FASHION SCOOPS

QUESTION-AND-ANSWER: The news conference was supposed to be all about Giorgio Armani’s new 130,000-square-foot theater and commercial headquarters, designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. But, inevitably, the conversation turned to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Asked if he would re-build the Twin Towers, Ando demurred out of respect to his patron. But Armani, who inaugurates his concrete, glass and steel building today, grabbed the microphone and stated his case. “I’m of two minds,” he said. “Psychologically, rebuilding those towers would be a great act of revenge. Then again, we cannot erase what has happened. Maybe it would be more appropriate to build something in memory of the attacks.”

SECRET CEREMONY: “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” — but a J. Lo wedding certainly does. For her secret nuptials Saturday night to choreographer boyfriend Chris Judd, Jennifer Lopez chose a private estate nestled in the Santa Monica hills of California. Around 250 family members and friends were shuttled to the hush-hush location just outside of Calabasas. Security was tight at the hilltop mansion, as a sheriff’s helicopter hovered above.
Lopez, who’s about to launch her own clothing line, turned to Valentino for her gown. She contacted the designer while he was vacationing on his yacht off Ibiza in August with a simple request — that the dress be princess-style and couture quality. After several sketches and a few phone conversations, the Latin diva chose a dramatic, off-white Chantilly lace and silk gown with a layered skirt and cascading tulle veil. The look may seem fairytale, but this is J. Lo, and sexiness is an absolute must.
Valentino responded to that requirement with a plunging V-neck decolletage and a low-cut back. Lopez wore her hair in a chignon with two cream-colored roses on each side, which toned in with the hundreds of cream and beige rose petals that blanketed the aisle.
Valentino also created the beige silk chiffon gowns for the seven bridesmaids and put the men, including the best man — Lopez’s manager Benny Medina — in custom-made Valentino morning suits.
The couple, who met last year while working on her video, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” exchanged vows as the sun began to set and the moon started to rise. Following the brief ceremony, guests were escorted to an enormous white tent filled with hundreds of roses and gardenias, all done up in cream, beige and silver. “The scent knocked you over as soon as you entered,” said one insider. It didn’t take long for the music and dancing to get underway. Guests hit the white parquet dance floor before Lopez and Judd arrived, but made room when it came time for the newlyweds to perform a special salsa number. Not seeming encumbered for a moment, Lopez simply flipped the train over her arm, and showed why she’s a pro.
The couple is said to be honeymooning in Italy and are expected at the Versace show in Milan on Tuesday. Afterwards, Donatella Versace is organizing a special dinner party for the two at her villa in Lake Como.

PRADA PRESSURE: Prada has joined the chorus of luxury conglomerates singing the blues over a rapidly slowing global economy. Prada chief Patrizio Bertelli said that the firm’s New York stores saw sales plummet 40 percent after the September 11 terrorist attacks, while in Los Angeles and San Francisco sales dipped 20 percent. “But there are already signs of improvement on the West Coast,” he added. Indeed, he predicted that the group’s 2001 sales would top last year’s, which were $1.39 billion. As reported, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Gucci Group and Richemont have all issued profit warnings in recent weeks.

MENKES AT THE MIKE: Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, has begun juggling pen, computer — and microphone. The veteran reporter with the trademark hair flip is freelancing for Bloomberg television, doing one-on-one interviews with top fashion figures. “I’ve always been interested in the financial and business aspects of fashion, and in working in television,” said Menkes after interviewing Giorgio Armani on camera at his new show space. “And I hope to bring my understanding of the industry and its players to Bloomberg.” Asked how Bloomberg discovered her, Menkes quipped, “I guess they recognized my hairstyle.”

HAIR SCARE: It was a moment of near-Biblical proportions on Saturday night at the Four Seasons when Gisele Bundchen watched Orlando Pita chop off the tresses that had helped make her famous. “I was so scared! I could hardly look in the mirror while he was doing it,” said Gisele before the Dolce & Gabbana show. “I like long hair; I’ve had it all my life. It used to be down to my waist.” Pita cut her hair shoulder-length, more even than choppy, with a lot of volume. The effect? “My head and neck feel lighter, and when I shampoo, I feel like something’s missing.” No one’s noticed yet — she’s only worked for Dolce & Gabbana, and Pita put her hair in a chignon there. And it’s doubtful that she’ll run into Samson’s problem in the near future.

A FRIEND IN NEED: Six months ago, snowstorms kept Lil’ Kim from appearing in Versace’s front row. This time around, neither storm, nor sleet nor terrorist threats would keep her away from her friend Donatella Versace. On Saturday, the singer flew to Milan for the Versus show and then turned around and went back to New York on Sunday. “Donatella has always supported me, so I came here for her,” said Lil’ Kim before the show. “We’ve all gotta keep moving forward, keep living. This is a very unfortunate time for everyone around the world. We’ve all been touched by these events and are in a state of shock. But we have to remember to have fun.”