SEMANTICALLY SPEAKING: Though Hedi Slimane seems content with all things Dior and says he has no plans to launch a men’s collection under his own label or to do a women’s line, it’s all semantics. Fashion’s international “It” boy, who likens Williamsburg Brooklyn to Berlin, is in town this week to shoot Dior’s fall “men’s” collection with Richard Avedon. Slimane brought along slick suits cut small enough for women, unisex jewelry and a buffed leather bag with a silver chain handle that most people would call a purse. “It’s not men or women. It’s not androgyny,” the designer says. “It’s about the clothes.” Just ask Catherine Deneuve, who wore one of his suits to the men’s ready-to-wear show in Paris.
SHOPPING SPREE: Should former President Clinton actually move into those Harlem offices, he may be able to take care of all his wardrobe needs right down the street. That’s if N, a mammoth 26,000-square-foot designer and contemporary store opens on schedule this fall in Morningside Heights, next door to the uptown Fairway. “We’re targeting a September-October opening,” said Larry Ortiz, formerly of Barneys New York and Jeffrey, who is one of the partners in the venture. The interior of the former meat-smoking facility at 125 Street and 12th Avenue is being designed by the retail architecture firm Kramer Hutchinson and Jack Travis Architect, a Harlem-based company. Ortiz’s other partners are Nikoa Evans, who has worked at the Limited and at the Rouse Co., Lenn Shebar, a nonprofit executive, and Hank Williams, the founder of Clickradio.com (and no relation to the country-music family). “It’s a big project, both because of the location and the size,” said Ortiz. “But we’re hoping to make this a new force in city retailing.”
DOG DAY AFTERNOON: It turns out that extreme fashion, uber-hairdos and outlandish makeup aren’t confined to the tents at Bryant Park — or even to human beings. On Monday, after the Carolina Herrera presentation, Jamee Gregory raced over to Madison Square Garden to meet Karen LeFrak at the Westminster Dog Show: Painted doggy nails, tweezed doggy brows and elaborate doggy blowouts swept their way down the makeshift runway. “It was more high-maintenance than the models,” Gregory said afterward. For Lefrak, it was expected: her poodle, Mikimoto, is a past grand champion.
POPPING UP: Muffie Potter Aston and Nina Griscom were among the guests at the 57th Street Chanel store for the launch of Isabelle de Borchgrave’s new book, “Fashion a la Mode,” a pop-up history of fashion. De Borchgrave gave each of the women a necklace made from 17th-century parchment. Griscom thanked the artist for her neckwear, and then pointed to de Borchgrave’s vintage Chanel brooch, a star encrusted with diamonds.
“I like that very much,” she said. Pointing to her lapel, Griscom added: “That would look perfect right here.”
PLAID CITY: Burberry’s brand extension continues. At a press preview for its Burberry London collection on Tuesday, the company revealed two new products featuring its signature plaid — a luxury children’s line that will hit stores for fall and features shearling coats and plaid duffel coats and, get this, a Burberry Barbie. For its take on the legendary doll, Burberry outfitted Barbie with a plaid skirt and classic trench, plus a plaid messenger bag, and, mysteriously, red hair. A reference to Eugenia Ulasewicz, president of the company’s North American division, perhaps?
“That was pure coincidence,” the redhead replied.
JUNIOR LEAGUE: By the looks of the celebrity crowd at Badgley Mischka on Monday, the designers are after a younger — much younger — crowd. There were tele-twins Tia and Tamera Mowry, Jennifer Love Hewitt, who turns 21 next week, and Tori Spelling, who appears to be gunning for the Sarah Jessica Parker Award for Best Attendance at Fashion Week.
The Mowry twins, who starred in the WB series “Sister, Sister,” are currently studying psychology at Pepperdine University and like to wear Badgley Mischka to movie premieres and black-tie affairs, although they hit the malls for their daytime clothes. Hewitt likes fashion for its transcendental qualities. “I think that the best part of my job is that I get to escape reality and be someone else,” the actress said. “Fashion can be like that; I can define whatever I feel by what I wear.”
ROLE PLAYING: Alan Cumming has a lot on his plate these days, so don’t fault him for bowing out of a bit part in Cynthia Rowley’s circus-themed fashion show on Monday. But he made it into the audience anyway, by skipping his dinner break from rehearsals for Noel Coward’s “Design for Living,” which begins previews on Saturday. He’s got three films in the works, plus the July release of “The Anniversary Party,” which he co-directed with Jennifer Jason Leigh, and he’s writing a novel called “Tommy’s Tale” for Harper Collins that’s due in the fall.
“I like the theater of fashion, and Cynthia has embraced the full spectacle of it all,” Cumming said. Proving his point, he pulled off the fleece sweatshirt he was wearing to reveal a black muscle tank printed with profanities, including a missive on the back that told those approaching from behind what they could do with themselves. Ever the gentleman, though, Cumming apologized to the guest seated directly behind him.
DUKE’S NEW VENUE: Randolph Duke has a new gig going. He just inked a deal with Home Shopping Network, a division of USA Networks Inc., to develop an exclusive apparel, footwear and accessories line called “The Look by Randolph Duke” that will debut on the network in August. The clothes include moderate-to-better-priced sportswear, knitwear and evening separates.
“They had approached me,” said Duke. “It’s definitely my strategy to reach women, and TV is that medium. My goal is to make women look beautiful. This is a medium that allows us to explain things to women.”
He said there’s no conflict between his designer collection and The Look. It’s not a diffusion line; it’s a completely different range of products. “The Look is based on me interpreting the hot looks of the moment, such as the crocodile or embossed trenchcoat, or the faux fur shrug or clutch bag.” Duke will design and present the line, as well as appear on the network to help women create their own personal style.
“We’re looking at building a large business with no parameters or boundaries,” said Duke, adding that the deal could conceivably expand to makeup and skin care.