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ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY: After a few weeks of construction setbacks, Breitling launched its first flagship with the help of brand ambassador John Travolta on Thursday. Travolta has been linked with the company since 2005, and braved a red-eye flight to be at the event. He said of president Marie Bodman, “Marie, she’s family, she runs this company like family. She’s real and smart and no bull, she’s everything you want business to be, and should be, and rarely is. So I’m very contented here, and comfortable and confident to be with them.”
Travolta has three as-yet-unnamed film projects in the works, as well as a pending representation deal with aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, and a new son, Benjamin. Travolta said, “As soon as this is over I go to the airport and go home to Benjamin,” and added, “Oh my God, he’s so beautiful and he’s so happy.”
The actor toasted a bustling three-floors of onlookers with the help of a couple of welcome (though slightly out of place) retired sports greats: Wayne Gretzky and Boomer Esiason. Gretzky has been given the full Breitling treatment, and recounted a weeklong trip to the company’s factory in Switzerland last year. He is the newest Breitling spokesman and said, “It’s exciting for me. The watches are beautiful, the people are so nice. We had a ball when we went to Switzerland.…I’m just enjoying myself.”
COULD OLDFIELD BE THE ONE?: The royal wedding dress rumor mill cranked up a gear on Monday, after several British newspapers published images of Kate Middleton’s mother Carole and her sister Pippa outside designer Bruce Oldfield’s Knightsbridge boutique, where they were reportedly snapped last week.
The Daily Mail reported Monday that Oldfield “embraced and kissed the Middleton women” when they visited the store, and also quoted a royal source as saying Middleton had reached a final decision on her dress last week. A spokeswoman for Oldfield declined all comment Monday. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Clarence House, where Prince William and Prince Harry’s offices are based, described the report as “complete speculation.” The Clarence House spokeswoman added that it is unlikely that details of the designer of Middleton’s dress will be released before the wedding.
Oldfield, who is known for having dressed Princess Diana along with London society names such as Jemima Khan and Samantha Cameron, has been a favorite to design Middleton’s dress since her and Prince William’s engagement was announced in November. Later that month, Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, stopped taking bets on who would design Middleton’s dress after it received a “flurry of big stake bets” on Oldfield.
However, if Middleton doesn’t plump for Oldfield, perhaps she’s going to show she’s sensitive to the tough economic times by taking the austerity route. On Friday, the future princess was spotted on a shopping trip to Biscester Village, the designer outlet village in Oxfordshire, with her mother and sister. The trio are said to be regulars at the outlet, and Alice Temperley was one of the stores they visited.
WHEN IN ROME: Dubbed Bollywood’s Brad Pitt and married to actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Indian actor Abhishek Bachchan sat front row at the Salvatore Ferragamo show on Sunday. In perfect English, which he attributed to his studies in Switzerland, Bachchan said he’ll be back in Italy early next year to shoot a thriller in Rome from a Hindi script.
SETTING SAIL: Ports 1961 unveiled its first men’s wear collection with a runway show held in the neoclassical setting of Palazzo Serbelloni. Fittingly, the masculine beauty of classical sculptures was the main inspiration for designers Fiona Chibani and Ian Hylton, who delivered a luxurious lineup that featured fitted, ultraslim silhouettes. The collection included double-breasted cashmere and vicuna coats, Prince of Wales check suits, and intarsia cashmere sweaters. The only extravagance in this subtle and chic lineup was in a pair of Persian lamb trousers. The New York-based company currently wholesales worldwide and has boutiques in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai while a Paris opening is set for fall, and a Milan flagship is in the pipeline.
MEN AT WORK: Lapo Elkann continued his crusade to promote Italian excellence by unveiling the latest collection for denim brand Care Label as part of Milan trade fair White. In a disused warehouse amid frenzy worthy of a rock star, the Agnelli heir and stakeholder in the line, together with fellow designer Leopoldo Durante, waxed lyrical about denim’s democratic appeal. “I want to highlight the workmanship and the spirit of this Italian company. Unlike other brands, we have nothing to hide, and we’re not afraid to show our factory and how we work,” Elkann said of the manufacturing installation that highlighted the selvedge denim process. The workwear-inspired 35-piece collection also spanned colorful cords and crumpled chinos.
ABOUT FACE: After years of concentrating on its seasonal scents, Escada is not only getting a new signature fragrance this summer, but has signed on Israeli model Bar Refaeli as the fragrance’s face. Neither Escada nor beauty licensee Procter & Gamble would say more about the project, which will have its global launch in Berlin this spring. Refaeli and the Munich fashion house, however, are getting a head start on their collaboration in the German capital on Wednesday. Refaeli is expected to attend the Escada Sport fashion show, which will be staged as a modern fairy tale in a glacial setting constructed in the ME Collector’s room for 600 guests.
KICKOFF: Nike and the French Football Federation on Monday unveiled the new home uniform for France’s soccer team. “Footballers are some of the most passionate and committed athletes in the world,” said Mark Parker, president and chief executive officer of Nike Inc. The redesign includes a darker hue that’s a mix of the blue found in the French flag and navy. A red detail appears when cuffs are rolled up, and the uniform’s fabric — a polycotton — is made of recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton. The French team jersey will be sold starting Feb. 5 in 900 French stores and 400 doors elsewhere around the world. It will worn by French players starting on Feb. 9, when France plays Brazil.
Adidas formerly sponsored the French national soccer team.