Byline: Lisa Lockwood / With contributions from Peter Braunstein / Jacob Bernstein

TO CATCH A THIEF: Luxury goods public relations staffers, beware. The next time you get a phone call from someone claiming to be a GQ accessories editor, Julio Iglesias’ road manager, or a really close friend of Herve Villechaize, think twice before sending out those bottles of Higher Dior. You may be helping to line the pockets of a scam artist who has been bilking companies such as Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Sony, and Motorola for the past year. “This man with a bit of a Southern accent called me and identified himself as ‘Ruben Mallorette,”‘ an employee of a high-end luxury company told WWD. “He claimed that he worked for Out magazine, was very thorough, knew the answers to everything — he really seemed to know the industry. Anyway, he asked for some products for a shoot they were doing, and we sent it out to him.”
“Ruben Mallorette,” in cahoots with a female assistant who often acts as his secretary, has twenty-something other aliases, according to the investigator of this string of larcenies for Conde Nast, who requested anonymity. Conde Nast is a division of Advance Publications, which is the parent company of WWD.
“He’s hit Dior twice, he’s hit places for free computers and other expensive items,” the investigator told WWD. “We’ve been on the case for about a month. It’s a serious larceny situation. He’s claimed to work for Conde Nast titles like GQ, but he’s also used Hearst Corporation affiliations. Basically, his m.o. is to ask for products, give the company a street address that is really a post office box, like Mailbox Unlimited, then pick up the goods that way. I’d say he’s probably made away with thousands of dollars of merchandise by now.”
At present, the investigator is using all means at his disposal to catch the thief, but ‘Ruben Mallorette’ is nothing if not elusive. “The Conde Nast people wanted me to be their decoy,” said the luxury firm staffer. “They said ‘set up a lunch meeting with him, and then we’ll nab him’. But I’m not putting myself in that kind of danger for two bottles of cologne.”
“We’re narrowing things down, we have some pretty good leads, and are working closely with the Midtown North police precinct,” the investigator said.
Staffers might want to test the waters before sending out expensive products. If someone claiming to be ‘Cindi Leive’ calls from, say, Glamour magazine asking for products, play with her head a little. Say ‘hey, I loved that Talia Shire profile you guys ran last month’. If she responds with ‘thanks, that got a lot of buzz’, you know you’re dealing with a phony Cindi Leive. That’s the time to pounce: ‘There was no Talia Shire profile in the March Glamour, and I’m calling the police, Cindi Leive, or whatever your real name is.”

WSJ’S LUXURY PUSH: The Wall Street Journal is making no secret of its attempt to woo the fashion crowd.
Its new Personal Journal section, that will make its debut April 9 and will be published every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, will aggressively go after fashion advertisers.
“We will spend a lot more effort trying to secure luxury goods advertisers for Personal Journal. There’ll be a major push toward that effort,” said Steven Goldstein, vice president of Dow Jones & Co., the Journal’s parent.
In fact, when the WSJ introduces the new Personal Journal section of April 9, it will send out 500 linen and leather tote bags containing that day’s copy of the newspaper to top feature and fashion editors at the major lifestyle magazines.
And how will they determine who rates a leather bag?
“The list is still in formation,” said Goldstein.
Personal Journal will take the day’s news events and apply it to people’s personal lives in such areas as health, travel, automotive and personal finance, said Goldstein. He said that the Journal’s fashion coverage will continue to be headed by Teri Agins, who will write for all the Journal sections, including the front page, Weekend Journal, Marketplace and Personal Journal.
Jill Kaplan, general manager of Personal Journal and Weekend Journal, said that in addition to full-page color ads, Personal Journal advertisers will be afforded the opportunity to run fractional ads in color, which isn’t available to Weekend Journal advertisers.

FROM “LION KING” TO “PRINCE WILLIAM”: ABC Television Network has signed a deal with Fox Television Studios to produce an original TV film about Prince William’s life. Called — originally — “Prince William,” the film is scheduled to air as a presentation of “The Wonderful World of Disney” during the 2002-2003 season on ABC. The film will dramatize the prince’s youth, the aftermath of his mother Princess Diana’s tragic death and his battle to protect her memory, his ongoing university years, his relationship with his father, Prince Charles, his acceptance of Camilla Parker Bowles and her children and his close bond with his younger brother, Prince Harry. And for all you Prince Charming wannabes out there, casting for the film will begin soon, with a production date slated to start in late spring. It will be shot in the United Kingdom, although Buckingham Palace, which frowns on such biopics, certainly won’t be cooperating.

BODY WORSHIP: Self magazine and VH1 have teamed up to create “Rock Bodies,” a joint project that includes a major editorial feature in Self’s September issue, timed to coincide with the release of a VH1 primetime special. The special will have behind-the-scenes coverage of “Rock Bodies” such as Madonna, Faith Hill and Shania Twain and their unusual training regimens, as well as interviews with their trainers, nutritionists and gurus.

ON THE MOVE: Maria Baugh has been named executive editor of In Style, succeeding Charla Lawhon, who became managing editor on Monday. Most recently, Baugh was executive editor of sister publication, Teen People. Taking over Baugh’s responsibilities is Michael Jennings, who joined in late February as deputy editor.
Elsewhere, Victoria Sanchez-Lincoln has been named fashion director of Latina. She will oversee and manage the fashion department, style fashion shoots and manage the fashion writers. Most recently she was senior fashion editor of Mode.

CRIMES OF FASHION: Who will handle the fashion coverage when the Sun rises on April 16? “One of our crackerjack reporters is Katherine Finkelstein,” says features editor Ellen Umansky. In addition to Finkelstein’s monthly column on fashion, the paper will also use freelance writers. If Finkelstein’s name is unfamiliar to those the fashion world, it’s because she was previously a news reporter for the New York Times, writing for the metro desk about the glamorous world of high crime. Umansky says the fashion coverage will be about the “highs and lows of the fashion world.”

FASHION FINALISTS: Wieden + Kennedy, Martin Williams Inc. and Peterson Milla Hooks are among the 25 ad agency finalists for the $100,000 Grand Prize Kelly Award to be presented by Magazine Publishers of America at Pier Sixty in New York on May 14. Wieden + Kennedy was nominated for three different Nike print campaigns called “Swoosh,” “Play” and “Storm;” Martin Williams got the nod for its LL Bean “Spring/Fall” print campaign, and Peterson Milla Hooks was nominated for its Target Stores “Color Your World” print ad. The Grand Prize is given annually to an ad agency’s creative team that produced the best ad campaign in magazines.

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