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THE VERSACE TOUCH: Versace has partnered with ModeLabs Group to create Unique, its first touch-screen luxury mobile phone that will be available in watch and fine jewelry shops and Versace flagship boutiques starting next month. The device, which is hand-assembled in France, will feature a face made of high-tech ceramic or lacquer with either an 18-karat gold or stainless steel finish. The back is covered in handcrafted leather, in a palette ranging from pink and purple to black, and embossed with the brand’s Medusa head logo. The hardware was engineered by South Korean giant LG Electronics, which also has teamed up with Prada on two mobile phones. Unique will have a retail price range of 5,500 euros, or $6,747 at current exchange, for the most basic model, to 6,900 euros, or $8,464, for the ceramic-gold alligator skin model.
LOUBOUTIN’S ANGELS: Christian Louboutin has brought his own brand of showbiz to the Cannes Film Festival, with a pop-up shoe store on the beach of the Riviera resort that doubles as a showcase for his Loubi’s Angels. They go by the stage names Jessyca, Claudine and Josephine, and performed outside the Palm Beach Casino for three nights from Sunday after a cross-country trek documented in a series of short movies posted on Louboutin’s Web site, featuring cameos by the likes of Mika, Dita Von Teese and Elisa Sednaoui. The designer said the idea came to him a few years ago when he was lunching with an actress in Cannes who complained she could not find his shoes there. “I thought, why not have something like an ice cream truck stationed in front of the Hôtel du Cap?” he said. Instead, he snapped up an old cheese truck and had it painted black. The mobile store, dubbed “The Black Carriage,” will travel through France and Spain this summer. The designer plans to open several permanent stores this year: ones in Beirut in July, Dallas in September, Tokyo in November and Dubai by yearend. He also is beginning work on a book to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his brand next year and starting an archive of his work.
BRAZIL BOOSTER: As other world economies continue to falter, Brazil remains a relative bastion of stability. The rapidly growing middle and upper classes have not been lost on luxury brands, which are becoming as ubiquitous as the skimpy Brazilian fio dental bikini on the beaches of Ipanema. Riding the wave of Brazil’s growing affluence and consumers’ appetite for high-end goods is luxury mall owner and operator Iguatemi. On Tuesday evening, Diane von Furstenberg held a dinner at her New York headquarters in honor of Carlos Jereissati, chief executive officer of Iguatemi. “I’ve been a close friend of the Jereissati family for a long time,” she told the 75 guests. “I always heard about Iguatemi, but how excited can you get about a shopping center? It’s really not a shopping center. It’s the only place in the world that is a shopping center that actually has a soul.” Von Furstenberg, who opened a store at Iguatemi São Paulo last month, said it’s done $1 million in sales in six weeks. “You would not believe the numbers. You can’t believe how open the Brazilian customer is. She doesn’t care about the price. She buys it for herself. She buys it for her daughter. She buys it in every color. Then she buys it again because she lost it.” Later, von Furstenberg revealed that her first home store will open in Brazil.
GILLES EN POINTE: Society types have several opportunities to see the ballet, in all its tutu-ed and perfect-pirouette glory. But watching a rehearsal where the dancers wear legwarmers and hoodies and, gasp, mess up, is almost unheard of, which is why the lunch hosted by Peter Martins, Jim Gold and Gilles Mendel at the New York City Ballet on Wednesday was a treat. Susan Gutfreund, Lisa Airan, Padma Lakshmi, Kalliope Karella and Julia Koch arrived early for a peek at Christopher Wheeldon’s “Estancia” and, later, a glimpse at the costumes Mendel designed for the upcoming Twenties-themed ballet “Call Me Ben,” which has its premiere June 5. Two dancers wearing Mendel’s creations mingled with the guests during cocktails. “I want to wear this out,” said the delighted ballerina, fingering her floaty Champagne-colored frock.
Her partner was dressed in a pinstripe suit and said there were a few rules that went along with wearing a haute couture costume. “We’re not allowed to sit down in them,” he said, rushing back to rehearsal and leaving the ladies to their luncheon.
LIPPES’ LONDON JAUNT: On Wednesday night, London socialites Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, Karen Groos, Teresa Calice and Rebecca Farsi hosted a dinner for Adam Lippes at the Beauchamp Club. Guests including Sally Albemarle, Rena Sindi, Coco Brandolini and Lillian von Stauffenberg gathered to toast the designer with Bellinis while they admired his wares on mannequins dotted about the room. Farsi took the opportunity to regale the crowd with tales of the designer’s early eye for style when the two studied together in Paris. “He said to me, ‘Do you know why we became friends? Because I saw you walking to school and you were wearing the most perfect pair of pearl earrings,’” said Farsi with a laugh. “I knew he’d go on to great things.” The designer is set to make a personal appearance in Harrods today, before heading to Paris for some vacation time.