SEPTEMBER MOURN: Since it seems more and more likely that the spring 2003 runway shows in New York could take place during the week of Sept. 8-14, the Council of Fashion Designers of America is hosting a meeting on Thursday to bounce around ideas of what to do with Sept. 11, the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks. “There’s clearly a concern that Sept. 11 will be a day when the whole world will be less focused on fashion than on what happened a year ago,” said Peter Arnold, executive director of the CFDA. “The problem is, then, what should we do in that place?” A small group — maybe 10 people representing retailers, the press, designers and show producers — will take place in the discussion. That includes the options of rescheduling Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, although there isn’t much room to budge due to coinciding holidays and ensuing presentations in London, Milan and Paris. That is, unless New York designers were willing to move back to the end of the fashion calendar. “This is a much bigger issue for the industry to decide,” said Fern Mallis, vice president of IMG and executive director of 7th on Sixth, which produces the shows in Bryant Park. “We’re going to explore all the options, but that is some people’s least favorite choice.”

PEACE BROKER: Kuwaiti retailer Majed Al-Sabah has achieved peace in the Middle East — at least between warring fashion labels Shirin Guild and Eskandar. Al-Sabah, who this week opens his grand new 75,000-square-foot location, boasts that his is the only store in the world to carry the two brands — and he features them on the same rack. He explained that Shirin Guild and Eskandar have been battling in court since last year over allegations that Eskandar copied Guild’s designs. According to Eskandar, a court of appeal last month dismissed Guild’s copyright claims that Eskandar copied its wide sweater, cardigan and shirt. In any event, Al-Sabah said retailers are usually forced to choose one brand or the other, but he held his ground and prevailed. Now he’ll get to see who wins the battle for consumer dollars on the sales floor.

HIGHER DEGREES: Koos van den Akker and Zandra Rhodes are picking up honorary doctorates from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco on May 21. Some of the graduating seniors will be awarded internships with the designers, in their studios in New York and London, respectively, or in Rhodes’ home and accessories production facilities in Del Mar, Calif. For van den Akker, who is 63, this is a first degree of any kind. While he trained at the Royal Academy of Art at the Hague before military service and then at L’Ecole Guerre Lavigne in Paris, he hadn’t completed a degree before signing on for his own apprenticeship to Christian Dior in 1963, a spokeswoman said.

IT’S NEW VOICE: IT Holding USA has tapped Denise De Luca as its director of public relations for its American operation. She started Monday at the firm’s 712 Fifth Avenue office, here.
The company has plenty on its plate, having recently bought Gianfranco Ferre. It also owns such brands as Malo, Romeo Gigli, Exte, Gentryportofino and holds the licenses for Just Cavalli, Versus, Versace Jeans Couture and Dolce & Gabbana. Through the IT-controlled company Allison, the Milan-based conglomerate manages several eyewear licenses, including Anna Sui Vision, Ferre, Romeo Gigli and Exte.
For the past four-and-a-half years, De Luca was p.r. director for Salvatore Ferragamo North America, and before that was director of media relations at Bloomingdale’s for three years.

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