AU CONTRAIRE, GRAY LADY: An item in Tuesday’s New York Times suggested that, while correct in spirit, WWD was wrong in fact in reporting that Stefano Pilati’s debut Yves Saint Laurent collection tread a line “between the Saint Laurent archive and mid-80’s 530 Seventh Avenue.” The Times put the address at 550 Seventh Avenue, and ran as evidence a Bill Cunningham photograph of a late-Sixties Norman Norell coat alongside a quite similar Pilati coat. Thanks for the directions, folks, but we meant what we said. 550 Seventh Avenue is the traditional residence of the elite of American design — Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, among others. On the other hand, Eighties-era 530 was populated by meat-and-potatoes types, many of whom churned out knock-offs of knock-offs of knock-offs.

But enough. We’ve made the point, as has the Times: Stefano’s first collection — not so hot. Which is not unusual under the circumstances. None other than Pilati’s predecessor, Tom Ford, called his own maiden Saint Laurent outing a mere palate-cleanser. And in Monday’s WWD, Marc Jacobs made a similar point about such first-collection futility. “You’re just settling in and clearing your thoughts,” he said. “You really get started with the second collection.” So enough with reviewing the reviews. Here’s to fall ’05 chez Saint Laurent.

LUNCHING WITH THE REGULAR PEOPLE: Speaking of 550 Seventh Avenue, seeing a First Lady or a potential one in the elevator there has become somewhat common these days, given the multiple appearances of Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry at campaign functions, both often wearing suits they picked up from Oscar de la Renta. But Heinz Kerry created quite a stir in the building on Tuesday morning, not when she turned up at de la Renta’s for a fitting, but rather when she stopped for a casual lunch at the New Star Deli — the same place where countless Garment Center workers pick up their coffee and muffins every morning. According to office workers who saw her munching away, there were security guards stationed at both the hot and cold food buffets. At least it wasn’t McDonald’s.

This story first appeared in the October 20, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.