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MICHELLE’S CHOICES: In her first few weeks in the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama has remained true to her fashion philosophy of embracing a diverse crop of American designers, with a particular penchant for emerging talent. On Sunday, she once again turned to Jason Wu for a violet raw silk sheath dress with embroidered knots as she welcomed students from the L’Academy de Cuisine to the White House kitchen. Later that evening, at the Governors’ Dinner, Obama donned a sequined gown by Chicago native Peter Soronen. And at her husband’s first address to Congress on Tuesday night, she turned to another one of her designer favorites, wearing a sleeveless plum silk dress by Narciso Rodriguez. The First Lady also introduced another name to her stable of fashion designers since moving to Washington: She rocks a Guipure lace kimono dress by Tracy Reese on the cover of People magazine, which hits newsstands this Friday.
SCARLETT’S TURN: Sources say Scarlett Johansson will attend the Dolce & Gabbana show Monday. The designers tapped the actress to appear in the advertising campaign to launch their first makeup line. Johansson is also expected at the opening that evening of the “Extreme Beauty in Vogue” exhibition. The show, which will display some of the magazine’s best images by photographers ranging from Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz to Irving Penn, is sponsored by Dolce & Gabbana.
ART SCENE: Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s eldest daughter is branching out into art. Barbara Berlusconi, 24, will launch a new contemporary art gallery in Milan, with Martina Mondadori, the fourth generation of Italy’s Mondadori publishing dynasty. Dubbed Cardi Black Box, the gallery on Corso di Porta Nuova will bow with an exhibition by Iranian-German artist Shirana Shahbazi, which is slated to run through April 4. Further spaces will open in London in the second half of 2009 and New York in 2010.
VICTORIA STATION: There’s hardly a better salesperson for the Victoria Beckham dress collection than Victoria Beckham herself. Just ask executives at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. On Tuesday, Beckham stopped by the store to show the spring line to some 50 Neiman’s associates. It was followed by a private workshop with 20 of the store’s top customers. An hour later, 30 pieces from the collection, which retails from $1,250 to $3,600, had been snapped up.
Neiman’s wasn’t the only place feeling some Posh love on Tuesday, though. Net-a-porter.com simultaneously launched the spring collection that morning, and while Beckham did not make a live cyber-appearance, the site’s assortment sold out by the end of the day.
PRECIOUS TIME: One of the world’s great collections of Rolex watches will be sold off in Milan on March 22 by Geneva-based auction house Patrizzi & Co. Amassed since 1984 by Italian advertising executive Davide Blei, the sale will encompass 114 Rolex timepieces, including many rare styles in mint condition. Among the tempting options, buyers will be able to bid on a 1951 pink gold Stelline chronometer (estimate: $190,000 to $225,000), a 1953 stainless steel Oyster Perpetual with moon phases ($190,000 to $225,000) and a 1970 Paul Newman Cosmograph Daytona (a relative bargain at $50,000 to $75,000). Patrizzi will preview the sale at its New York offices on March 5 with a Champagne brunch — and U.S. buyers can bid online during the actual auction.
FREUDIAN SIP: British painter Lucian Freud has been chosen by Château Mouton Rothschild to illustrate the label of its 2006 vintage. Freud conceived an exotic transposition of the pleasure of drinking: The vine is transformed into a palm tree and the wine lover into a zebra. “Well done,” was Mouton owner Philippine de Rothschild’s first comment when she first saw the label. “He is one of the world’s greatest artists. But of course, you know that,” the Baroness said at the opening of the “Mouton Rothschild: Paintings for the Labels” exhibit at the Wolfsonian-Florida International University last week.
IN DESIGNERS EARS: Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Marc Ecko and Alice Temperley don’t just create runway looks — they also create music playlists, which fans can bid on through Tonic’s iPod Auction Series to benefit Music Rising (tonic.com/musicrising), with all proceeds going to rescue the musical culture of the Central Gulf. Those four designers are currently being featured on the e-commerce site that focuses on “effortless activism and social good,” which between now and August will add new celebrities each week — totaling more than 70, including Bill Clinton, Madonna, Scarlett Johansson and Gisele Bündchen. Each celebrity was given a new iPod that they autographed and Tonic preloaded with a playlist of 10 to 20 of their favorite songs. Jacobs chose Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears and Jay-Z, while Karan opted for Barbra Streisand, Annie Lennox and Melissa Etheridge.