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THE FRIENDLY FOE: Has the holiday spirit hit Saks Fifth Avenue a little early this year? Perhaps taking a cue from the famous Santa-inspired good will displayed between Macy’s and Gimbel’s in “Miracle on 34th Street,” Saks decided to play nice and placed a 2-by-7-inch ad celebrating archrival Neiman Marcus in today’s New York Times. The page-three ad says: “Saks loves lasting impressions. We congratulate Neiman Marcus on 100 years of style.”

“We are being a gracious competitor,” said Terron Schaefer, group senior vice president, creative and marketing. “We are happy to wish them well.” As for Neiman Marcus, a spokeswoman said, “It is a lovely gesture. One hundred years is an incredible milestone that we are very proud of.”

Come Saturday, the market share battle is back on.
— Amy Wicks

MODELS AND MAYHEM: Bar Refaeli, Israeli model and Leonardo DiCaprio lady friend, is striking back at Israel’s largest daily newspaper for publishing an interview with her that has outraged many. In a story printed in Yediot Achronot’s holiday supplement last week, Refaeli was quoted as saying, “Why is it good to die for our country? Isn’t it better to live in New York?” (The first reference is to a famous early Zionist’s dying words.) She was also quoted as saying she had no regrets for having evaded mandatory military service by marrying a family friend, because “it paid off big-time.”

Israeli press reports Thursday indicated that Ettie Hasid, a lawyer for Refaeli, had written a letter to the newspaper demanding half-a-million shekels in compensation (about $125,000), plus a full apology and the removal of the article from all relevant archives. Such a letter is the first step toward a libel lawsuit. The letter accused the newspaper of “initiating and encouraging a public media lynching of Bar Refaeli,” saying her quotes had been twisted and taken out of context. It also dictated the wording of a detailed apology, down to the larger font size and front-page placement. According to the Israeli newspaper Globes, Yediot Achronot responded that the entire interview had been recorded and that everything published in the story was quoted word for word. Refaeli’s agency in New York declined comment, as did the New York-based author of the piece, and Hasid, reached at 11 p.m. Israel time, said she was sleeping and could not give an interview.
— Irin Carmon

This story first appeared in the October 12, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.