BARNEYS SEARCH: It appears Harold D. Reiter, chairman and chief executive officer of Herbert Mines Assoc., has landed the search for the successor to Howard Socol, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Barneys New York. Socol didn’t groom a successor, and the pool of candidates with luxury retail experience is shallow, so Reiter will have his work cut out for him. Barneys’ owner Istithmar is under enormous pressure to quickly find a successor to Socol, who will depart at the end of June. Reiter is a logical choice to lead the search. He placed Socol at Barneys and has led searches for top executives at Neiman Marcus, Liz Claiborne, Gap Inc. and Yurman Designs, among others.
Reiter could not be reached at press time, nor could representatives of Barneys and Istithmar.
DON’T SWEAT IT: When it comes to corporate sponsorships in fashion, nothing should surprise us anymore. Remember the box of Carefree Perfect Fit pantiliners tucked into the Tracy Reese gift bag of fall 2004? Or how about the time, the season prior, swimwear designer Rosa Chá sent Naomi Campbell down the runway with an Ortho Evra birth-control patch prominently displayed on her back? Still, the invite for tonight’s Gen Art Styles 2008 show induced a few laughs — it pointedly declares Botox as the event’s main backer. Even the honors have been renamed — Botox Design Vision Awards for accessories, ready-to-wear, men’s wear. Could Gen Art, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, been feeling, well, old? Or maybe it’s the fact that, let’s face it, the fashion flock and Botox make for agreeable bedfellows.
It turns out the sponsorship has more to do with Botox’s use in combating hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, than maintaining a frown-free forehead. And there’s a fashion angle here, naturally. “Hyperhidrosis really does affect your wardrobe,” says Kara Saun. The “Project Runway” alum is national spokeswoman for “Project: Sweat Free,” a joint venture between Gen Art and Allergan Inc., producer of Botox. “It affects the colors you wear, the fabrics. No one really wants to talk about it because it’s embarrassing.”
Cue to tonight’s event, to be held at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. “The partnership is all about raising awareness of excessive underarm sweating, the prevalence among women and the impact on fashion,” a spokeswoman for Allergan Inc. noted in a phone interview with, presumably, a straight face. Pre-runway show, there will be a dermatologist on hand to answer questions, and a lucky few audience members might even get their names on the list for free consultations.
Those looking for a Botox gift certificate in the gift bags, however, should try not to frown. Instead, they will find umbrellas and paper fans, in keeping with the stay-dry theme. “So people can fan themselves when they get hot,” says Gen Art fashion director Lee Trimble. “And it’s sort of a fashion accessory. Karl Lagerfeld carried a fan for years.”
GUESS WHO: Rick Caruso’s new family-friendly outdoor mall, Americana at Brand, got a hefty dose of sex appeal Thursday night thanks to the opening of L.A.’s second Marciano boutique. Sandwiched between a movie theater and Juicy Couture, the 3,350-square-foot store boasts seductive touches like a chandelier-lit dressing room area, complete with a zebra print rug, and walls filled with photos of scantily clad models. As Joy Bryant, who hosted the event along with C Magazine, summed up, “It feels like it could be someone’s boudoir. It’s the right amount of cha cha!” Whitney Port of “The Hills” looked no further than Bryant to find her favorite piece: a sapphire-hued maxidress. “On her, it looks really good,” said Port, whose line, Eve & A, hits boutiques in August. Bryant hopes to one day join Port and the legions of celeb designers by creating a line of budget- and eco-friendly luggage and travel accessories. “I think it can be affordable, clean, edgy and well-made,” she said.
WILD WEST: Casio called on Kanye West to help celebrate the performance in celebration of Casio’s 25th anniversary of its G-Shock watch with a performance at Gustavino’s Wednesday. On hand to host the evening’s festivities, which began, oddly, with a one-hour press conference, were Spike Lee and graffiti artist Eric Haze, who designed G-Shock’s special anniversary logo. “It is evident to me that great products have the same kind of visionary behind it and my man here is one of those visionaries,” Lee said, acknowledging Kikuo Ibe, the “Father of G-Shock” who strived to invent an unbreakable watch after his own broke when he dropped it. “He was trying to figure out a problem and many people told him he was crazy. Every visionary has been told, ‘You’re crazy, don’t waste your time.’ And that’s why they’re visionaries because they don’t listen.”
FRINGE BENEFITS: “I was looking for sense of originality and innovation,” said Donatella Versace, who had arrived in London’s Covent Garden Thursday afternoon to select the finalists for Fashion Fringe, the annual competition that aims to discover and support young U.K.-based design talent. Versace is honorary chairwoman of the selection committee. The panel’s members also included Roland Mouret, Colin McDowell and Natalie Massenet, who selected four labels to go through to the next round of the competition — Go by a Secret Path by designer Eunjeong, LF Markey, Sarah Easom and William Tempest. All four labels will show their collections at London Fashion Week in September, when one winner will be awarded a $201,340 stipend and will receive public relations advice and business mentoring from the organization. “I think in the U.K. there is a sense of risk-taking in young designers,” said Versace. “Their eccentricity and fearlessness in trying new things is something to be celebrated and encouraged.”
NICOLE’S BRITISH NOD: Nicole Farhi rounded up a host of friends and family at her restaurant, Nicole’s on London’s Bond Street, on Wednesday night to celebrate being made an honorary Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or CBE. Farhi had received her award at the British government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport earlier that day.
Guests including Farhi’s husband, the playwright Sir David Hare, designer Betty Jackson and the director Richard Eyre all gathered to raise a glass of Champagne to the French designer. Farhi, wearing a black, pinstripe jacket and red and black print trousers of her own design, had the award — a small red and gold metal brooch — pinned to her lapel with pride. “I think it’s cute, why not wear it?” said Farhi.
Though despite being given a nod by the British honors system, Farhi admitted that she remains French at heart. “It’s too late to swap,” she said with a laugh.
LADIES’ NIGHT: Knowing that women can never get enough shoes, Roger Vivier creative director Inès de la Fressange is flying in from Paris to host a shopping night and cocktail party followed by a private dinner at Roger Vivier’s Madison Avenue store on Tuesday night. A percentage of sales from the evening will benefit The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Clown Care Program. Anne Grauso, Jamee Gregory and Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos are among the women scheduled to attend.