FENDI’S ARTY PARTY: “Modern Primitives,” a collaborative design project between Fendi and the American architectural duo Ben Aranda and Chris Lasch, hit Fendi’s Rodeo Drive boutique on Tuesday, the second stop after Aspen for the traveling exhibition, which goes next to Costa Mesa, Calif., New York City, Houston and Las Vegas. Aranda/Lasch created modern, geometrical pieces in black and white, as well as architectural furniture with handmade leather and fur throws and patterns on several scarves and bags. Fendi combined modern technology and old-world craftsmanship by flying in a Roman craftsman to cut and stitch leather bags alongside an iPad app created by the architects that allows customers to design a piece to be made by the duo in their NYC studio.
NEXT STOP WASHINGTON D.C.: Hermès president and chief executive Robert Chavez is looking to drive sales by taking a team of craftsmen and women on an international tour, setting up shop this week in Chicago before visiting Washington D.C. March 25 to 30. Trips to Zurich, Brussels, Hong Kong, Singapore and other cities are planned but not as yet confirmed, Chavez said.
In Chicago, the “Festival of Crafts,” opening Friday, will feature 10 craftsmen, including glove, tie and shirt makers and taking up 6,000 square feet next to the luxury brand’s Oak Street store. More than 1,000 people turned out for the tour’s launch in Seattle last month when sales jumped across all categories. Chavez, who would not release exact sales figures, said he predicts the long-term impact on sales will be even more significant. “People were truly surprised and amazed to see how much work is by hand,” he said.
KEY QUESTION: While in Positano, Italy, Tyler Mitchell, who oversees the Wilkes Bashford specialty store for the Mitchell Family of Stores, became engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Stephanie Oshana. He popped the question at a cafe on the Amalfi Coast, over a bottle of Brunello. “The day was so perfect. I seized the moment,” said Tyler, after Wilkes Bashford himself spilled the news at a party in the San Francisco store to usher in the April 6 SFMOMA biennial contemporary art auction, a key fund-raiser for the museum.
The couple alighted in Positano after a stop at Kiton headquarters in Naples and before heading to Paris for a Charvet fashion shoot — and where Mitchell first thought he’d ask Oshana to marry. “She had never been to Paris,” said Mitchell, who packed a dazzling cushion-cut diamond engagement ring with a thin pavé diamond-covered band for his fiancée.
The wedding will likely be in a year, after the Wilkes Bashford a block off Union Square gets a makeover, which begins this summer. Plans call for expanding floor space at the six-story townhouse retailer by 30 percent to around 25,000 square feet.
SPADE’S ACE: Kate Spade threw a ladies lunch on Friday to toast Bryce Dallas Howard, the face of its spring 2011 campaign, at Chateau Marmont, a stone’s throw away from a billboard sporting the new ads. Guests Mandy Moore and Anna Kendrick joined creative director Deborah Lloyd decked out in bright colors to match the pink and white place settings. Howard, who appears next in “The Help” with Emma Stone, called her first fashion gig “incredibly flattering.” Recalling her fondness for the accessories, she said, “When I would ask for a Christmas gift every year it was always a Kate Spade purse or day planner. When my family heard about this everyone was e-mailing me because I have been obsessed for years.”
FORTUNY TELLER: Over the years, quite a few stylish women — Natalia Vodianova, Marisa Berenson and Gloria Vanderbilt among them — have taken a shining to Fortuny dresses. On Wednesday, they will get another chance to expand their Fortuny wardrobes, when 1stdibs.com, in partnership with Vintage Luxury, is offering a special sale of 31 pieces from the Spanish designer. The sale features mostly Delphos and Peplos silk gowns from 1920 to about 1945, as well as a silk gauze tunic from Tina Chow’s iconic personal wardrobe. Dealer and Vintage Luxury founder Mark Walsh has been collecting the designer’s work for three decades and put this particular collection together for the sale.
KIDS CORNER: Kate Betts had a few intimidating moments while visiting the Neiman Marcus flagship in Dallas on Tuesday to autograph her book, “Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style.” “There were a lot of young kids, very serious bloggers from SMU, and they were very organized with Flip cameras and wanted to do videos and interviews,” she said afterward. “It was incredibly impressive and terrifying. Those Flip videos kind of freaked me out.” But the visit was good for business — Betts said she signed “stacks” of presold books in advance of the event. Writing Obama’s fashion biography has influenced Bett’s own wardrobe. “One of the things I’ve really been inspired by is the way she wears such beautiful colors all the time. I’m a New Yorker so I tend to fall back on black and gray. And the flatter shoes are a very welcome change in my opinion.” In Dallas, Betts wore a periwinkle Michael Kors dress. Next stops: Neiman’s in San Francisco and Los Angeles.