ROYAL FLUSH: Marc Jacobs is known for his close rapport with artists — and keen cultural instincts. To wit: His collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton leather goods has been a bonanza for the French luxury giant. Now Jacobs is plotting his next act, WWD has learned. According to sources, Jacobs is teaming up with Richard Prince, one of his favorite artists, and will unveil the results at his Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week in October. Asked about the forthcoming collaboration, Vuitton had no comment.

BASSO BOWS OUT: Dennis Basso has decided to sit out the September shows due to what he described as “scheduling conflicts.” But don’t look for Basso on the beach Labor Day weekend. With a 2,000-square-foot store bowing at Atlantic City’s Pier at Caesars next month, a few personal appearances set for this fall and European trips down the road, the designer said it was best to pass on this round of fashion week. But he is already planning his February show and a blowout bash for the 25th anniversary of his business. The designer is also busy cheering on his partner, Michael Cominotto, whose MIC men’s wear label recently debuted at Bergdorf Goodman. Basso’s spring collection will be shown by Bismarck Phillips.

SCHUR SABBATICAL: Those who have closely studied the New York Fashion Week calendar may have noticed young label Michon Schur’s absence from the lineup. Designer Stephanie Schur, who is due to give birth to her second child in November, has been on bed rest at her Santa Monica, Calif., home, forcing her to nix the delivery of her fall collection and the spring season altogether. But the designer, who has had four seasons to date, is still able to work with clients on custom-made things, and she is already planning her return in February. “I have been sketching in my down time, and I am planning to be back next season,” she said. “But I am planning on doing a smaller presentation, something more intimate rather than a big runway show. I will have a two-month-old baby, and just after coming out of hibernation, I want to ease back into it.”

This story first appeared in the August 24, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

SPEAKING FRENCH: Olivier Theyskens of Nina Ricci can add one more plume to his cap: lecturer. The designer has been tapped to give a talk in New York on Dec. 7 at New York’s French Institute Alliance Française as part of a monthlong series of fashion-related events. Pamela Golbin, curator of 20th-century and contemporary fashion at Paris’ Museum of Fashion and Textiles, will chair a series of talks and quiz Theyskens and other designers. She’s also rounded up Hermès’ men’s wear designer, Véronique Nichanian, and shoe guru Bruno Frisoni of Roger Vivier to give talks at FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall on Nov. 9 and 30, respectively.

SLIM FAST: Nicolas Sarkozy may have won a spot on Vanity Fair’s 68th annual International Best-Dressed List, but he’s a tad more controversial when he doffs his shirt. Joining Russian President Vladimir Putin in this summer’s parade of topless heads of state, Sarkozy was captured paddling a canoe bare-chested during his U.S. vacation, and the photos were published earlier this month in Paris Match. But rival weekly L’Express has cried foul, saying the magazine, headed by Sarkozy’s buddy Arnaud Lagardère, used Photoshop to minimize the French president’s love handles. Perhaps he ate too many hotdogs on holiday in New Hampshire?

VARVATOS FITNESS TEST: Equinox Fitness has done so well with John Varvatos‘ Star USA label in its top health clubs that the nationwide chain is already lobbying the designer to develop a women’s version. The designer is said to have one in the works, according to retail buyer Karyn Riale. In addition, Equinox is in talks with Varvatos about developing a cobranded label, she said.

TEN SPOT: Veronique Branquinho, one of Antwerp, Belgium’s second-generation fashion stars, is getting ready to blow out the candles for her house’s 10th birthday. To mark the milestone, Branquinho will unveil a new project at her Paris show in October: She’s guest editor of the next issue of the Flanders Institute’s A Magazine, which has also invited the likes of Yohji Yamamoto and Martin Margiela. What’s more, Antwerp’s fashion museum Momu will host a retrospective Branquinho exhibition in February.

PAINTED LOVE: Hedi Slimane is racking up art projects almost as fast as bids at a Sotheby’s contemporary auction. In late November, the Almine Rech Gallery in Paris will host a new solo show by the former Dior Homme designer. What’s more, Rech has tapped Slimane to curate her stand at the upcoming Frieze Art Fair, Oct. 11 to 14.

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