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RED-CARPET ROYALTY: When Lorraine Schwartz hosts a party, prepare for a late start, bottle service and celebrities — lots of celebrities. Such was the case on Saturday night when Schwartz hosted a fete to celebrate H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S., along with co-host Pharrell Williams and Denise Rich. After a private dinner earlier in the evening, the likes of Patti LaBelle, Ashanti, Rachel McAdams, Josh Lucas and Beyoncé Knowles swarmed in at around midnight and danced to DJ Cassidy’s tunes. And while the party was theoretically all about Otaiba — Schwartz is often commissioned to create pieces for his country’s royal family — once Knowles started shimmying and glittering in Schwartz’s jewels and a clinging Hervé Léger gown, all eyes were on her. “She’s my muse,” said Schwartz of Beyoncé, whom she outfitted in jewels most recently for the Golden Globes and Inauguration night. “She’s the best canvas an artist can have.”
BARBIE’S BIG DAY: Barbie will surely have a stocked closet for her 50th birthday. Mattel is celebrating the legendary doll’s birthday this year by commissioning 50 designers to showcase adult-size creations inspired by her. The looks — by such designers as Alexander Wang, Kimora Lee Simmons, Tory Burch, Calvin Klein, Bob Mackie, Vera Wang, Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg — will be unveiled in a runway presentation at the tents in Bryant Park on, fittingly enough, Valentine’s Day. Will Ken be there?
STELLA’S MIDDLE EASTERN MOVES: Stella McCartney is making inroads in the Middle East, and will have six stores in the region by the middle of this year. This week, the designer will open her first store in Dubai, which follows the recent opening of units in Bahrain and Kuwait. A location in Qatar will follow later this month, while Jeddah and Riyadh are due to open this spring. The Dubai store is in the Dubai Mall, which opened in December. It is the first of three freestanding stores under Stella McCartney Limited’s franchise with Al Tayer, along with the upcoming stores at Jeddah’s Stars Avenue Mall and Riyadh’s Centria Mall. The designer’s first freestanding store in the Middle East opened in 2008 at Bahrain’s Moda Mall, under a franchise agreement with Almana. The Kuwait unit is a franchise agreement with Al Ostoura International Company.
HAVING A BALL: Takashi Murakami’s Spanish fans will be able to get their mitts on a limited edition handmade “Flowerball” tapestry by the artist, commissioned by Louis Vuitton for its Bilbao store. Available in 20 signed and numbered editions, the work will go on sale during the Murakami retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, running Feb. 17 to May 31, and will also star as a new addition to the show, which started out in L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art in October 2007, before traveling to New York’s Brooklyn Museum and Frankfurt’s MMK Modern Art Museum.
SHOP TALK: Joining the likes of Lanvin, Balenciaga and Christian Louboutin, Goyard, the French brand known for its distinctive chevron-splashed leather goods, is due to set up shop on London’s fashionable Mount Street this summer, according to a house spokeswoman, who confirmed the brand will be based in a Victorian building situated at number 116. Goyard already owns two stores in Paris and one store in San Francisco.
BOND STREET BOOST: Speaking of London retail, some of the big jewelers on Bond Street have begun hiking their prices in order to compensate for the recent — and rapid — deterioration of the pound against the euro. The pound has fallen nearly 20 percent against the euro over the past year, and the jewelers are fighting battles on two fronts: Many of them are taking a hit on margins because they buy their merchandise in euros and sell in pounds. Also, with the pound falling, they risk becoming luxury discounters for customers from the Eurozone shopping in London.
Arnaud Bamberger, managing director, Cartier UK and Ireland, said Cartier has raised its prices twice over the past few months. “We don’t like to increase our prices, but globally our clients need to be able to fly between the continents and not see too much of a disparity, and obviously local taxes have an impact on the end price too,” he told WWD. “We review our prices quarterly, and the weakening of the pound in the last quarter led to a 15 percent increase. With the pound continuing to devalue, we had to increase our prices again in the last few weeks by another 15 percent. However, the prices are still a little lower than mainland Europe.”
AQUASCUTUM TAKES TO THE SCREEN: Aquascutum, the British luxury label that once dressed film stars such as Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant, is going back to its silver screen roots. For the second year, Aquascutum is the official men’s stylist for the Orange British Academy Film Awards, which take place Sunday night. The label will dress nominees including Dev Patel, the star of “Slumdog Millionaire”; actor, writer and director Noel Clarke, and the label’s guests at the awards, actors Jamie Dornan and Nicholas Hoult. The partnership with the Baftas will continue until at least 2011.