HOPE FLOATS: Elie Saab is sailing to new horizons — and extralarge ones. The Lebanese designer just signed a contract with Weyves International Ltd. to design three megayachts, from the interiors to the external lines. The first yacht will be unveiled at the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show next month. Saab also is collaborating with Tiger Woods Dubai on a luxury boutique hotel, the Al Ruwaya, due to open next year. The designer is slated to show his latest couture collection in Paris on Jan. 27.
SITTING PRETTY: Acne, the ubertrendy Swedish fashion label, wants to become part of the furniture with a collection of Acne sofas set to be unveiled at the close of Men’s Fashion Week in Paris on Jan. 24. The event will be held at the Pozzo di Borgo hotel, better known as the former residence of Karl Lagerfeld. Paying homage to renowned Fifties Swedish designer Carl Malmsten, the collection is said to feature riffs on Malmsten’s iconic Berlin sofa, with each piece handmade in a small factory run by the late designer’s grandson, Jerk Malmsten, based in the Swedish countryside.
SNEAK PREVIEW: Step aside, fashion editors. Z Zegna creative director Alessandro Sartori is giving his customers a preview of his next collection. Z Zegna clients now can log on to the Z Zegna blog, Facebook, zegna.com, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr to catch exclusive behind-the-scenes images of the Milan-based designer getting ready for his fall show, which will be held at Ermenegildo Zegna headquarters on Jan. 19. The show then will be streamed live on the Web, after which clients will be able to chat with Sartori about the collection on the label’s blog. Meanwhile, Emporio Armani also is heading to cyberspace come the men’s shows. The Italian label will stream its catwalk presentation live on its Web site and Facebook page on Saturday starting at 4:30 local time.
LONDON’S NEW MONEY: Eight U.K.-based labels have a shot at winning 200,000 pounds, or $320,000 at current exchange, as part of the inaugural British Fashion Council/Vogue Fashion Fund. Angel Jackson, Christopher Kane, Clements Ribeiro, E. Tautz, Erdem, Marios Schwab, Nicholas Kirkwood and Richard Nicoll have been short-listed for the honor, which was created by BFC chairman Harold Tillman in 2008 as a legacy project for the BFC’s 25th anniversary. Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, will chair the judging panel and the magazine will reveal the winner in its May issue. Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director at Harrods, will chair an industry-based committee that will offer the winner mentoring and advice aimed at growing the winner’s brand internationally. The award will be an annual one, and the fund is supported by companies including Arcadia Group, Burberry, Paul Smith, Harrods, Jaeger, Aquascutum, Westfield and Condé Nast UK.
THE GREAT BALLY CHALLENGE: Bally will unveil a series of new footwear designs during London Fashion Week in February, the fruits of a new competition the Swiss brand has undertaken in conjunction with Central Saint Martins. Last fall, Bally selected five master’s degree students from a pool of competitors at the London fashion college and began producing prototypes of their designs at the company’s factories in Switzerland and Italy. “This is not ‘Pop Idol’ for shoes. What we want to do is give young designers the chance to confront the complexity and reality of this business,” said Berndt Hauptkorn, Bally’s chief executive officer, during an interview in London on Friday. Hauptkorn described the partnership with Saint Martins as “long term,” and said it was a means of “keeping Bally fresh and contemporary, and emphasizing our heritage in craftsmanship.” He said that, going forward, Bally plans to expand outside footwear, and work with Saint Martins’ students in accessories or ready-to-wear.