CRI DE COEUR: “Shameful: a dark blot on France,” commented Pierre Berge, Yves Saint Laurent’s partner, of extreme-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen’s surprise victory in the first round of French presidential elections on Sunday. Berge, an intimate of late French Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, called on his countrymen to bury their political differences and rally en masse for Jacques Chirac, the conservative incumbent. “It’s the only way to save our honor,” he said. For his part, couturier Karl Lagerfeld, who is German but lives in Paris, painted the situation equally grim. “I am not French, so it’s not my problem,” he said. “But seen from the outside, it looks very bad.” Emanuel Ungaro added, “It’s deplorable. The situation is lamentable. It paints a dark image of France.” Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party, is infamous for declaring the gas chambers “a detail of history.” He campaigned on an anti-European Union platform and has blamed rising violence on France’s large immigrant community. “It’s neo-fascism,” said Ungaro. Polls suggest that Chirac will secure a landslide victory when he faces off with Le Pen in the final vote on May 5. But Le Pen’s narrow victory over Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin fell like a thunderbolt in Paris. It has incited mass popular protest with rallies against Le Pen planned Monday evening for cities across France.

ON THE DRAWING BOARD: The future of the Joop fashion label is still up in the air. Two of the parties potentially interested in buying the business from bankrupt parent company Wunsche — the designer himself, Wolfgang Joop, and Mustang president and Joop Jeans licensee Heiner Sefranek — could only shrug their shoulders when asked how things stood with the beleaguered brand.
“The situation is a complete mess,” said one source close to the company.
Joop and Sefranek were in Apolda, a former East German town close to Weimar, for the opening April 19 of an exhibition of Joop’s illustrations at the Kunsthaus Apolda Avantegarde. Joop started his career as a fashion illustrator, and the show includes his Seventies drawings of Paris designer fashion for German and Swiss magazines and newspapers, as well as illustrations for his first freelance design clients, and diverse illustrations, in gouache, watercolor, Indian ink and pencil, which accompanied his own collections from 1981 to 2000. Talks are under way to bring the show to New York.
Meanwhile, the designer, who splits his time between his residences in Monte Carlo, Potsdam and New York, is in the throes of finishing his first novel, which he said is about “mystery, love and being lost.” A second cookbook is also in the works; Hallmark Cards is interested in licensing his book, “The Little Heart,” and Joop’s considering new design projects. “Now that I have the distance, I think the Joop brand is worth renovating,” he commented. “But it’s so screwed up that it may not be possible, in which case, perhaps I’ll go into a product line for Wunderkind.” is the Potsdam p.r. agency that handles Joop’s press work and various book and art projects.

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