ITALIAN DESIGNERS STRIKE BACK: Italian designers reacted harshly to the absence of a New York Times critic at any of the Milan men’s shows, which concluded Wednesday. Gucci’s Tom Ford said he was “shocked” and “disappointed” at the Gray Lady’s absence and was planning to express that sentiment to Times editors. (For the record, Robert Bryant and David Farber of the New York Times Magazine Style section attended most shows — but not to review them or cover news during the week for the daily paper.)

This story first appeared in the June 28, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“The Times is saying Milan is not important to men’s fashion, when it’s the most important city,” said Ford.

Giorgio Armani called the Times’ decision to skip Milan “naive,” noting that it displayed “a fundamentally flawed understanding of the men’s fashion industry today.”

Aggravating matters further was the statement from the Times’ Trip Gabriel, editor of fashion news last week claiming that the Milan shows were growing increasingly irrelevant to retailers. “We find it hard to believe that anyone, speaking for such a highly regarded institution as The New York Times, could express these kind of grossly mistaken and ill-conceived views,” said Santo Versace.

And in a not-so-subtle hint that continued apathy towards Italian men’s fashion by the paper could affect business relations between the two entities, Italy’s Camera Nazionale della Moda fired off a letter to Times editor-in-chief Howell Raines and senior VP and director of advertising Jyll Holzman, calling Gabriel’s comments “extremely injurious to Italian fashion.” The missive concluded, “We hope that this regrettable incident will not be repeated, considering the importance of both Italian fashion and your newspaper, as well as the good relations existing between us up until now.”

BANKRUPTCY BABES: Enron, Tyco, WorldCom — the list of ethically challenged companies grows by the minute. But there’s a sexy side to corporate turpitude, a fact made apparent at Playboy’s “Women of Enron” conference held Thursday morning at Delmonico’s restaurant just off Wall Street to commemorate the magazine’s August issue featuring 10 women from the doomed Houston-based energy corporation. Former Enron employees Carey Lorenzo, Christine Nielsen, and Cynthia Coghlan perkily fielded such probing, original questions from CNN as “what was it like to pose nude?” and “what did your parents think of this?” As to whether Enron’s corporate culture was as debauched as its business practices, Nielsen told WWD: “They threw great parties, and spared no expense.” Well, sure, they had a lot of (their shareholders’) money to throw around. In a poignant moment, Nielsen revealed the company she still misses wiped out her father’s savings. “I had my family invest in Enron stock, including my dad, who has been a postal worker for 30 years,” she said. “At one point his stock value totalled $100,000, but now it’s worth nothing.”

But the scandals are ongoing and Playboy Enterprises president of publishing Michael Carr isn’t about to miss a chance. “If there are any girls at WorldCom who want to send us their photos, we’d welcome that,” he said.

LIFETIME MAG A GO: Sally Koslow, former editor in chief of McCall’s from 1994 to its final issue in 2001, has a new gig: Lifetime. Hearst Magazines and Lifetime Entertainment Services, jointly owned by the Hearst Corp. and the Walt Disney Co., will launch a new women’s magazine next March under the Lifetime brand. The bimonthly title will debut with a rate base of 500,000 and will go monthly starting with the September 2003 issue. It will carry the tagline, “Real Life. Real Women,” and will contain content based on programming from Lifetime, the No. 1 cable TV network in primetime, as well as inspirational stories, fashion and coverage of beauty, psychology, relationships and health issues. A publisher has yet to be named.

NYLON DEPARTURES: There seems to be a lot of movement these days at Nylon magazine. This week, Jessica Brinton resigned as senior fashion features editor. She plans to return to London, where she will become a London editor for Nylon and do freelance writing. As reported, Lina Kutsovskaya resigned as art director to take a similar post at Teen Vogue. Marvin Jarrett, Nylon’s editor in chief, said replacements for Kutsovskaya and Brinton will be named next week. He said part of Kutsovskaya’s responsibilities have been assigned to Robin Forest, a freelancer, who’s joining as photo editor, a new post.

ESCADA’S NEW TEAM: Escada is apparently gearing up for a complete change of image. Alex Gonzalez, creative director of A/R Media was spotted in the offices of the German fashion group outside of Munich last week, and word has it that he’ll be giving Escada’s catalog and corporate identity a 100 percent revamp as well as doing the ad campaign. Wolfgang Ley, Escada’s chief executive officer wouldn’t comment on the A/R rumor.

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