A LATERAL MOVE? Rumors were swirling all weekend that Loewe designer Narciso Rodriguez, who has turned up at shows for all the other LVMH houses, might be making a lateral move at the luxury group. One scenario had him landing at Givenchy, which has been dogged by speculation, repeatedly denied by the company, that Alexander McQueen might not renew his contract, which expires at the end of 2001. Both Rodriguez and Givenchy officials denied the rumor again on Sunday. “There is nothing changing,” said Yves Carcelle, head of LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division.

IT’S FETE: Leave it to Donatella Versace to pull in all the big guns to her atelier — and then get the fashion and celebrity pack partying until dawn. It was, after all, Saturday night. At the show, the front-row lineup included Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Jennifer Lopez and Milla Jovovich, Afterwards, it was off to the Philippe Starck restaurant Bon for cool gazpacho and hot tunes by Boy George.
Around 1 a.m., the pack moved on to Les Bains Douche to celebrate the launch of Combs’s first women’s collection, geared to the 18 to 34 crowd, which will be unveiled in February in New York. “I’ve been coming to Paris regularly for the last few seasons, and I think there’s a great fashion vibe here,” Combs said. “The excitement is so high, I wanted to launch my women’s line here.” Certainly, spirits were soaring and Cristal was flowing freely at Les Bains, with Puffy on deck and at the microphone, urging the crowd to “drink the bar dry.” Lopez grooved from her banquette perch all night, arms waving above her head as if conducting the chaos around her. Mel Gibson, patriot to the beat, succumbed to a frenzy of table dancing. “It was madness,” said Jovovich, confessing that it took her half an hour to fight her way to the exit.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: It was all smiles, more or less, backstage at Christian Dior when Hedi Slimane, the house’s new men’s wear designer, was united with couturier John Galliano for a photo op after Galliano’s twisted Freudian family romp. Earlier, Galliano had swept aside rumblings that any friction had developed between the two heavyweight talents over a newspaper article suggesting that Slimane, who accrued a female following for his Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche men’s wear, might introduce “masculine haute couture” that would also be available for women. Galliano thought the suggestion amusing but untrue and insisted that there’s no rift. “I’m a fan,” he said. “I’ve been wearing his clothes for years.”

YOUNG AT HEART: What will Tom Ford do at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche? Based on reports from European specialty stores and YSL boutique managers who have placed orders for the resort collection, Ford is driving the legendary brand in a youthful direction with designs that are sexier and, in some cases, less expensive. “I think it’s a good idea,” said Sara Beratine, owner of Alexandra Verona in Verona, Italy, who praised the line’s youthful direction and a “very pretty” range of handbags. The manager at one YSL boutique in Paris, queried about the new arrivals, said the store is expecting lots of leather, jackets with prominent shoulders, trousers and swimsuits. Meanwhile, YSL officials remain tight-lipped about the resort line, describing it as a mini-collection intended to keep the stores filled. Ford’s full vision won’t be known until the spring 2001 collection is unveiled in October in Paris.

ALL ABOARD: And the prize for the dress with the longest train in the couture goes to — drumroll, please — Christian Lacroix, who was asked to outfit the new high-speed train linking Paris and Marseilles. The designer train, dressed in gypsy colors, photos, and quotes from writers like Albert Camus, was unveiled on Friday at the Gare de Lyon. The train will wear its Lacroix colors for the three-hour run for six months. “It was a special project because my grandfather and my great-grandfather both worked on the railroad,” the designer said.

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