SCOOP

Byline: Jeane MacIntosh

VAL’S PLACE: Valentino has more closets to fill. Word from across the pond is that the designer shelled out about $12 million for an eight-bedroom house in west London’s Holland Park, where he’ll be closer to the likes of photo dealer Tim Jeffries, Lady Anoushka Weinberg and Sir Richard Branson. The new digs could explain why Valentino seemed so interested in the offerings at the ultra-exclusive European Fine Arts Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands, a few weeks ago. He reportedly plunked down a lotta lire for some fancy antique mirrors. Valentino will presumably help fund his new pad with the sale of his Colefax & Fowler-decorated house in Egerton Crescent in Knightsbridge, which he bought more than a decade ago.

SKIN TRADE: “Sheena” star Gena Lee Nolin — who gave everyone an eyeful during her “Baywatch” days — has taken it all off for PETA. The jungle queen curls up naked on a tree limb, her body painted as a snake, for the animal rights gang’s first anti-exotic skin campaign. Nolin reportedly spent seven hours being painted into her snakeskin, and took a couple of naps during the process. The ad, aimed at protecting snakes, crocs and other critters, is entitled “Exotic Skins Belong in the Jungle — Not in Your Closet.”

FASHION EMERGENCY: Production on NBC’s “ER” was held up the other day when Maura Tierney, who plays nurse-turned-resident Abby Lockhart, wandered away from shooting and took guest star Sally Field with her into the Chicago Barneys. Seems Tierney needed a shopping fix right that very minute. Producers were not amused — and sent a posse to bring Field and Tierney (happily clutching a stash of B. Kamins Chemist “Day Cream,” say spies) back to the set.

BIG SHOES: Longtime Polo Ralph Lauren flack Lynn Tesoro is proving a hard act to follow. Ralph himself was none too happy to see her go — after all, she’d been there five years and knew the drill — and Scoop hears the designer has since interviewed a bevy of top public relations pros, none of whom has been signed. One of the flies in the ointment, spies say, is that Polo’s legendarily generous salaries (think half-a-mil, easy) are no longer as high as they used to be. Head honcho Roger Farah has apparently tightened the purse strings, much to internal dismay.

WORD IS: …that even strong-shouldered Oprah Winfrey needs support — she just requested (and been sent, pronto!) the new Playtex “Only You” bra for her own use. The seamless number won’t be available to the hoi polloi until June.+that the folks at “Hello Kitty” asked fun-loving designer Cynthia Rowley to create a line of handbags, but Rowley gave it a pass. Among other things, Rowley’s busy trying to get a product line based on her book, “Swell: A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life” into Target stores, where, incidentally, “Hello Kitty” merch is selling like crazy to the under-10 set+.that actress Brittany Murphy was no sooner turned on by pal Winona Ryder to the fab undies offered by Araks than she rang the designer and ordered one of everything in every color, to the tune of $800 wholesale….that’s not just any old gum Sarah Jessica Parker and her “Sex and the City” cohorts are chomping on the show — the cast gets downright prickly if somebody forgets to replenish the big stash of Origins Peace of Mind gumballs kept onset+.that Alstyle Apparel, which makes Nike and Old Navy T-shirts, is getting considerable heat from a tony Chicago neighborhood where it wants to set up a new plant. Seems chichi residents don’t want a factory in their midst, even though it would bring several hundred new jobs to the area.

FASHION BYTES: Former First Girlfriend-turned-fashionista Monica Lewinsky, blowing air-kisses to Marie Claire editrix Glenda Bailey at Nicole Farhi during the Adweek/Cathleen Black bash honoring Bailey as Editor of the Year….Celine Dion — obviously not convinced that winter is over — warming herself in a fur frock at J. Mendel on Madison Ave….First Lady Laura Bush, continuing to sing the praises of designer Michael Faircloth at the Seventeen/Cover Girl Volunteerism Awards in D.C. Bush was decked out in a Faircloth lavender long-sleeved, square-necked shift and matching coat.

JUST CAUSE(S): French designer Emanuel Ungaro — who just opened a flagship store on London’s New Bond Street — will do his bit for BritArt by sponsoring the summer gala at Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery. The June 28 bash toasts the gallery’s new annual architecture installation, the first of which is by hot architect Daniel Libeskind (he did Berlin’s Jewish Museum and the upcoming extension to the Victoria & Albert Museum). Ungaro and Libeskind will each decorate a moped, to be auctioned off to raise money for the Serpentine, and Libeskind is designing a limited edition silk scarf, which Ungaro will print and sell in its stores.
Speaking of the Victoria & Albert Museum, it’ll run an homage to modern designers, “Radical Fashion,” from Oct. 18 to Jan. 6, 2002. The exhibit will showcase Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Helmut Lang, Rei Kawakubo, Martin Margiela, Hussein Chalayan, Junya Watanabe, Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaia, Issey Miyake and Vivienne Westwood. The designers will use moving images, oversize photos, lifesize holograms and touchable fabric panels to show off their creative processes.

RANCH DRESSING: Just because her adman husband’s “retired” to run a buffalo farm doesn’t mean Allure editor-at-large Joan Kron has turned into a country bumpkin. Au contraire. On weekends, the ageless beauty (who apparently likes all that farm muck) hits the Pennsylvania spread decked out in her own version of rancher chic, starting with the big black 10-gallon cowboy hat she bought on a trip with socialite adventuress Sandy Pittman. “She’s head-to-toe black,” says an admirer. “Black hat, black sunglasses, black ‘cutting’ boots, black down-filled parka.” The updated farmwear gets lots of attention, says the source: “The other rancher wives just look at her aghast.”

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of Scoop, written by Jeane MacIntosh. MacIntosh will be a regular columnist for WWD.com, the upcoming online edition of WWD. She will also periodically appear in the newspaper. MacIntosh can be reached at industrydish@wwd.com.

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