DANCES WITH WOLVES: Is Kal Ruttenstein the new Kevin Costner? The Bloomingdale’s fashion director arrived early enough to Alexander McQueen’s show Saturday night to watch a rehearsal, including the first exit with a model walking two wolves on a leash. Taking advantage of the photo-op, Ruttenstein directed a quick shoot of himself with two beasts to use for the cover of one of his upcoming internal trend reports. There were some hair-raising moments. “The wolves were fighting with each other, and acting up,” said Ruttenstein. “At one point, the handlers asked me, ‘You don’t have any food on you, do you?”‘

BALMAIN BOYCOTT: There were two shows at Balmain on Sunday: the debut collection by Laurent Mercier on the pink runway and pandemonium in the photo pit after photographers walked out in protest over the tight quarters. Television cameramen stayed put, but were heckled loudly by print photographers as the models paraded glumly. “These things happen,” shrugged Balmain managing director Georgina Brandolini. She said a third row of chairs in front of the photographers were added at the last minute and that’s what put them over the edge.

HE’S MAD: Nino Cerruti has a bone to pick with Fin.part, the Italian firm that acquired his house last year. “They’re driving it into the ground,” he complained at the Lanvin show. “They’re like a bunch of truck drivers who have inherited the keys to a Ferrari and have yet to learn how to drive such a sophisticated machine — no offense to truck drivers.” Cerruti contended that Fin.part has forsaken the values on which the house was built. “Their conduct is incomprehensible to me,” he said. Cerruti’s temper boiled over when he confronted employees from the house’s Paris headquarters who were protesting at the entrance to the Lanvin show. Last week, Fin.part said it laid off 32 of the 90 employees at the Cerruti headquarters in Paris, mostly in the design studio, as part of cost-saving measures. “Some of those people had been there for 15 years,” ranted Cerruti. “I built the house on human values, which have been abandoned. They’re ruining the house’s heritage.”

MICK AT NIGHT: It was a lippy moment backstage at the Lagerfeld Gallery collection Friday when Mick Jagger showed up to congratulate Karl Lagerfeld. The paparazzi hauled out their narrow-angle lenses to photograph the slim dudes. Lagerfeld himself recently lensed Jagger for the cover of his new solo album. Later that same night, Jagger showed up unexpectedly at a joint birthday dinner at 20 Rue Bellechasse for Amy Spindler of the New York Times Magazine, Interview editor in chief Ingrid Sischy and Yves Saint Laurent president Mark Lee. Jagger showed up hungry, but without a seat at the intimate dinner. No matter. Sischy gave up her seat and the rocker tucked into her plate.

SLIP-SLIDING AWAY: In a gasp-inducing encore to the famous model spill at Gucci in Milan, models at the Lagerfeld Gallery show on Friday looked like they were walking on ice. Rounding a corner, Natasha Vojnobic took a slide, pitching forward as if she had come out of a botched double axel. Jacquetta Wheeler barely made it through the portal when she lost her grip and her legs buckled. “I’m getting a drink. I really need it,” she said backstage, making her way to the champagne table for a mid-day aperitif. She stopped to chat with Carmen Kass, who also verged on a wipeout and the two compared notes like Olympic athletes.

TRUE BLUE: Tilda Swinton, who wore Viktor & Rolf to the Golden Globes, has an eerie connection with the designers. After their show Saturday night, the star of such films as “Orlando” and “The Deep End” said: “I feel like I’ve just seen most of the costumes I’ve ever worn.” Not that she considers the designers’ work to be in any way old-fashioned. “It’s so modern, so art-literate. They’ve just given us an Yves Klein show,” she said of their bluer than blue threads. “They’re educating the front row.” Swinton starts work next week on “Young Adam” with Ewan McGregor, a film based on the cult novel by Alexander Trocchi.

LENNY AND JOHN: John Galliano, about to launch a signature men’s wear line, has found his muse: Lenny Kravitz. Dressed in fur and rough-hewn shearling and looking like a male version of the Eskimo hotties prowling Galliano’s runway Sunday night, Kravitz said backstage that the designer will dress him for his upcoming tour, which kicks off in April and hits the U.S. this summer. “He’s genius,” the rocker said of Galliano. “That show was beyond fashion. It was mad.” For his part, Galliano chose Kravitz because he’s, well, “very Galliano.” But without a Galliano men’s line, what does the designer wear? At the Dior show last week, he took his bow in a suit by Dolce & Gabbana, Italian designers with a similar spirit. “They always look after me,” he said.

GOLDIN GIRL: Nan Goldin, known for her downbeat photographs of life’s darker elements, is moving in lighter circles this week. She is shooting backstage at a handful of shows for V magazine. “I’m really curious about these master flashes the beauty photographers are using,” offered Goldin. “Here I am still shooting with my old, manual Leica.” The models’ fragility also intrigues Goldin. “It breaks my heart: Some of the girls are so beautiful. They’re so tall and slim, like giraffes. They have really interesting faces, full of such innocence.” But Goldin has a gripe with the fashion world. “There’s only one type of body. A lot of women, myself included, cannot identify with fashion and fashion magazines. The girls are so skinny. It doesn’t make many women feel good.”

MONTANA, PARIS: Claude Montana has new ambitions and a little less of Claude. Last year French industrialist Jean Jacques Layani purchased the house and recently tapped Beatrice Bongibault — who has held top managerial jobs at Valentino, Escada and Chanel — as chief executive officer to help revamp the house. The collection to be shown here on Tuesday is the first under her stewardship and the first output from a new design team led by Laurent Layani, Jean Jacques’ 26-year-old son. Bongibault said Montana remains artistic director, but only as an outside consultant. “To achieve what we have in mind, we need a full time team working all of the time,” said Bongibault. “Claude stops by from time to time. We want to draw on the brand’s heritage, but make it more feminine and more modern.”

VISITING DIGNITARY: In town to christen a new Collezioni store on the Avenue George V, Giorgio Armani said he yearned for the creative license of Paris. “Look at Gaultier and Galliano, they can get away with anything. It’s well done, but it’s over the top.” Armani, who garnered mixed reviews for his Milan show, said he felt fashion critics weren’t cutting him enough slack. “The critics are very tough on me,” he complained. “I feel they limit me to doing wearable elegance and tradition. But, for God’s sake, I’m a designer. I need to express myself creatively. I think if I showed in Paris it would be different. The reception would be different.” The designer staged a mini-show of 40 evening gowns for clients Sunday night to coincide with the opening of the store. Later he was scheduled to host a party — Kate Hudson, Yohji Yamamoto and Claudia Cardinale were among those expected. Today, Armani is expected to attend Stella McCartney’s show. “She’s a sweet girl,” said Armani, explaining that the two meet last year and have since cultivated a friendship.

Meanwhile, Armani responded to a compliment LVMH chief Bernard Arnault paid him at an analysts’ meeting on Friday. Arnault said LVMH would like to base the Donna Karan business on the Armani model. “That’s a great compliment,” said Armani. “If I was Arnault, I would do the same thing.” But Armani cautioned that it takes more than just good intentions to succeed. “I don’t know if it’s really possible to emulate the success of Armani today. Things were different when I started. You have to be creative, but ultimately it isn’t about the press. It’s about designing for people in the street.”

Also, Armani hinted that he’s thinking of a partnership with a luxury goods company in order to expand his manufacturing capacities in the accessories division. But sources say it probably won’t be with one of the majors; he’s more likely to look at a small company with solid high-end factories.

WISH LIST: Mounir Moufarrige, chief executive of the upstart fashion conglomerate France Luxury Group, is making it plain what brands he’s scouting. He attended the shows of Leonard and Balmain over the weekend, and announced his intentions to go to Rochas on Wednesday “I like brands with roots and these all have roots,” he said. Moufarrige’s stable comprises Scherrer, Jacques Fath, Emannuelle Khanh and the shoe firm Harel and has his eye on Courreges and Givenchy, too.

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