BY DESIGN: First Lady Michelle Obama will celebrate the 10th annual National Design Awards at the White House on July 24. Adding a new dimension, several of this year’s winners will participate in free, hour-long programs that will be staged in Washington for the general public. This year’s Fashion winner, Francisco Costa, may have a chat with Interior Design winners Calvin Tsao and his partner Zack McKown at The Corcoran Gallery of Art on materials and effects. Launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the annual National Design Awards are presented by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.
BRUNO TAKES L.A.: Thursday night’s “Bruno” premiere took place despite the passing of Michael Jackson a few hours before, but Universal Studios banned reporters from asking questions about Jackson on the red carpet, and also made a last-minute decision to cut a reference to The King of Pop from the movie. In it, Bruno tries to obtain Jackson’s phone number by inviting his sister LaToya Jackson to be a guest on his talk show. The red carpet, covered in B logos mimicking Chanel’s interlocking C’s, also temporarily covered Jackson’s star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame. “Bruno” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who arrived in a military tank brandishing a gold-plated Bazooka with “Chanel” printed on it, did the press line in character, remarking, “You cannot poke fun at the fashion world. It is a stereotype that we are only concerned about appearance and drugs and that is not true. We are also concerned about parties.”
BEST & WORST OF TIMES: Best & Co.’s high-end children’s boutique at 289 Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, Conn., abruptly shut its doors Saturday. The 4,800-square-foot flagship, still stocked with merchandise, has signs on the door saying the store has closed and gives the name of the bankruptcy attorney and case number. Neither Susie Hilfiger, creative director of Best & Co., company officials nor Ben Stanziale Jr., the bankruptcy attorney on the case, could be reached for comment Sunday, but sources said the firm filed for bankruptcy last week. FAO Schwarz, which was acquired by Toys ‘R’ Us, this year, purchased Best & Co. from Hilfiger in 2007, and at the time revealed major retail and wholesale expansion plans for the brand. Recent developments included designer partnerships with Shoshanna and Peter Som. Hilfiger bought the brand, which was founded in 1879, in 1997 and turned it into an emporium of high-end children’s apparel, accessories and furniture. Best & Co. also has a boutique on the top floor at Bergdorf Goodman, but it couldn’t be learned at press time the fate of that shop and Best & Co.’s fledgling wholesale business.
TIE ONE ON: Last Thursday, Harrods feted the completed overhaul of its new men’s department in Paris, and the London-based department store has plans for an even bigger bash back at home in December. “It will be celebrity packed,” said fashion and beauty director Marigay McKee, who welcomed clients and press to a cocktail at the Ritz. “I feel like I should be placed under a Christmas tree,” said Arjun Bhasin, GQ India’s dapper fashion director, alluding to his first outing decked out in a bow tie. “Nobody wears bow ties in India.” Bhasin said he holds Harrods close to his heart. “My father made an annual shopping trip to Harrods. It was the only place he ever shopped,” Bhasin said.
WHISTLES’ NEW WARES: Jane Shepherdson has taken her Whistles makeover to the next level, unveiling a capsule collection of cocktail dresses designed by Roksanda Ilincic for the British high street store. “I wanted to wait for the right retailer that could reproduce my pieces with a high level of attention to detail,” said Ilincic, who has never before done a collaboration and who signed a three-season contract with Whistles. Some dresses pop in jewel tones such as citrine, aquamarine, and fuchsia, while others are covered in signature Ilincic-appliquéd roses made of black PVC. The collection will hit selected stores, including concessions in Selfridges and Harrods, during London Fashion Week and prices will start from 175 pounds, or $290.
BACK IN THE SADDLE?: Esteban Cortazar, the designer of Emanuel Ungaro’s women’s wear who was expected to part ways with the Paris-based fashion house, seems to have patched things up with management — at least for the time being. He showed up at Ungaro’s men’s show to support Franck Boclet and exchanged greetings with Mounir Moufarrige, Ungaro’s chief executive officer. “For now I am here,” he said, adding that he’s currently working on a pre-collection. Moufarrige was coy when asked if Cortazar is back at Ungaro. “He’s here,” he said, pointing at the runway.
RED SHEETS: Luxury linens firm D. Porthault has entered into receivership. The company, owned by Bernard and Joan Carl, had racked up 2.5 million euros, or $3.7 million, of debt at the end of 2008, on sales of between 6 million to 8 million euros, or $8.8 million and $11.8 million. “The size of the company doesn’t fit the revenues,” said president Patrick Canivet. While Canivet said Porthault’s two French-based factories plus its stores, which include swanky Avenue Montaigne and Park Avenue locations, would continue to operate, the firm plans to make some of its 115 employees redundant. “My duty is to try to turn the company around,” Canivet said, adding that fall orders would be delivered, hopefully without delays.
PRINTED MATTER: Look out for a pop-up Hermès boutique this September at Liberty, the landmark London department store on Great Marlborough Street. Word has it the British retailer and the French luxury brand have also hatched some products in a collaboration that will meld Hermès motifs with Liberty’s famous prints.