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HULANICKI’S NEW GIG: Barbara Hulanicki took to Miller’s Residence, an antique-filled hotel in London’s Notting Hill, to celebrate the launch of her new collection for Topshop on Tuesday night. The collection — which Hulanicki said was designed “not to look like Biba” — is made up of floaty shapes and cheeky prints. Pieces in the collection — which is themed around a good girl/bad girl idea — include a coral animal print silk minidress with pointy shoulder pads, an off the shoulder skintight mauve jersey dress and peach bikinis printed with Hulanicki’s illustrations. “I can’t wait to see how it sells,” said Hulanicki. “To me that’s the exciting thing, it’s just seeing that thing walk out.” Judging by the reaction of guests at the launch party, there may well be a scrum for the pieces when they hit Topshop stores — including the New York flagship — on April 28. Jo Wood bought wide-leg jersey trousers and T-shirts from the collection, while Christopher Kane said his sister Tammy “has picked out lots of pieces for the beach,” ahead of the siblings’ planned vacation to Tulum, Mexico, in May. Prices for the line range from $38 for a cotton hat through to $250 for a suede jacket. Hulanicki, who in recent years has been working in interior design, said she’s working on a second collection for Topshop to launch in the fall.
This story first appeared in the April 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
PARTY ANIMALS IN DC: Ever since Obama adviser David Axelrod started hosting pizza party strategy sessions, scoping out quality pies has become the new hobby among discerning Democrats. “Tom, I found a new pizza place for you,” said composer Marvin Hamlisch to Tom Brokaw at the Kuwait America Foundation Humanitarian Awards on Wednesday night. “Your favorite is Tiramisu, right? Well, you’ve got to try La Houppa, around the corner from Barneys. They don’t deliver. But it’s great.’’
The cuisine at the Kuwaiti embassy that night was decidedly more high brow, and the evening raised $1.8 million for conservation projects in Brazil and Indonesia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Leonardo DiCaprio were honored for their environmental awareness efforts.
Brokaw remembered covering the first Earth Day in 1970. “It was funky,” he said. “It’s a macro problem now. You have to do more than go out and hug a tree.’’
Hostess Rima Al-Sabah won raves not only for the gala but also for putting together an afternoon seminar on climate change moderated by Bob Woodward and Sen. John Kerry at the home of Brazilian Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota. That night, she was sure to dress the part in a chiffon tiger print Dior caftan. “Whoopi Goldberg wore this dress to the Academy Awards,’’ she said. “When I saw it on television, I knew it was the perfect dress to celebrate the importance of preserving endangered species.’’
WEDDED BLISS: Trovata founder John Whitledge is about to see his two-year-old lawsuit against Forever 21 come to trial May 7, but he was focused on more convivial legal news this past weekend. The 28-year-old designer married his longtime girlfriend, Manuela Vazquez, in a ceremony in Buenos Aires on Saturday. The newlyweds met while attending Claremont McKenna College and have dated for 10 years. Vazquez, a medical doctor of Argentine heritage on her father’s side, wore a lacey Monique Lhuillier dress for the nuptials. Among those on hand were Barneys New York vice president Wanda Colon, Tom’s Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie and his girlfriend, actress Maggie Grace (of ABC’s “Lost” and the recent film “Taken”) and fashion consultant Kate Schelter. The Roman Catholic evening ceremony was followed by a reception at the grand Palacio Sans Souci that, in true Argentine style, lasted until a 6 a.m. breakfast the following morning.
RALPH’S ROBERTSON MOMENT: Ralph Lauren reached out to an old friend, Jamie Tisch, to help pull together a book party for Pamela Fiori’s new book, “Stolen Moments: The Photographs of Robby Jaques,” Tuesday night at its Robertson Boulevard store. Nancy and Barbara Davis, Bob Evans, Betsy Bloomingdale and Michelle Hicks also turned out for the event. “My first job in Los Angeles was at the Ralph Lauren Rodeo Drive store,” said Tisch, who asked friends Kelly Lynch and Angie Harmon to cohost the soiree. Though her retail days are behind her, Tisch is still a big booster of the brand. When one of her earrings fell out and broke in half, she shrugged, “Oh well, there was a pair of earrings in the other room that I was eyeing earlier, so now I’ll have to buy them.”
GREEN TEASE: NBC correspondent Maria Menounos could be the first talking head to moonlight as a designer. The “Today” show and “Access Hollywood” reporter hosted a party for the eco-friendly line LIV GRN at Kitson on Tuesday night, where she said she’s learning the ropes before striking out on her own. Menounos and actress Nia Vardalos sipped detox iced tea through biodegradable straws while reflecting on the new line. “It was kind of a no-brainer to get involved,” Menounos said. “Plus, unlike a lot of other eco-friendly lines, it doesn’t give you rashes.” Founders Sydney Holland and Larry Frazin are set to expand the collection of organic cotton T-shirts, tank tops, sweatpants and shorts ranging from $42 to $106 retail next season with an edgier collection tentatively named 730.
PARIS, TEXAS: The lowest fare to America for Parisians is available at the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a children’s park just 15 minutes from the Eiffel Tower. For 2.70 euros, or about $3.50, visitors can take in an “Americans in Paris” event organized by the park with the support of the American Embassy. Dotted with icons like the Statue of Liberty, the park allows visitors to try a few dunks on the basketball court, learn the basics of baseball, listen to country music, watch cheerleaders shake their pom-poms and sample specialties like cheesecake or hotdogs. And no one leaves the park without a photograph of a yellow cab, a State Patrol car or a Texaco gas station. “Americans in Paris,” which attracted 50,000 visitors its first three days, runs until May 10.
A LOTTA PRADA: Prada eyewear is taking over Midtown Manhattan. The Italian luxury house is teaming up with Sunglass Hut to create its first-ever Prada Eyewear Concept Store, opening Tuesday at the Hut’s Rockefeller Center location. The entire store will carry Prada exclusively, including new styles designed just for the occasion. The store runs through May 5 and will feature special displays, windows and Prada flooring.
GOOD AS GREEN: Just in time for Earth Day, hessnatur, the Germany-based organic apparel label, teamed up with the 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus to launch a limited edition T-shirt designed by creative director Miguel Adrover, on Wednesday. A big believer in the one-two punch of microfinancing and education to empower impoverished people, Yunus is the founder of the Grameen Foundation, which will reap some proceeds from sales of the $20 T-shirt.
MAKING HIS DAY: Clint Eastwood took a break from filming “The Human Factor,” a film about the ruby trade set in South Africa, to help christen the new Original Penguin store in Johannesburg’s Nelson Mandela Square. According to the company, the actor-cum-director has been a fan of the Penguin since his “Dirty Harry” days.