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PAS DE DEUX: Naeem Khan had tears in his eyes last week at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas as he watched ballet dancers twirl down the runway wearing his sparkling spring dresses. “It was breathtaking to see it,” Khan said following the annual benefit luncheon for the Texas Ballet Theater. “I had chills because I had never seen my clothes presented like that.” Ballet patrons joined Khan back at Stanley Korshak to shop, handing over more than $100,000 in total sales.
The designer is making a “big push” in Dallas because he feels it can rise to the level of Houston — his single biggest market, he noted. Bestsellers included a $6,990 silk chiffon caftan studded with oxidized sterling paillettes and a silver glass bugle beaded cocktail dress for $2,990. Khan said that this year’s volume is up nearly 30 percent over 2009, and 2011 orders represent the best spring season in four years. “I feel there is a spark in the economy where people are feeling good about going out and dressing,” he said. “We did 25 [trunk] shows [for spring], and we’re seeing it across the country.” Khan is currently negotiating licenses for designer handbags, shoes, scarves, cosmetics and fragrance. He expects licensed products to debut at the end of next year for spring 2012.
EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: The late Lee Alexander McQueen will be posthumously honored with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design at the British Fashion Council’s British Fashion Awards today. The BFC said the award “celebrates the achievement of a designer whose work has had an exceptional impact on global fashion.” The awards ceremony at London’s Savoy Theatre is to open with a film by Nick Knight, which will showcase McQueen’s “most iconic pieces” with a soundtrack by Björk. Knight said of the film: “My desire was to speak in some way about the dark and light contained within Lee, and within us all.”
THE PRODUCER: Many in the fashion world know Maria Cuomo Cole as the tireless activist and advocate for the homeless and victims of domestic violence; the daughter of former New York governor Mario Cuomo, and wife of Kenneth Cole. Cuomo Cole, however, can now add ‘bona fide producer’ to her already-impressive repertoire. Her short documentary “Living for 32” was just selected for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival’s Short Film Program.
Directed by Kevin Breslin, it portraits Colin Goddard, who survived the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre with four gunshot wounds, overcame his injuries and trauma to now become an activist in his own right.
SPEAKING OF DANCE: The stakes for creative look books just got raised. Korean designer Kuho Jung of Hexa by Kuho sent out his spring 2011 look book, accompanied by a Flip Video camcorder, to 40 editors. In addition to a recording of his September show at the Park Avenue Armory, the device includes a film collaboration between Jung and artist Olaf Breuning, which features ballet dancers in silhouette — at times equipped with forearm crutches — and a model in Jung’s clothes. “I thought his collection was very radical — it was based on prosthesis and fake body parts,” said Breuning. “I chose ballet because it’s a very artificial dance, very constructed by humans.”
Breuning, who collaborated with Cynthia Rowley for October’s “Move!” exhibit at MoMA PS1, has more fashion projects in the pipeline. Next March, he’ll do the windows for Hermès in Tokyo.
COWLES’ TREASURES: A clutch of jewels that belonged to the late editor and international socialite Fleur Cowles sold for nearly $195,000 pounds at Christie’s during a sale of royal, aristocratic and historic jewels that took place last Wednesday. The top lots far outstripped estimates, with Cowles’ trademark 94.98 carat rough emerald ring fetching $12,642, following an estimate of $760 to $1,100. A gold and old-cut diamond bangle that Cowles designed herself and a Seventies Cartier silver, gilt and diamond vanity case fetched a similar price. The top estimate of the former piece was $7,500, while the latter was estimated at $6,000.
“These jewels attracted widespread interest from around the world,” Keith Penton, head of jewels, Christie’s London told WWD. “Many people who came to the pre-sale view remembered and/or had met Fleur. Private clients were inspired both by the pictures of Fleur and her remarkable life story.”
The pieces were sold by Cowles’ widower Thomas Montague Meyer, and were part of a larger, twice-yearly event known as Jewels: The London Sale, which also featured ancestral pieces from the Portland Collection.
LEPORE GETS HONOR: Nanette Lepore, who has been a vocal advocate for preserving local manufacturing in New York’s Garment District, will be among the honorees tonight at the Center for an Urban Future’s 2010 Support the Future Gala. She will be honored along with public relations honcho Richard Edelman and former Commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal Deborah VanAmerongen (now a strategic policy adviser) at the Angel Orensanz Foundation Inc. The center’s mission is to promote economic diversity; identify emerging growth sectors; advocate for workforce development policy, and target problems facing low-income and working-class neighborhoods in all five boroughs.