One of the most sought-after decorating commissions of the decade has been awarded: Computer billionaire Bill Gates and his new bride, Melinda French, have picked Thierry Despont to design the interiors of their forthcoming dream house in Medina, Wash., just outside Seattle. The couple made their decision after an exhaustive search. Several dozen decorators were initially contacted and flown to Seattle to inspect the building site. A group of six was then selected to make presentations. But before the finalists — who included Peter Marino, Victoria Hagen and Paul Vincent Wiseman of San Francisco — could complete their proposals, the Gateses apparently decided Despont was their man. The French-born designer does have experience doing big houses — he built Leslie Wexner’s 60,000-square-foot mansion in Columbus, Ohio. Despont, whose previous clients have included Calvin Klein, Susan Gutfreund and Gap president Millard Drexler, has “absolutely no comment” on the new commission.

It was a girl for Ian and Rita Schrager on April 21 — but their baby announcement was in the deepest of blues. In fact, there’s nothing traditional whatsoever about the just-received birth announcement for little Sophia Blanche Schrager. The poster-sized announcement is designed like an architect’s rendering of the baby, complete with arrows pointing to “Mom’s Mouth,” “Dad’s Smile,” and “Mom’s Looks (Hopefully).” It also lists “Consulting Architects” — Sophia Blanche’s grandparents.

It’s Sophia Loren versus Kim Basinger, Brigitte Bardot, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell. The Italian actress is taking a pro stance on the fur/anti-fur issue and will appear in the new print campaign of Annabella Pellicceria, a high-end Italian fur maker, based in Pavia. The campaign, shot in black and white by Giampaolo Barbieri in a Paris studio, features Loren wrapped in a plush black mink coat that reveals her voluptuous decolletage.

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