industry insiders began pegging the brand as one that P&G could easily drop when its relaunch in 2000 showed signs of failing. Apparently, consumers became confused when, overnight, Vidal Sassoon hair care went from a mid-priced brand positioned on cleansing to an upscale brand with a fashion image. Prices jumped from $3-$5 to $5-$12. Vidal Sassoon hair care launched in 1974 and became a mass line in 1985 when P&G bought the Vidal Sassoon trademark. Sales of Vidal Sassoon hair care dropped nearly 40 percent to $25.4 million for the 52-week period ended Dec. 1 against the prior-year period, according to data from Information Resources.

HE’LL TAKE MANHATTAN: Balenciaga confirmed Tuesday that French designer Nicolas Ghesquière will show his fall 2003 collection in New York on Feb. 13 to coincide with the opening of his Manhattan flagship at 524 West 22nd Street. Guests at the 3:30 p.m. presentation, which will be held at an undisclosed location near the store, will be invited to tour the store afterward, according to a Balenciaga spokesman. But Parisians will be the first to get a glimpse of the new retail concept, with elements by contemporary artist Dominique Gonzales-Foerster. Half of Ghesquière’s George V boutique closed for renovation last summer and was slated to reopen today.

NICOLE HEADS BACK: Nicole Miller is heading back to the Bryant Park tents after a two-year hiatus. Bud Konheim, chief executive officer of Nicole Miller, said Tuesday that he had booked the 6 p.m. time slot on Feb. 9 in The Atelier venue, the first time the firm’s runway show would be on a Sunday.

"We left the tents because we didn’t like the herd mentality," Konheim said. "But with the new, small venue, and the fact that we haven’t done it in several seasons, we felt it was time to go back."The Atelier is planned as a 5,000-square-foot white space with a 120-foot, U-shaped runway, with seating for 260 guests and room for 120 standing. The space will rent for $14,000 and is expected to house three or four shows each day.

Miller had moved its presentations to its showroom at 525 Seventh Avenue as a change of pace from the 7th On Sixth tents, but some criticized the location’s tight squeeze.

RAZZLE DAZZLE: It may have been a particularly chilly afternoon, but on Tuesday, Queen Latifah brought some much-needed heat to Third Avenue.

The rapper-actress, who portrays Matron Mama Morton in "Chicago," unveiled Bloomingdale’s sexy new windows dedicated to the hit movie. Created in conjunction with Lycra spandex and Hue legwear, the mannequins wear thigh-highs and demure Lurex fishnets. "I love fishnets when they have a little rip in them," Queen Latifah said. "Mama likes a little bit of sleaze."

A DELECTABLE FIT: Lord & Taylor has been updating its fashion from floor to floor. Now the food is about to get tastier, too. Chef Larry Forgione is opening two restaurants inside L&T’s Fifth Avenue flagship, beginning in March, with An American Place on the fifth floor, replacing Cafe American Style. On the menu: main course salads, luncheon entrees, American flatbread pizza, hot and cold beverages and desserts. "It will be very contemporary looking and a perfect complement to the new direction of Lord & Taylor," said Lavelle Olexa, senior vice president of fashion direction.

Forgione, known as the "godfather of American cuisine," is also creating a second restaurant on L&T’s sixth floor, replacing the Soup Bar. It’s yet to be named, but the flavor will certainly be American. L&T continues to use "The Signature of American Style" theme in its ads.

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