CK, GFT SPLIT: In a move to take back direct control of his collection businesses, Calvin Klein last week said he would sever ties with his longtime men’s Collection licensee, GFT Net. GFT’s license for the U.S. Collection and CK Calvin Klein business will be allowed to expire in June, and the license for the business outside the U.S. — which was to run through 2006 — will be terminated at the end of this year. Klein said he was pleased “at the opportunity to regain ownership of this category, especially at this moment when men are dressing up again.” GFT’s parent company, Milan-based Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali, described the move as in line with its strategy to exit the fashion business and focus on publishing. The first Calvin Klein Inc.-produced collection goods will ship for spring 2003; the company plans to relicense the affected CK Calvin Klein lines.
MORE FIGHTIN’ WORDS: LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton may have star brands, but what about its black holes? That’s the latest missive directed by Gucci Group chief executive Domenico De Sole at his archrival, LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault. Last week in these columns, De Sole boasted that his group would be the first to have two brands of equal stature: Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Arnault retorted that De Sole is way behind since LVMH has “four or five star brands: Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Hennessy, Moet Chandon.” But on Saturday night at the Alexander McQueen show, De Sole had this to add: “When Mr. Arnault listed his four or five star brands, he forgot a few: Phillips, Europeatweb, Libertysurf and Sephora,” he quipped, referring not-so-subtly to Arnault’s more trying business ventures.
TIMES OUT: Some designers in Paris have been rolling out the unwelcome mat to fashion critics from The New York Times. Ginia Bellafante slipped into the Yohji Yamamoto show last Thursday with Cathy Horyn’s ticket. But once in her seat, she was told she wasn’t invited because of what she wrote about Yamamoto’s collection last season. “There is always a place for Mr. Yamamoto’s quiet poetry, but sometimes you can’t help feeling that life is too short,” her review said. “[It] took longer to sit through than some works of Noh theatre.” A spokeswoman for Yamamoto said Bellafante’s words were disrespectful and nasty. “We were upset and we’ve had some pain from the last article,” she said. But Bellafante stayed put, saying, “The Times decides who writes the reviews.” Later, she added, “Funny enough, I actually liked the collection for the first time in a while.” Her Yamamoto review appeared Sunday. The Times also has prickly relations with Comme des Garcons and Junya Watanabe, who have long been “stingy” with seats, according to Horyn. Meanwhile, there was an icy moment at the Azzedine Alaia party for Miuccia Prada on Saturday when Horyn crossed paths with Jil Sander creative director Milan Vukmirovic. Given that Horyn described his fall collection as “appalling,” the two avoided eye contact.
POST FASHION: With the Yves Saint Laurent saga behind him, Pierre Berge is moving on to greener pastures. Berge said he is writing a book about the famous people he has known. “Except Yves,” offered the legendary couturier’s business partner at the Lanvin show. “I think I know him too well.” He didn’t offer details, but the colorful cast he could include ranges from Andy Warhol to former French president Francois Mitterand. Meanwhile, Berge said he has yet to abandon hopes to gain control of Drouot. As reported, an offer he made to buy the dusty Paris auction house was rebuffed last month. In his typical never-say-die manner, though, Berge said they have yet to find a buyer: “They may just yet realize how much I have to offer. It’s not over yet.”
MIUCCIA MADNESS: Azzedine Alaia’s party for Miuccia Prada on Saturday night at his Marais headquarters felt more like a reunion for its guest of honor. “I don’t come to Paris that often, but I should. There are so many people here I know,” she said, seated at a table off the dance floor to receive her guests. Designers came out in force, including Rei Kawakubo, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ennio Capasa of Costume National and Milan Vukmirovic of Jil Sander. While rocker Chrissie Hynde and Von Furstenberg talked music and fashion in a quieter side room, the French tycoon Francois Pinault, who controls Gucci Group, was in the middle of the dance floor. “I need to observe and see what this world is all about. I have to keep up with what’s happening in it,” he said. “I’m in the business now; and it’s an insider’s world. You have to keep up with the beat.”