FASHION SCOOPS

AIR FRANCE: In the jetsetting tradition of Pucci, LVMH has reserved a Gulfstream to fly a group of friends of Julio Espada, Pucci’s new design director, from Paris to Milan in time for his debut show on Monday. The passenger list includes Marc Jacobs, Gerard Depardieu, Carole Bouquet, Katell Le Bourhis — and possibly Bianca Jagger.

ELBAZ BUZZ: Although he isn’t attached to any fashion house at the moment, Alber Elbaz’s name is on many lips. The word around Milan is that Elbaz is being eyed by British luxury retailer Asprey & Garrard, which has ambitious plans to expand beyond silver, leather goods and jewelry into luxury clothing. Reached in Paris, Elbaz had no comment. Meanwhile, his name is still being mentioned in connection with Givenchy, which is seeking a replacement for Alexander McQueen, and Chloe, which could be in search mode soon if Stella McCartney doesn’t renew and heads to Gucci instead.

SOLID GOLD: Forget magazine covers. Album covers can also move merchandise. Just ask Italian jewelry designer Laura Cardillo, whose ghetto-fabulous gold fringe jewelry is worn by Jennifer Lopez on her number-one album “J.Lo.” “When I designed this collection in 1997, I received a lot of press coverage, but very few stores caught on to it,” Cardillo said. “But since the album release, my sales have gone up 50 percent.” Her jewelry is currently available at such stores as Barneys New York, Ron Herman/Fred Segal and Fragments.

OPEN UP: Gilmar and Marni both unveiled new spaces in the city center this week. Gilmar christened its new show space, La Pelota, on Thursday night with the Iceberg show. The company, which also produces Victor Alfaro’s collection, spent 2 1/2 years restoring La Pelota, a former jai alai court, and plans to use it for shows and for exhibitions and cultural events as well. While the 27,000-square-foot space on via Palermo may sparkle with painstakingly restored mosaic tiles, some signs of La Pelota’s past life remain: the red walls and neon lights in the entranceway, the cathedral windows — and, of course, the scoreboards.
Earlier in the week, Marni opened a store that is barely bigger than a doll’s house with pink walls, a mirrored ceiling and quirky, curved clothing racks. The store, on via San Andrea, is the first in a series of openings scheduled for this year — doors in New York, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong are set to open by 2002. The store is expected to do $1.5 million in sales during its first year, but Marni chief Gianni Castiglioni said sales have already surpassed expectations.