WELL-WELL DU JOUR: With speculation heating up that Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford could step down from Gucci Group when their employment contracts run out next year and Pinault-Printemps-Redoute completes its stock buyout, rumors are bubbling up everywhere about who could possibly take up the design reins from Ford. The latest to surface has Alexander McQueen, one of the young guns in the group’s stable, taking over the Gucci brand. Asked about it Monday night at Harvey Nichols, which was christening a new McQueen shop, the designer said: “I’ve heard those rumors, too, but they’re just not true.” A spokeswoman for the designer drove the point home: “His own collection is so important to him, and that’s his focus. He’s not going to Gucci.” Guests at McQueen’s party included Christina Aguilera, Erin O’Connor, Jodie Kidd, Jessica de Rothschild, Jerry Springer, Sam Taylor Wood and Jasmine Guinness.Meanwhile, over in Paris, designer Loulou de la Falaise, pegged by some as Ford’s imminent successor at Yves Saint Laurent, no matter that she just launched a signature fashion house, had a good chuckle: “I deny it,” she said. “This is the first I’ve heard of it.” BIG IN JAPAN: John Galliano is taking his dream show on the road for Christian Dior. WWD has learned that the star couturier is slated to reprise his recent couture show, and forthcoming Dior ready-to-wear show, in a major fashion spectacle in Tokyo on May 30. It’s all part of the buildup for the December opening of the Dior megastore on Ometesando.SIMS CHILLS OUT: It wasn’t the Colorado rapids, but Molly Sims braved the state’s icy waters during her shoot for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimwear issue. Her assignment? Be perched on a rock in the icy mountain stream wearing only lingerie-inspired swimwear and fly-fishing gear. The shoot at Henry Kravis’ Seven Lakes Lodges in Meeker, Colo., was one of seven Smith commanded during a five-and-a-half month tour. This year’s cover girl, Daniela Pestova, won’t be the only one celebrating once the mag hits newsstands today. Swimwear designer Ambika Conroy provided the crocheted bikini the model wears.“Little Ambika landed the cover,” Smith said. “She’s going to have to start knitting a lot of suits. She’s going to have to get her friends to start knitting with her.”HEY JUDE: Sadie Frost’s nearest and dearest, including Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, and Mario Testino, all showed up to support her at the FrostFrench film presentation on Sunday. The only one missing — for reasons still obscure — was Jude Law. Why? In London, speculation is reaching a fever pitch that she and her longtime partner — and father of their three children — are living apart and fighting for custody of the brood. Both Frost and Law have kept mum so far, with the exception of a statement issued last week asking the press to leave them alone. SHOE GANG: Eve, who’s already launching a line this year, also has a talent for shoe design. The rapper, along with fellow Grammy-nominated singers Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child and Vanessa Carlton, have each designed a limited edition shoe for Candie’s. The shoes won’t hit stores until April, but Carlton and Rowland are scheduled to appear at Macy’s Herald Square on Thursday to promote the new sandals. Retailing between $90 and $125 a pair, proceeds from the shoes will benefit The Grammy Foundation to promote music and art education and The Candie’s Foundation to raise teen pregnancy awareness.PANTY RAID: Valentine’s Day can drive even the most secure lovers over the edge sometimes. Who doesn’t know the pressure of finding that one gift to sum up the significant other’s meaning without disappointing?Last Friday, one such individual seems to have, well, snapped under the pressure of love. Shortly after the doors closed for the day, a burglar entered lingerie store Top Drawer on South Voss in Houston, heading straight to Leigh Bantivoglio’s upscale assortment. Said burglar nicked about $4,000 worth of merchandise, including signature lace camisoles and french cut panties. “We know we have a huge following in Houston,” said Kim Martin, Bantivoglio’s director of marketing. But what’s with stealing lingerie for Valentine’s? “It’s a big mystery,” she said. “Either they really needed to come up with a Valentine’s gift, or maybe wanted something for a chic Valentine’s day party.”And the panty thief is still on the loose.“They’re probably still trying on those panties,” laughed Martin. “It’s nice to be in demand, though. Actually we’re quite flattered.” CHRISTINA CALLING: Christina Aguilera, officially in town to plug the new Siemens Mobile phone, has taken London Fashion Week by storm. On Sunday, at Gharani Strok, the singer was mobbed by fans who nearly sent her reeling to the ground. But the young chanteuse emerged unscathed, appearing later that night at the Another magazine party where she was spotted dancing — and flashing — for Kate Moss and Jefferson Hack. Ah! The burdens of being the only A-lister of fashion week! Stay tuned for more Christina adventures.SOLO ACT: The folks at Xelibri, the new fashion phone from Siemens Mobile, invited Shirley Bassey, Christina Aguilera, and Boy George to perform at their launch event on Saturday, so it’s no wonder that Jay Kay from Jamiroquai was miffed that he wasn’t asked too. “I can’t think why they didn’t ask me to do a number,” said the rumpled and unshaven singer at the party at Old Billingsgate Market in London’s East End. “I could have done a duet with Christina,” he said with a giggle. “And I could have made the hat,” added milliner Cozmo Jenks.AT LIBERTY: “I’m a traitor,” said Matthew Williamson at a party he hosted with stylist Bay Garnett at Liberty of London on Sunday night. “The necklace is by Garrard — not one of my own — but I’m thinking of customizing it with a pink diamond.” The party was held to unveil Williamson’s windows at Liberty, which featured his neon-inspired spring collection. Guests, including Jade Jagger and Pat Field, got the full sensory experience of the collection, sipping fluorescent pink and green drinks made from seaweed and yogurt.

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