THE PARIS PLAYERS: Margiela at Hermes? Or maybe Narciso Rodriguez? How about Yohji at Balenciaga? Those are a few of the sexier rumors heating up Paris this week, as the guessing game continues over all the designer vacancies in town. From Chloe to Cerruti to Balenciaga, Hermes and Balmain’s ready-to-wear, the openings are plentiful and the headhunting is on.
Both Margiela and Rodriguez have been whispered about as replacements for retired design director Claude Brouet at Hermes. A spokesman for Margiela said there are “quite a few things in the fire, and this is a rumor that has been going around for a long time, but we have no comment.” Rodriguez, meanwhile, is testing the waters, after abruptly departing from Cerruti last month. Nino Cerruti is actively interviewing to fill that vacancy.
Whatever move Hermes makes, don’t expect an announcement until the house first appoints a new managing director to succeed Patrick Thomas, who left in March for a top post at Lancaster.
As for the vacancy at Balenciaga, a spokesman for Yohji Yamamoto said that, while the designer is clearly interested in doing couture, “he would do it under his own name.”
At Balmain, Oscar de la Renta continues as couture designer, but the house is on the hunt for a designer for rtw, diffusion and accessories. Chanel’s Gilles Dufour has already denied rumors that he’s a candidate and Balmain president Alain Hivelin told WWD that while he has interviewed both big and small names for the job, Dufour is one person he hasn’t met with.
At Chloe, a replacement for Karl Lagerfeld will be named “shortly,” company officials said. Both Peter O’Brien, the designer for Rochas and Josephus Thimister, formerly of Balenciaga, confirmed that they were interviewed but said they’re out of the running.
STILL IN THE RING: Dickson Poon may be a tough contender for Barneys New York, but Saks Fifth Avenue may be willing to take him to the mat. Philip B. Miller, chairman and chief executive officer of the high-end retail chain, said Tuesday that Saks, which hasn’t made a bid on the bankrupt retailer yet, is still doing due diligence and is “absolutely” interested in a deal, despite what promises to be a long process in the courtroom. “We’re right there,” said Miller.
COMIC STRIP: Kristen McMenamy seems to have a problem keeping her clothes on. Whenever she gets in a snit, off they come. Saturday night at Twilo after the Versus show, McMenamy at one point asked a Versace staffer for a beer and he reportedly replied, “Get it yourself, Cinderella.” The model promptly slipped out of the Versus dress she was wearing, balled it up and gave it to him. She stomped out in her overcoat. And Monday night at Marc Jacobs, she stepped out of the skirt of her gray tweed Anna Sui suit when another model walked in wearing the same skirt. “I won’t be seen wearing the same clothes as someone else,” she insisted. “I have to be an individual.”
PRADA PROPERTY: Prada is said to have bought a big building in New York in the West Fifties, and is working on other deals in the U.S. It could not be learned whether the company intends to use the new space for storage or offices. Also, the company is still undecided on what to put in its new Rodeo Drive space, which had been intended for its Granello line.
HOT ITEM: Where are those fire marshals when you need them? At Tuesday’s Richard Tyler show, Vogue editor Marina Rust draped her Jil Sander coat over the back of her chair — and, unwittingly, over a light fixture. A burning smell soon alerted Rust — and the rest of the audience — that her coat was on fire. Rust’s smoldering outerwear was quickly doused, but the fire left it with two large holes. A spokesman for the designer said the company is giving her a Tyler coat. “Something nonflammable,” he said.
THE DYNAMIC DUO: Tom Ford has landed Madonna for his first big Gucci event in the U.S. She will be honorary co-chair of this year’s APLA benefit on June 5 in a Santa Monica airport airplane hangar. In the past, there’s been some controversy over the handling of funds for the APLA fashion gala, but this year, Gucci will underwrite the entire evening — which will include a runway show of Ford’s fall collection. No word yet on whether Madonna will take to the catwalk.

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