MR. BLOOMINGDALE’S IS BACK: Collections week just wouldn’t be the same without him: Triumphantly back on the scene at Sunday’s D show was Bloomingdale’s Kal Ruttenstein. Ruttenstein just checked out of Mount Sinai Hospital, after suffering a stroke last January. And he promptly filled his calendar with collections to attend this week, including Nicole Miller, Marc Jacobs, Todd Oldham, Ralph Lauren, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Jill Stuart, Oscar de la Renta and Isaac Mizrahi.
“God, it feels so good to be out,” said Ruttenstein. “I am hitting the collections that are important to Bloomingdale’s, important to fashion and important to me. The collections are a major part of my life. I love shows. I love clothes. I love fashion.”
Ruttenstein, who is undergoing occupational and physical therapy, said it was tough not to attend the European shows last month. “I felt thwarted. I’ve been going to Europe for 22 years. It was the first time I missed it. Now I feel I’m involved in the process again. I don’t want to stop. I want to keep going.
“Everybody has been incredibly nice. I’ve been receiving postcards, notes, phone calls from people I never realized thought about me. It’s very touching. I feel wonderful. Relaxed. It feels great to be back.”
His reaction to D: “Very sophisticated. It wasn’t like a [typical] bridge or contemporary line. It has its own point of view….It was a great collection.”
STAYING PUT: Helmut Lang already has an apartment in New York, where he’s spending lots of time while hunting for a store site in SoHo. In fact, he’s even in town now. But that doesn’t mean Lang is ready to pull up stakes in Vienna and relocate his business here. Through a spokeswoman, Lang denied rumors he is eyeing a permanent relocation. “There are currently no plans to move his business to New York. At some point in the future, after the New York store has opened, the structure of the company might be reevaluated. But for now, there are no plans to move Helmut Lang to America or divide the company between Vienna and New York.” A New York store will be Lang’s first in the U.S. He currently has stores in Munich, Milan and Vienna.
THE SHY ONES: There’s been a spate of unfriendly celebrities at the shows this week: Natalie Merchant said she wasn’t feeling well enough to chat at Cynthia Rowley, and Leonardo di Caprio scorned the press at both the Versus and Rowley shows. Bette Midler hid behind her program at Isabel Toledo and then was whisked backstage by security, stopping only to say hello to the designer.
But Paula Abdul and Annabella Sciorra both stopped to talk backstage. Abdul was wearing a brown stretch pantsuit from Groove Girl, the new label that her husband, Brad Beckerman, is starting. But she admitted to a taste for Rowley’s clothes: “She’s one of my favorite designers, and I love her as a human being. Her clothes are simple, elegant and young.”
Sciorra said she’d stolen a few minutes away from rehearsal for an “improvisational film” she’s doing with Eric Stoltz and Justine Bateman.
“I don’t love fashion shows, but I like clothes,” she said. “My mother was a stylist, so I went backstage a lot when I was a little girl.”
TODD AND TRIO: Todd Oldham will turn up the volume with his after-show fete tonight at Irving Plaza. The designer is throwing a party with Us3, the hip-hop/acid jazz combo whose first release, “Hand on the Torch,” has sold almost 900,000 copies to date. Its next album, “Broadway & 52nd,” will break this month, and Oldham directed the music video that accompanies the first single. The bash benefits Mothers’ Voices, an AIDS education and advocacy group.
FACELIFTS: Escada chairman Wolfgang Ley is hitting Bergdorf Goodman today to inaugurate the renovated Escada boutique there. It’s part of a three-year program of in-store renovations the company is rolling out across the country.
THE STATE OF FASHION: Libby Pataki is an unlikely fashion symbol, but she’s just that in the latest “I Love New York” ad campaign. Attending the Carolina Herrera show in a Herrera black wool pantsuit with fake fur trim, New York’s First Lady said, “I’m here to support the fashion industry, not to buy anything. That will come later.” Pataki’s commercial for the state’s Convention and Tourism Board, dubbed “I Love New York Fashion,” will air on the closed-circuit TV’s around the 7th on Sixth venues. It will run in selected markets this month and in the fall.

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