FASHION SCOOPS

NINA NEWS: Nina Ricci is about to name James Aguiar its new creative director, according to a Paris source. Aguiar has been working at Ricci since last fall, but is now set to officially succeed artistic director Massimo Giussani, the designer of the collection for the past year. It is understood that Aguiar will select and direct new designers for ready-to-wear and accessories. Before joining Nina Ricci, Aguiar was fashion director for ready-to-wear at Bergdorf Goodman. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

MILA’S MOVES: Mila Schon, the Italian fashion house owned by Mariella Burani Fashion Group, is parting ways with its three lead designers, Federico Piaggi, Stefano Citron and Greg Mayler. The decision not to renew their contract, which expired with this last fall season, was mutual, according to a company spokeswoman. The long-standing trio — Piaggi joined 12 years ago while the others worked there for six — will not be replaced by a marquee name. Rather, the creative reins will be handed to an in-house design team and Mila Schon herself will stay on as creative coordinator.

DELUXE DUNGAREES: Often called Paris’ king of cashmere, Lucien Pellat-Finet has a case of the blues. Known for his cheeky and colorful collection of men’s and women’s cashmere knits, Pellat-Finet plans to launch a high-end denim collection in January. “They will be the utmost in luxury jeans, produced in Japan, and almost completely handmade,” the designer said Wednesday. Pellat-Finet said the men’s and women’s jeans collection would feature trousers, skirts and blousons. Prices have yet to be determined, but he said the jeans would be “very expensive,” adding, “They’ll go perfectly with cashmere. It fits perfectly with my philosophy of relaxed luxury.”

REMAIN IN SPAIN: OK, so it looks like Loewe is staying put after all — at least for now. Owner LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton on Wednesday denied it is in talks to sell the Spanish fashion and leather goods house. The French giant wanted to quash reports that have appeared in WWD and in the Spanish newspaper L’Expancion suggesting otherwise.

TO EACH HER OWN: No self-respecting music fan would confuse Nikki Costa and Christina Aguilera. And the chasm between the singing songwriter and the chart rider was further underscored at last week’s Rami Kashou show during L.A. Fashion Week. Asked why she turned out, Costa said: “I love supporting young designers, especially those from L.A. There’s such great talent here. I know Rami’s stuff from buying it at [local shop] Diavolina.” Meanwhile, across the way, Aguilera, who also supported L.A. talent by sporting one of Josh & He Yang’s tangled knit tops, seemed less certain as to why she was there, or at Lotta’s show the night before, or even the origin of her clothes, looking to her stylist, Trish Summerville for answers. “It’s something cool to check out,” the pop star finally shrugged.

HERE COMES THE BRIDE: Kirna Zabete co-owner Sarah Hailes will walk down the aisle Saturday in Richmond, Va., in a custom strapless Olivier Theyskens gown of silk charmeuse with lace inserts. Her matron of honor, business partner Beth Buccini, will wear a Clements Ribeiro dress in mint silk georgette, along with the rest of the bridesmaids — and it’s Jimmy Choo shoes for all. The groom is entrepreneur Greg Easley, whom Hailes has known since college. After a 5:30 p.m. ceremony at a local chapel, it’s off to Hailes’ grandmother’s backyard for the reception. It’s bound to be fashionable.

FOOT LOOSE: Footwear magnate Steve Madden loves L.A. — well, at least the city’s looking good as he contemplates his future following the 41-month sentence for stock manipulation he received this month in a Manhattan federal court. While nursing a glass of ice water at the West Hollywood restaurant Koi, Madden said he plans to buy a house in Los Angeles, noting “I need a break from New York.” The break may also come in the form of Florida, at Eglin Air Force base to be exact, where the designer hopes to serve his time. Time will tell: His final court date before Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn Federal Court is set for April 26 to get the verdict on his involvement in stock trades, including the 1993 IPO of his own company, Steven Madden Ltd.

FAKE OUT: Though some say Los Angelenos spend too much time in the sun, and even more at the plastic surgeon, during Fashion Week in L.A. the worst offenders on both counts hailed from New York. Publicist Lizzie Grubman’s ultradeep, curiously toned tan dominated the buzz as guests waited up to an hour for the valet at Grubman client Anthony Castro’s show. And David LaChapelle muse Amanda Lepore enthralled even the 20-something Botox brigade at Joya in Beverly Hills. Lepore confided she was off to Guadalajara this week for yet more face work, as well as the removal of her lower ribs. “I want that corset look, honey,” she raved, “without having to bother with those laces.”

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