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THE WRITE STUFF: If Nicolas Ghesquière ever considers a career change, speech writing might not be it. “It’s a tough job,” he confessed moments before PPR boss François-Henri Pinault decorated the Balenciaga designer as a Chevalier of Arts and Letters, the French government’s “most elitist” award of merit, Pinault noted. Maryvonne Pinault, Pierre Hardy, L’Wren Scott, Jonathan Newhouse and Carine Roitfeld were among those who joined oodles of staffers at Balenciaga’s Paris headquarters to toast a designer Pinault regaled as a champion athlete in his youth, in sports from cross-country skiing to swimming. Charlotte Gainsbourg stood out in a vivid green sack dress she had belted at the waist. It was Balenciaga, certainly, but what season? “Spring — or summer, I guess. I’m not sure,” she demurred. While awaiting the release of James Ivory’s “City of Your Final Destination,” in which she stars, Gainsbourg said she’s taking a break from movies, but not music: “I’m thinking about an album.”
FUZZY WUZZY: It’s a bear market out there — at least where Karl Lagerfeld is concerned. The famous German teddy bear maker Steiff plans to immortalize the indefatigable couturier in stuffed-animal form. The fuzzy Karl comes complete with dark glasses, a dark suit, high collar and logo belt buckle — nuclear-powered design prowess not included.
FLY BOY: French President Nicolas Sarkozy is known to enjoy lavish media attention — but he has his limits. He plans to sue Irish airline Ryanair for unauthorized use of his image in an ad published in two French dailies depicting him and Carla Bruni, with a balloon caption of Bruni saying, “With Ryanair, my whole family can come to my wedding.” The ad plays on rampant rumors Sarkozy and Bruni are to wed in the coming weeks.
BETSEY’S BIRTHDAY: Betsey Johnson is celebrating 30 years of fuchsia, lace and funky frillery with a look back during her fall show on Sunday. The kooky designer plans to kick off her 30th anniversary year with a finale of 15 looks from the past three decades. “It’s my favorite stuff, the core stuff,” said Johnson of the designs, most of them found with the help of vintage dealers since she had “no closet space” to archive. And she plans to continue the revelry with more events later in the year, since Aug. 10 (also her birthday and wedding anniversary), is the actual anniversary of her first collection, resort 1978. Of course, the retrospective segment won’t replace her signature end of show cartwheel. “It’s a good cross check on me,” said Johnson. “If I can do a cartwheel, I know I’m alive.”
STELLA’S SELFRIDGES FEST: Selfridges will be giving Stella McCartney a lot more floor space than usual next month. From Feb. 6 to Feb. 20, the Oxford Street store will host “The World of Stella,” showcasing the designer’s complete clothing and beauty lines — and product collaborations — in different locations. A pop-up shop filled with the Adidas by Stella McCartney clothing line — including the designer’s new women’s golf range — will open on the store’s ground floor. On the third floor, McCartney’s new lingerie line will launch for spring. Meanwhile, McCartney’s redesigned shop-in-shop in the Superbrands area, on the store’s second floor, will carry the designer’s mainline spring collection, while her jeans line — in collaboration with Notify — will be sold in the contemporary denim section.
McCartney’s brand blitz at Selfridges isn’t just about commerce, however. Caricature artists will be on hand to draw customers’ portraits throughout the two weeks, and a one-man band commissioned by McCartney will play. The designer will also install a vintage photo-booth on Selfridges’ second floor, in which customers can take a shot of themselves for 1 pound, or about $2, which will be donated to the Red Cross. McCartney will make a personal appearance during London Fashion Week on Feb. 13.