BLONDE AMBITION: As if the New York party schedule weren’t packed enough next week, Donatella Versace is jetting into town to bring a little of la dolce vita to fashion week. The blonde designer is here to work, however. On Wednesday, she’ll host an invitation-only shopping night at her Fifth Avenue store for American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders. (The hands-on designer is picking the models herself for the event). The next day, she’ll be back at the boutique to do her first launch effort for a new accessory — the house’s Hit bag. Hopefully she’ll teach a thing or two to the 30 young socials who have been invited for Champagne and lunch.
But Versace is saving a little time to play before heading home: she’s planning to stop by for dinner at Amy Sacco’s Bette, check in at the Esquire House to survey the progress of the Versace room and fete a few fellow designers at their parties.
CFDA WEIGHS IN: Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb haven’t forgotten the weight debate regarding ultrathin models. Last week, the pair sent a letter to designers highlighting the need “to promote health as beauty when working with models.” As a gentle reminder, members received the recommendations developed by the CFDA’s Health Initiative earlier this year. Von Furstenberg said Thursday, “I wanted to remind everybody of what we had decided last season. We just wanted to say everything is not fluff.”
The letter was a follow-up to the panel discussion held with Natalia Vodianova in February. “We thought it was the appropriate thing to do. Actually, it was Steve’s idea,” said von Furstenberg.
“For this season, we will not focus on press but we do remain committed to the idea that health is beauty,” the letter reads, “…the biggest impact was quieter. Many agents, casting directors and designers took this seriously by encouraging healthy behavior and connecting support directly to the girls they work with.”
Kolb said Thursday, “Our intention is to be low-key, industry-focused and one-on-one. With the shows just around the corner, we thought this was the responsible thing to do.”
SWEET CHARITY: Some designers will be showing off their more generous sides next week. Zang Toi’s show Wednesday will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation, with general admission going for $300 and VIPs paying $1,000 a pop. Attendees will get an earful from Patti LaBelle, who is slated to perform. Earlier that day, Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez and his wife Cynthia will host a fashion show luncheon featuring the work of Venezuelan designer Nicolas Felizola. The event at Daniel will benefit the Arod Family Foundation. Attendees at Ports 1961’s Sept. 7 show will walk away with a sarong designed by creative director Tia Cibani. The item will be sold through the company’s Web site and Canadian retailers and sales will benefit the nonprofit Keep a Child Alive.
Meanwhile, Zac Posen is going back to school. The designer is honoring his favorite teacher at St. Ann’s School for the Arts in Brooklyn Heights with a limited edition tote bag. He created the tote for DHL, which is donating all proceeds from the sale of each bag to TeachersCount, a national nonprofit organization that supports the teaching profession. The Italian leather tote comes in DHL’s signature red and yellow colors and was produced in Tuscany, where Posen’s handbags are made. The tote bag’s $400 price includes complimentary ground delivery by DHL.
UNDER THE RADAR: With New York Fashion Week kicking off Wednesday, many designers are expected to work through Labor Day weekend with little or no relief. Isaac Mizrahi, however, is unlikely to be among them. After staging his runway comeback in February, Mizrahi has opted to produce a look book rather than a runway extravaganza for his spring collection. The look book is scheduled to arrived on editors’ desks Thursday, and that same morning they can also click on isaacmizrahiny.com to watch a video of the collection and the look book shoot with Mizrahi sound bites. “My company and I felt this book and video would cater best to our couture client…and we’re really excited about it,” Mizrahi said. “One of my goals with couture is to present clothes that I feel are luxurious and slightly under-the-radar.” But those who still want to see the actual garments need not fret: Mizrahi is making appointments to view the collection at his studio after Thursday.
KNOCK OUT: Cynthia Rowley was just hoping for a little downtime last weekend. The designer was spending her pre-fashion week free time at her home in Montauk on New York’s Long Island and set out on Sunday to do a little wakeboarding with hotelier Sean MacPherson. Before she knew it, she was in a dentist’s chair having her three front teeth replaced after MacPherson accidentally knocked them out. “It was a total accident and not his fault, but I think he might be just a little jealous that I get more air than him,” Rowley said.
VEERING LEFT: Paris’ Left Bank is about to welcome a major Costes restaurant, and it’s bound to be a magnet for fashion folk. The 200-seat eatery is already under construction on Place Saint Germain des Près and slated to open early next year with a Christian Liaigre interior and live jazz and blues in the evening. Still unnamed, the restaurant will be operated by Jean-Louis Costes, and Alex Denis, the affable, strapping front man of one of the Right Bank’s favorite fashion canteens, L’Avenue, which last Friday had Yves Saint Laurent designer Stefano Pilati lunching within earshot of the likes of Christian Dior honcho Sidney Toledano and luxury consultant Concetta Lanciaux.