BARE NECESSITIES: Purple Fashion editor in chief Olivier Zahm brings out the exhibitionist in people. A show of his black-and-white photographs at trendy Parisian concept store Colette includes a couple having sex, a woman lifting her dress to reveal her lack of underwear and some enthusiastic French kissing, sometimes involving Zahm himself. The shots, which hint at an orgiastic lifestyle, are drawing 15,000 visitors a day — and rising — to Purple Diary, the blog companion to the magazine that was launched a year ago. “In one month, the blog reaches more people than the magazine does in six months,” Zahm marveled. Luckily for Zahm, his friends have embraced the concept.

Anna Dello Russo, fashion director at Vogue Japan, happily posed for snaps — fully clothed — before heading off to check out the exhibit. “There is a picture of me? Otherwise, I go,” she joked. She needn’t have worried — of course there was. — Joelle Diderich

This story first appeared in the March 8, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

YSL SUES GUARDIAN: Public discussions of sensitive racial issues can often be fraught with controversy, as a legal battle between Yves Saint Laurent’s creative director, Stefano Pilati, and the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper group shows. YSL and Pilati are embroiled in criminal and civil defamation suits against the Guardian over a story that appeared in the April 19 issue of its weekly Sunday paper, The Observer, and on the Guardian Web site.

The story in question, titled “America’s New Vogue for Black Fashion Is All Due to Michelle Obama,” described the influence the First Lady was exerting on the fashion world — but also delved into the historic paucity of minority models in fashion. As an example of the industry’s attitudes toward the issue, the story repeated comments Pilati made to Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan in a 2007 profile of the designer.

“The fashion industry has historically played fast and loose with the sort of colour bar that could not exist in other industries,” the Guardian story said. “Bar a handful of top names, there are few black models on the runways of the fashion world. Nor, historically, have they been much more than tokens on magazine covers or fashion shoots. In 2007 top designer Stefano Pilati complained to a Washington Post fashion reporter (who was black) that he could not find black models that had the right body proportions and so did not design clothes for a black body shape. ‘You can’t find [black models] that are beautiful and with the right proportions,’ he said.”

When the original Washington Post story was published, Pilati’s provocative comments caused a stir on some Web sites and blogs. Pilati did not deny making the statements to Givhan, and no legal issues were raised by YSL with the Post. However, the Post story made clear Pilati was partly referencing the technical challenges of using a black fit model.

“To me, it is a matter of proportions and the bodies I choose. My fit model was a black model. When I wanted to translate what I put on her, it was a disaster. It would need 13 times more work in the atelier to modify it to put on a more Caucasian anatomy,” said Pilati in the Post story.

The differences in the two stories were apparently enough to upset Pilati and YSL, and in July they filed defamation suits in Paris district court against Guardian News & Media Ltd.; Paul Harris, the author of the story; Tim Brooks, managing director of the Guardian newspapers, and John Mulholland, editor of The Observer. YSL and Pilati are each suing for 150,000 euros, or $204,354 at current exchange, plus legal costs. Following a series of filings, including a March 2 document outlining the Guardian’s defense obtained by WWD, the case is scheduled to come before a judge in June.

YSL and Pilati declined to comment on the case, as did lawyers for the Guardian.
— David Lipke

ROGER THAT: After 18 years in public relations at Gucci in Europe, Cristina Malgara is moving over to Roger Vivier as global communications manager, starting in May. She will report to Vivier’s brand general manager, Sabine Brunner. Most recently, Malgara was director of p.r. for Gucci in France, Monaco, Belgium, Germany and Spain. — Miles Socha

HAVE A SEAT, SIR: Perhaps in an attempt to cozy up to readers a little more, Esquire magazine is getting into the home furnishings game with a new furniture and home accessories collection called Esquire Home. Created in conjunction with British furniture company Halo, the line will make its debut at the High Point International Home Furnishings Market in April and hit store floors in the fall.

“We are reinvigorating our brand extension programs with things that are immediately relevant to what the Esquire man’s lifestyle is all about,” said Glen Ellen Brown, vice president of Hearst Brand Development (a unit of Hearst Magazines). And that includes chairs, sofas and ottomans, as well as plenty of home-office and entertaining pieces, inspired, Brown said, by the magazine’s “legacy of style” as well as its annual “signature space” events in New York and Los Angeles, for which Esquire redesigns an apartment or house as a “branded experience” and event space.

“We were very much involved in not just the nitty-gritty, but also the philosophy, the idea, the thinking behind it,” said Esquire fashion director Nick Sullivan, who worked on the project with Brown and editor in chief David Granger. “I’m not a furniture designer, but I know what I like, and I know clothes and I know men’s wear.” To that end, the collection is full of masculine and tailored touches, with materials such as distressed leathers, twills, tweeds and wools, as well as polished nickel and black glass elements.

And the line definitely isn’t for a man’s first bachelor pad — unless that man is making well into the six figures. Esquire Home trunks will range from $795 to $1,295; sofas, from $2,500 to $3,995; chairs and bar stools, from $995 to $2,500, and office pieces ranging from $1,195 to $1,895. Brown added that lighting, accessories, rugs and carpet collections will also debut at High Point.

Other than a line of watches with Movado (which began more than 20 years ago), this is the first licensing program for the magazine in recent memory, though not for Hearst. Indeed, Brown said that, of the 18 Hearst titles, her division works with roughly 50 percent “on an active lifestyle basis.” (To wit, there are Good Housekeeping marinades, Town & Country-branded frozen gourmet appetizers and Country Living preserves and pie crust mixes.) — Nick Axelrod

ALL FOR ART: Gilt Groupe has made its first foray into the art world, with the sale of two pieces from artist Katherine Bernhardt that began Thursday. Each print costs $500, which is much less than some of the designer clothing that often sells out on the site. Gilt partnered with Art & Advisory for two exclusive prints, one featuring Penélope Cruz, as pictured in her Mango clothing ad, and the second with Kate Moss, inspired by her campaign for Yves Saint Laurent’s Parisienne perfume.

Next up, Gilt is entering the world of weddings. On March 12, the site will begin selling practically anything a bride, groom or bridal party could want for their wedding, said a spokeswoman, including honeymoon options and even juice cleanses. The online sale will run through the weekend until Sunday evening, a first for the company. — Amy Wicks