DESIGNER DIY: It seems the only way to have something no one else has is to make it yourself. So Roger Vivier brand ambassador Ines de la Fressange, the former model and Karl Lagerfeld muse. De la Fressange has worked alongside the brand’s creative director, Bruno Frisoni, to create the Cut Up Bag. Customers can select either a black, purple or gray base color for the bag. Then they can add cutout letters or numbers in myriad colors and fonts to emblazon the bag with a name or message. “Real luxury is a unique item that is yours and yours only, that cannot be duplicated or copied,” said de la Fressange. “You pick the color of the bag, then letters, font and symbols. It’s great for men who have no idea what gift to give — and in a world where everyone has the same thing, it’s good to know you’re the only one who has it.” The Cut Up Bag is available by special order at Roger Vivier boutiques and retails for $1,875.
BROWNE TO BLACK: As the second act to Samsonite Black Label’s collaboration with Alexander McQueen, the luggage maker is partnering next with Thom Browne, according to the American men’s wear designer. “They approached us, and I said we would love to do it, specifically because I wanted those Samsonite briefcases from the Sixties for my presentation,” he said, referring to the collection he will show next month as the featured designer at the Pitti Uomo fair in Florence. “What we came up with is true to what they did in the Sixties,” Browne said of the hard-sided slimline attachés that will be featured in the show. “Right now it’s a one-off, but I could see doing different versions of this. I like their hard travel cases, too.” After Pitti, Browne will hop to Milan, where the presentation of Gamme Bleu, his collaboration with Moncler, will be a runway show, he confirmed. Next, he’ll head to Paris, where Colette will dedicate a shop-in-shop to his tennis-themed spring collection for two weeks.
EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES: Ruffian designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais usually make elegant clothing for a host of uptown ladies, but on Tuesday night, there were a lot of naked bodies in their Garment District studio. The duo was celebrating the opening of its newly expanded space and the first in a series of Ruffian Gallery events with a fete for painter Nick Weber.
The nudity was thanks to Weber: He is known for images of hard-core pornography depicted with classical painterly techniques. Guests, including “Saturday Night Live” cast members Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis and alum Rachel Dratch, calmly sipped Kirs while taking in canvases showing ménage à trois and more staid female nudes (one of the latter shows Jonathan Safran Foer’s wife, writer Nicole Krauss). Weber, a Stanford grad who also has patrons for his more traditional portraits, explained that he gets his images from online porn sites — which has led to some odd situations. “I used to have it all on one credit card,” he said. “But then I got worried it might get stolen. So I called the credit card company and asked to cancel the card. The man got very flustered and started saying, ‘But sir, you have some subscriptions on here you might not want to cancel.’ He had to read each one to me over the phone. I said ‘Yeah, cancel it all.’ I think it was more embarrassing for him than for me.”
“Late Night”-bound Jimmy Fallon divined on-air potential from the evening. “We should do your fashion show on my show,” said Fallon to the design duo. “That would be hilarious.”
HARD ROAD: With companies everywhere slashing their budgets and laying people off, it’s no surprise that designers are canceling their holiday parties. The latest addition to the not-this-year list is the annual Donna Karan Christmas party at her late husband Stephan Weiss’ West Village studio, though the New Age mogul did open the doors Monday night for their other big seasonal event: a dinner for the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, which is headed by her friend (and high school classmate) Ross Bleckner.
As guests such as Bernadette Peters and André Balazs perused the racks of the Urban Zen store next door, Karan explained that, with government agencies slashing budgets, philanthropy is becoming more important to her than ever. “Nobody else is going to do these things,” she said.
Martha Nelson, who serves on the board and helps sponsor the event through Time Inc.’s People group, gave a friendly peck to Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa. “I just keep telling people we’re all still in business.” Still, she acknowledged that lining up corporate support for charity events is difficult in this more restrained era. “It doesn’t get any easier,” said Nelson.
THINKING WOMAN: Besides being prime romantic gifts from a man to a woman, jewelry and lingerie have had little in common — until now. Meredith Kahn, who has a five-year-old fine jewelry brand named Made Her Think, has partnered with intimates retailer Kiki de Montparnasse to create a capsule jewelry line. The collection includes a double band chain ring, a similar bracelet and a pyramid totem pendant necklace. Kahn’s jewelry starts at $495 for the ring in silver and climbs to $18,000 for the pendant in pavé diamonds. “I’m such a crazy, die-hard romantic. I design the pieces as though someone’s going to fall in love with that and their lover will buy it for them,” said Kahn, who got her start in the fashion industry designing denim at Old Navy. The collaboration will be celebrated tonight with a party hosted by Byrdie Bell at de Montparnasse’s Greene Street store in SoHo.
SOUP’S ON: Nicole Miller was busy Wednesday putting the finishing touches on three red dresses — one of which will be worn by Jane Krakowski of “30 Rock” on the red carpet to celebrate American Heart Month. Campbell Soup Co. recruited the designer to whip up a few creations inspired by the brand. Her personal favorite is a one-shoulder, red, white and blue dress in an Andy Warhol-inspired soup can print. But Web users will have the final say by voting for their favorite look, with each triggering a $1 donation to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.
“I love Andy Warhol and what he did with Campbell’s soup cans. I think that whole thing is so iconic and such a part of American heritage,” Miller said.
Her initial effort borrowed from printed scarves and men’s neckties she designed for the soup label in the early Nineties. “I actually found the scarf and thought, I’m going to take the easy way out and turn the scarf into a dress. Then they said they didn’t want to use that print, and I was like, oh, rats,” she said. But her perseverance paid off — the three dresses will be reinterpreted for her next collection.