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LIBERTY’S MANOLOS: Manolo Blahnik is expanding his universe — in collaboration with Liberty. The London department store has commissioned Blahnik to create a “World of Manolo,” which will launch at Liberty in September with its own in-store boutique, which will stay open for three months. “He’s the footwear genius, but the real objective is to explore all the sides of that genius,” said Ed Burstell, buying director for Liberty, at a preview of the collaboration. So Blahnik will design a range of items — such as scarves, candles, shoehorns, Wellington boots and notebooks — using Liberty prints. Blahnik has trawled through Liberty’s print archives to select three 19th-century prints that will be used on the products he’s designed — “they’re so modern you’d die,” said Blahnik of the prints. Blahnik also has designed his own entirely new Liberty print made up of images of “the shoes of my life,” he said. Meanwhile, pieces from Blahnik’s fall footwear collection will be exclusive to Liberty for fall, marking the first time the designer has sold the collection outside his stores in the U.K., and eight of his footwear designs will be reworked in Liberty prints. Blahnik said the partnership with Liberty was the first collaboration to which he’d said yes — aside from a shoehorn he designed for Habitat a few years ago. Blahnik also will curate Liberty over the Christmas period later this year, during which he said he’d like the store to have “an old-fashioned, English” feel.
SHOWING SUPPORT: Actor Danny Glover has doubled his efforts to save the Hugo Boss suit factory near Cleveland, which the Metzingen, Germany-based company plans to shutter at the end of April. He toured the factory Tuesday and held a press conference in a bid to publicize the union’s fight to prevent the loss of the facility’s 300 jobs. “The Hugo Boss management needs to come to see these workers and see their commitment to their products,” Glover told WWD. “These jobs need to stay here.” Hugo Boss on Tuesday reiterated its plans to close the factory April 27 and said it may sweeten its $1.5 million severance package for the employees. Earlier this month, Glover led a boycott of Boss, asking his Hollywood colleagues not to wear the label to the Oscars. Glover, who calls Bruce Raynor, the Workers United president, a close friend, long has been a champion of labor issues. Glover said his parents, both workers for the postal union, raised him with a deep awareness for labor issues. Glover said he’ll continue to support the Hugo Boss factory workers until the issue is resolved.
BACK IN BAGS: Polo Ralph Lauren is bringing back Lauren by Ralph Lauren handbags for fall. The house, which once licensed the category to accessories maker Wathne, is going it alone this time, producing handbags for the better sportswear line in-house. The firm will host a press preview on April 1 for long lead magazine editors. Lauren by Ralph Lauren is sold in retailers such as Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s.
FOREVER AND ALWAYS?: Forever 21 is teaming with Los Angeles designer Brian Lichtenberg for a line of graphic T-shirts, the first designer collaboration for the fast-fashion chain. A Forever 21 spokesperson confirmed the collaboration was in the works and said an announcement would be made in the coming months. Lichtenberg’s geometric cutout jewelry designs, draped cotton tops and edgy stage costumes have made him a favorite of the music set, including performers like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Keri Hilson.