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In Brief: Polo Taps Bellanger … Slowdown Ahead? …

POLO TAPS BELLANGER: Vanessa Bellanger has been named design director for women’s Collection at Polo Ralph Lauren, a new post. She reports to Max Wilson, vice president of design for the women’s Collection. Most recently, Bellanger worked...

POLO TAPS BELLANGER: Vanessa Bellanger has been named design director for women’s Collection at Polo Ralph Lauren, a new post. She reports to Max Wilson, vice president of design for the women’s Collection. Most recently, Bellanger worked with John Galliano at Christian Dior and was considered one of his muses. She is the daughter of Gardner Bellanger, who was president and director general of Condé Nast France until last April. According to a Polo spokesman, Bellanger will relocate to New York and begins next Monday.

SLOWDOWN AHEAD?: Concerns over the price of gas and the broader economy have combined in a one-two punch that’s knocked down 41 percent of consumers’ spending plans — to “less than usual” levels — from now through May, according to an NPD survey of 2,654 adults, ages 18-and-up, conducted last week. That result marked a nearly fourfold increase over the 11 percent who said they’d spend less than usual, in the year-ago period, and was more than twice the 18 percent who said they’d spend less than usual for holiday 2002. Also curtailing projected spending were people’s expectations of war with Iraq (24 percent); the health of their employers (22 percent); the state of the stock market (21 percent); the threat of terrorism (13 percent), and international government relationships (12 percent). When asked about discretionary spending priorities in 16 categories, the biggest share of the demographically representative group cited plans to cut back on video games (65 percent). Large appliances were next (62 percent), followed by jewelry and accessories (61.9 percent); consumer electronics (60.5 percent), and cookware and tabletop (58.9 percent). Apparel ranked 13th, as 43.3 percent said they’ll spend less than usual.