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Cornejo in London… Sophie’s Choice… Holiday Mingling With Mizrahi…

WWD talked to designer Maria Cornejo over coffee at Claridge’s.

DESIGNS ON LONDON: Maria Cornejo returned to London earlier this week to attend the British Fashion Awards and mark her collection’s launch in Harvey Nichols for spring. The Chilean designer already counts Dover Street Market, The Cross and Joseph as her London stockists. Cornejo, who studied at London’s Ravensbourne College in the Eighties, had a London-based collection with John Richmond and moved to New York in 1996. Over coffee at Claridge’s, she said she’s observed a few differences between how British and American women interpret her collections. “In London, there’s a slight disrespect about rules. What I’ve learned from New York is that customers like things to be wearable and comfortable,” said Cornejo, who’s recently added men’s wear and swim wear to her Zero + Maria Cornejo line. “Women have many lives in a day, and I try to do the best I can to accommodate that. If I have a meeting at my son’s school, I don’t want to look like a total fashion freak. I think, ‘Could I wear this to Trader Joe’s?’” she said with a smile. Cornejo’s business partner Marysia Woroniecka said they are hoping to open a London store next year. “We’re thinking about it — it could happen in late spring, even if it was something we did more as a project,” said Woroniecka. “We wouldn’t want it to be just another shop front on a street.”

This story first appeared in the December 11, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

SOPHIE’S CHOICE: With the euphoria after last month’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund gala now hopefully settled, it’s on to the next stage for winner Sophie Theallet and the two runners-up, Patrik Ervell and Monique Péan. The program comes with a year-long mentorship, and the mentors were unveiled at a meeting at Council of Fashion Designers of America president Diane von Furstenberg’s studio on Thursday morning. Oscar de la Renta will work with Theallet; Tiffany & Co. chairman and chief executive officer Michael Kowalski will mentor Péan, and industry consultant Robert Burke will do the honors for Ervell. “This year we were very successful in matching the designers directly with the people that were at the top of their list,” CFDA executive director Steven Kolb said.

Meanwhile, the CFDA’s “American Fashion Cookbook,” which was released earlier this year and features 100 recipes by designers such as Carolina Herrera, Isaac Mizrahi and Derek Lam, has become the best-selling book at the Assouline boutique in New York’s Plaza Hotel.

FESTIVE DRESSING: Between Isaac Mizrahi’s busy schedule with QVC, Liz Claiborne and his signature label, the maestro of high-low found a little time to host a holiday party for his uptown friends Wednesday at his 67th Street store. Mizrahi professed to simply “live for the holidays,” but there was another celebratory occasion at hand: the debut of his limited edition capsule collection of holiday dresses. While guests including Nina Santisi, Kelly Rutherford, Annette Lauer and Fiona Rudin admired the goods, only party co-host Muriel Brandolini, wearing a black, fur and jewel-trimmed style, had an advance on the capsule collection. And she earned it. In addition to playing hostess, Brandolini said she put her professional decorator skills to work in the store: “I came in and said, ‘We must put the Christmas tree on the table.’”

SHOOTING MCQUEEN: New York-based director Sean Capone has been named the winner of Raw Power, a film competition commissioned by Alexander McQueen, Puma and Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio Web site. As part of the competition, launched in July, filmmakers were invited to submit a two-minute film to SHOWstudio, inspired by an image Knight had created for McQueen’s Puma collection. The image, called Crane Vs Tiger, depicts a man morphing into a tiger and a woman morphing into a crane. Capone’s winning film mixes footage of a man performing martial arts with footage of the roaring tiger from Knight’s original shoot. Now, Capone will work with McQueen to direct a new film for the Alexander McQueen Puma spring 2010 collection, which will launch on fashion Web sites and be shown in select department stores and boutiques starting in January.

GUINNESS’ GEMS: Lulu Guinness took to the stage at London’s Royal Institute of British Architects Tuesday night to speak at an event hosted by the U.K. Fashion and Textile Association. Guinness, known for her quirky, ultrafeminine line of accessories, discussed topics that ranged from the early days of her business — “If a buyer would take three bags on sale or return, then that was an amazing day,” she said — through to where she finds her inspiration: “I get my best ideas when I’m in the bath in the morning or when I’m driving,” the designer noted. Guinness also had advice for the number of fledgling designers who had gathered in the audience. “On bad days I want to say, ‘No, never do this.’ But people have dreams and they should follow them, though there’s definitely a lot of reality in [being a designer] too.” But Guinness did dish on some of the more glamorous aspects of helming her own accessories label. “Madonna came and rang the bell [at Guinness’ Ledbury Road shop] once. She was wearing a hoodie — the girl in the shop came back [to the office] saying she had a credit card that said Madonna Ciccone,” said Guinness. “She bought one of my hanging rose baskets with velvet roses, after she’d seen it in a magazine. It was in the days before stylists existed — now you’d just send your stylist off instead.”

WITH HONORS: The French sure love their fine linens and sheets. On Wednesday night, Joan Carl, chairman of D. Porthault, was granted a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by the French government. France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, personally chose Carl to receive the award, which was given to her at the French Residence in Washington. “Thomas Jefferson said, ‘France is every man’s second country,’” Carl said after she was pinned with the iconic red lapel. “How right he was. The culture, camaraderie, beauty and elegance of France are unmatched anywhere in the world.” Carl joins a group of notable women who have received the honor, including Josephine Baker, Pamela Harriman, Julia Child and Barbra Streisand.

BOAT HOUSE: Tsumori Chisato, the quirky, fantasy-charged Japanese brand which recently hijacked “The Little Prince” as a theme for one of its fashion collections, is to collaborate with Petit Bateau on a baby, kids and adult capsule clothing collection for fall/winter. Vanessa Paradis, Helena Christensen and Antony Hegarty count among Tsumori Chisato fans.

REYTER FOR MASS RETAIL: Los Angeles jeweler Adina Reyter, known for her simple signature circle pendant design, has rounded up a big partner in Wal-Mart. She has created a collection for the Love, Earth jewelry line that uses mining and manufacturing facilities adhering to the retailer’s sustainability standards. The debut collection of around 16 pieces, including a $38 sterling silver brushed disc ring and a $58 twisted circle pendant necklace out of sterling silver and 10-karat gold, is currently rolling out across the Wal-Mart chain and is being sold online. Reyter isn’t affiliating with Wal-Mart for a fleeting gig like jewelers Dominique Cohen and Dean Harris did with Target for that retailer’s Go International program. Instead, Reyter’s involvement with Wal-Mart is expected to be long-term, although neither she nor the retailer would divulge details. Reyter started Adina Design Inc. in 2001 and her namesake jewelry line, which runs from roughly $40 to $1,000-plus, has been picked up by boutiques across the country such as Diane Merrick, Belle Gray and Jennifer Kaufman in Southern California.

FOOD AND FASHION: They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Retailer Jay Kos is hoping the same holds true for his wallet. Today, Kos, who owns the store on Madison Avenue, will launch a blog: “Jay Kos, the Bon Viveur: The Gentleman’s Guide to the Epicurean.” The difference between his blog and others targeted to the fashion customer is that Kos’ will revolve around food. “I love to cook, and food is part of my inspiration for my fashion,” said the retailer, who opened his first store in New York City in 1996.

Each month, jaykos.com will feature Kos shopping at the green market in his favorite outfits and then whipping up a different dish. The first? Lamb and sausage meatballs, purchased while wearing an olive and brown suit. According to the blog: “Food…fashion. Food through its amazing colors, textures and taste, inspire me to create beautiful clothing, whether it is a bright yellow egg dish that becomes a hop sack cashmere jacket of the same hue, or a green cashmere sweater born from a vibrant pea.”

Although Kos has other interests, including mountain biking, the blog will remain focused on food. “I don’t want this to be a man’s guide on how to be a man,” he said. “There are plenty of those out there.” There will, however, be a link that will take interested foodies to the Jay Kos Web site in case they want to pick up that olive suit.

 

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