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RUSSIAN SALE: Versace’s lakeside villa in Italy has been sold to a Russian multimillionaire. According to sources, restaurant entrepreneur Arkady Novikov paid around 35 million euros, or $55 million, for Villa Le Fontanelle in Moltrasio on Lake Como. Australia’s Sunland Group Ltd., Versace’s partner in the Palazzo Versace Hotel project, is believed to have brokered the deal. A Versace spokeswoman declined to comment, saying it was company policy not to speculate on matters unrelated to the business. The 18th-century mansion was a Versace family asset. Sunland could not be reached for comment. A favorite haunt of artists, writers and aristocrats for centuries, Como has soared in popularity since George Clooney bought his 18th-century villa down the shoreline in Laglio in 2002.
FASHION RENOVATION: Paris designer boutique Maria Luisa, owned by French style maven Maria Luisa Poumaillou, is ditching its spot on the Rue Cambon after 20 years. Poumaillou wants to regroup women’s fashions and accessories, which had been spread over two shops, under one roof. Poumaillou hopes to open the larger store, just around the corner on the Rue Rouget de l’Isle, by mid-June. The men’s store will remain on the Rue du Mont Thabor in a separate location.
FLOWER POWER: Note to those who get handed a rose from a stranger at Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal next week — don’t say “no.” The rose is part of a new initiative by the “A Diamond is Forever” campaign, with each of the 1,000 roses handed out daily from next Wednesday to Friday tagged with a number that could land the recipient a $5,000 diamond three-stone necklace once they log onto Adiamondisforever.com. As part of the campaign, Antony Todd will create a floral installation spelling out the “A Diamond is Forever” logo in red roses, which will be kicked off with a luncheon inside Grand Central next Tuesday. The likes of Claire Danes, Diane Kruger, Natasha Richardson, Evan Rachel Wood, Helena Christensen and Coco Rocha are expected to attend the luncheon.
ARMOR ALL: Colette’s traffic-stopping windows in Paris are not — we repeat not — the latest collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Rather the two armorlike suits on display, made from spliced-up genuine Murakami bags, are the work of wacky Paris design collective Andrea Crews in collaboration with the Tokyo-based French artist Item Idem and the set designer A. Bertin & Fils Ltée. “It’s about reappropriating the empire,” said Maroussia Rebecq, the creative director of Andrea Crews. Commenting on fashion’s arbitrary approach to pricing, one suit retails for around $11,000, while the other is half-price, she said.
This story first appeared in the April 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
CROSSING THE POND: Last February, Daniel Day-Lewis stepped onto the red carpet at the Academy Awards in a suit from Paul Smith Bespoke, the tailor-made service exclusive to the designer’s Westbourne House shop on London’s Westbourne Grove. Those who liked what they saw can now get their chance to have a tailor-made Paul Smith suit Stateside. From May 5-8, the Bespoke service will be available at the Paul Paul Smith store on Greene Street in SoHo. During that period, the bespoke manager, as well as the tailor of the Westbourne House store, will be flown in to do first fittings on men and women. They will return in September for the second fitting, and suits, which will start at about $5,000, are expected to be ready two weeks after that.