KAISER COUNTRY: Yes, Karl Lagerfeld is doing an exhibition of photography and dresses as part of the Hyeres fashion festival in southern France, April 26 to 29. But no, it is not a retrospective. “I don’t do retrospectives,” says the resolutely forward-looking Lagerfeld, who will showcase only his latest work for the Lagerfeld Gallery brand, including advertising images for his new men’s fragrance. Meanwhile, Lagerfeld is off to Berlin for the weekend for a slate of events, including an exhibition of photos he did of German and Belgian bands for the March issue of V magazine. Three of them, Chicks on Speed, DJ Hell and Vive la Fete, are slated to perform at the after-party. Lagerfeld is also unveiling the latest issue from his 7L publishing arm: a book of landscape photography by Stephen Gan, Visionnaire founder and Harper’s Bazaar creative director. Expected to attend the events are designers Hedi Slimane and Olivier Theyskens and model Nadja Auermann.

COCO LOCAL: Call it Chanel central. The recently shuttered Holland & Holland boutique on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris is finally under construction and being converted into a trendy new Chanel concept store. It’s only a few blocks from the Rue Cambon flagship and an accessories and footwear boutique on Rue Royale. “We think it will be a tourist place,” says Chanel president Francoise Montenay. To wit: The store will feature a Peter Marino decor and a new layout highlighting the latest and greatest Chanel has to offer. Watches and accessories will be front and center, along with jewelry and a wall of sunglasses. Upstairs, shoppers will find a very trendy selection of ready-to-wear. “We want it to be eye-catching, even from the street,” Montenay said.

STAR POWER: It was a fashion moment: Photographers nearly trampled actress Kristin Scott Thomas while they jostled to snap designer Jeremy Scott as he arrived for the Chanel couture show a couple of years back. It underscored something many, especially in fashion, have believed for a long time: Fashion designers are the new superstars. And now an exhibit at Paris’ Museum of Fashion and Textiles is set to explore the phenomenon. “Couturier Superstar,” curated by Olivier Saillard, will run from June 5 to Sept. 29 and feature past and current designer stars, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld and, of course, Scott. The museum will also feature a show on the history of hangers. It runs June 13 to Sept. 15.

SMOKE ‘EM OUT: That the 43rd President may not go down as the nation’s most articulate chief is not stopping an enterprising duo from turning a profit on “Dubya’s” greatest verbal hits. BushWares — a collection of T-shirts, camis, thongs, ashtrays and other oddments emblazoned with such sound bites as “Make No Mistake” and “Bring ‘Em to Justice” — has already garnered fans on both sides of the political aisle.
L.A. retailer Tracey Ross, who called the collection “genius,” gifted Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter with an ashtray and lighter emblazoned “Smoke ‘Em Out.”
“President Bush’s little one-liners are amusing, sad to say,” said Ross, who responded enthusiastically when informed Bushwares has added panties with “No Evil Doers” screened on front.
Co-founders Rebecca Kotch and Darren Eng said they were inspired after seeing Bush’s verbal gaffes make their way into public discourse. Now they’ve become CNN addicts, pouncing on such phrases as “two-bit terrorist” for fashion fodder. “I want to see Bush going for the morning jog wearing our T-shirt and hat,” Kotch confessed. “That’s my fantasy.”

CALENDAR CONUNDRUM: Seventh on Sixth says the dates have not yet been finalized for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in September, but sources close to one sponsor said the organization has indicated it may be forced to settle on the week of Sept. 8-14, including shows on Wednesday, Sept. 11, because their counterparts in Milan and Paris won’t move back on the calendar to make the following week feasible. Such a move is likely to draw considerable complaints from designers who are not likely to schedule their shows and related hoopla on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. It could also jeopardize the lucrative sponsorships that have enabled 7th on Sixth to offer a competitive production package to designers showing in the centralized tents, as at least two companies have said they would pull out if the shows are held that week. Plus, at least one major fashion magazine publisher has told his promotions staff not to plan any events around the anniversary. Fern Mallis, vice president of IMG and executive director of 7th on Sixth, is recuperating from minor surgery this week and could not be reached for comment, but her office denied any dates had been set.

BAIT AND SWITCH: Rie Rasmussen was set to star in the Costume National campaign being shot this week by Craig McDean in a vacant town house on East 48th Street, but was cut at the last minute. Designer Ennio Capasa was talking her up earlier this week, inspired by her upcoming role in Brian DePalma’s “Femme Fatale” because he thinks an acting career can actually help a model’s ability to be expressive. But he’s evidently had a change of heart, dumping Rasmussen on Thursday for an upcoming Elite model, Caitriona. No explanations were offered.

SUMMER IN THE WEST END: American actors just can’t get enough of London’s West End, can they? The latest Yanks to cross the Atlantic will be Matt Damon and sweethearts Summer Phoenix and Casey Affleck who will appear in the cast of “This is Our Youth” by film director Kenneth Lonergan. According to a spokeswoman for Out of the Blue Productions, the trio will replace Anna Paquin, Hayden Christensen and Jake Gyllenhaal, who are currently starring in the play about teenage rebellion and romance in Eighties New York. The new cast will be appearing at the Garrick Theatre from April 15 until June 15. As reported, Madonna will appear in “Up for Grabs” at Wyndham’s Theatre next month, and talk is that Gwyneth Paltrow also wants to tread the boards in the West End. Jerry Hall, Linda Evans and Macaulay Culkin have all appeared over the past 18 months in West End productions.

PARIS IN LONDON: It’s not just the West End that’s seducing young Americans. Paris Hilton just arrived in London to film a psychological thriller called “Nine Lives.” The film, written and directed by Andrew Green, is about a group of nine youths being stalked by an evil spirit as they celebrate a 21st birthday in a country house. Hilton begins shooting on Monday at a stately home in North London, and will be there until May 5. Hilton told WWD the film is forcing her off the party circuit. “I haven’t been out at all. I have to get up at six in the morning, but I love London. It’s my favorite city in the whole world!” So where has she been staying? Not the Hilton. Young Paris has opted for more discreet digs — she won’t say where — in Kensington.

BOUTIQUE BURGLARS: London’s South Molton Street, home to Molton Brown and a string of swank clothing and accessories stores, has become a haven for fashion-hungry thieves. Their latest trick is to prey on women who put their handbags down when they’re trying on shoes. The bag snatchers then disappear down the many narrow alleys lining the street. “We tell our customers to be vigilant — there has been a rise in bag snatchers, especially over the past couple of months,” said a spokesman for Kurt Geiger, a shoe store that has been hit by the snatchers. But crime in the area isn’t limited to bag thieves. Browns, a high-end retailer on South Molton Street, and Hermes, on nearby New Bond Street, have both had deliveries stolen from vans unloading outside their shops.

NEW WINDSOR WAYS: Buckingham Palace is clearly learning the art of p.r. The Windsor clan was heavily criticized for its seeming insensitivity for refusing to appear in public for days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, almost five years ago, but has avoided such mis-steps during the buildup to the funeral of the Queen Mother on Tuesday. Buckingham Palace immediately lowered its flag to half-mast (a feat that took it three days when Diana died); Prince Charles appeared on television to admit his grandmother “was the most important woman in my life” (although he addressed the nation from the orchid room at Highgrove, not wanting to let the TV cameras into his living room), and the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex have walked among the crowds outside St. James’ Palace. The Duke also addressed the TV cameras, saying the Queen Mother was his favorite grandmother, too. The Queen and Prince Philip even walked down the hill from Windsor Castle to mingle with the crowds there, with Philip charming some French tourists by addressing them in French.
On Tuesday, Anne, the Princess Royal, will walk behind her grandmother’s casket as it moves down The Mall, making the princess the first female royal ever to do so (they usually ride in cars). The princess will be accompanied by 14 of the Queen Mother’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including princes William and Harry. There even are rumblings the Queen might address the TV cameras next week after the funeral to thank the nation for its support.

NEW-FUR: Badgley Mischka is game for the fur business. The designer duo is diving in through a licensing deal with BC Group International. Badgley Mischka’s first collection of coats, wraps and bags will bow during next month’s fur fashion week. It will be sold in specialty stores in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, Japan and Hong Kong. BC Group is an affiliate of Birger Christensen, the firm that operates fur salons in top-tier stores like Saks Fifth Avenue.

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