DAYS OF THE WEEK: Come mid-April, it will be practically Ralph Lauren week in Paris. The designer will be in the French capital to christen his largest store in the world in grand style — and take home a Legion of Honor, too. The new Polo Ralph Lauren flagship on Boulevard Saint-Germain — spread over six floors and spanning a restaurant dubbed Ralph’s and virtually every Lauren brand save children’s wear — will be feted with a cocktail party one night and a VIP dinner another. Details are yet to be finalized, but Lauren’s Paris week is expected to culminate with French President Nicolas Sarkozy decorating the American designer.
UNTANGLED WEBB: Venerable American fine jewelry firm David Webb has found a buyer, according to sources. The New York-based firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year. The 62-year-old house, a favorite jeweler of socialites such as Aerin Lauder, is famous for its nature-inspired collection with ruby, emerald and sapphire cabochons. Company executives could not be reached for confirmation at press time. The firm has a boutique in New York on Madison Avenue.
MCM THIS P.M.: Leather goods house MCM will host a party this evening at Bryant Park to toast its sponsorship of the central fountain in the tents this fashion week. A tableaux of mannequins, bedecked in MCM’s signature Cognac Visetos logo bags, have been ensconced in the fountain throughout the week — in party, business and travel scenes. Expected at the MCM party at the W Hotels Arrivals Lounge are Estelle, Keri Hilson, Coco Rocha and Julie Henderson. Germany-based MCM is owned by South Korea’s Sungjoo Group.
WEIR NOW: Johnny Weir’s Olympic bid kicked off Tuesday night in Vancouver, but the skater’s glittery career ambitions extend to the fashion industry. In an interview with Frank Deford on “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” Weir said he plans to go into the fashion business in a big way, launching his own multicategory collection and even opening stores. (He even escorted the NPR commentator to Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue store to give him a much-needed makeover.)
Last month, he set off a fashion firestorm with antifur activists, when he competed in a fox-trimmed outfit at the U.S. nationals. He since has retreated and revealed plans to wear fake fur at the Winter Games. If Weir is keeping up with the New York runway shows, as his costume designer, Stephanie Handler, suspects he is, he must know fake or real fur will be a key fall trend.
Asked if she thought he was tuning in to fashion week, she said: “I imagine he is. That would be like him giving up water,” she said. “And they have such reduced practice schedules now. They can’t just wander around for the other 18 hours of the day.”
Weir has attended his share of shows and even walked in one for Heatherette designer Richie Rich, Handler said. His Seventh Avenue ambitions are no surprise to Handler, who has designed costumes for him since he was 13. “He’s been wanting to design since he began to skate. He loves fashion and clothes and all that stuff. I’m sure he will wait until the Olympics are over and then he will get down to business,” she said. “At this point, he knows enough about the amount of work that goes into designing to do his own. He brings in sketches to me and I work with him to clarify things. He’s really into choosing everything all the way down to the last details.”
Even Deford was hip to Weir’s post-Olympic plans. “I had heard before the interview that Johnny wanted a career in fashion after his figure-skating career was over, so I wasn’t surprised by his interest and acumen with clothes and accessories,” Deford said via e-mail Tuesday. “What I liked was that he didn’t just try to dress me as a tall Johnny Weir, but he really made an effort to find my style and just extend it a little. When my wife saw the piece, she, too, agreed that he’d gotten me just right. Purple purse: optional.”
DRESS CODE: Gap may be underwriting the “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” spring exhibit at the Costume Institute, but don’t expect the legions of celebrities and socialites to go casual in iconic Gap garb for the gala to kick off the show. Gap designer Patrick Robinson, who is a co-chair of the evening alongside Oprah Winfrey and Anna Wintour, disclosed on Tuesday that Gap will be working with several CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund designers to create special gowns for the night, including Thakoon Panichgul, Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy and the most recent winner Sophie Theallet. “Gap is really celebrating American fashion, so it was important to embrace the stars of fashion today,” Robinson said at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday, where he was previewing details of the exhibit with Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton. “I need to still find somebody to dress me, though,” Robinson added.
The show, to be located in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall on the museum’s second floor, will be housed in a special, Nathan Crowley installation of seven circular rooms, each picking up a theme from “The Heiress” to “Gibson Girls,” “Flappers” and “Screen Sirens.” It culminates in a room with projections of American women, past and present, which could range from the Williams sisters, who embody American athleticism, to Grace Kelly and Gwyneth Paltrow, who represent the classical American beauty ideal.