DEGREES OF SEPARATION: Jil may have left Sander, and Helmut may have left Lang, but fear not: There is no risk of Azzedine Alaïa leaving his fashion house. “It’s going very well,” Alaïa declared Tuesday, reiterating his strong rapport with Prada Group, which purchased 100 percent of his company in 2000, a year after it snapped up Sander and Lang in a bid to build a multibrand luxury group. Alaïa, while presenting a chic new line of suede shoes and crocodile bags for pre-fall made by Prada, stressed his independence is respected — and sales continue to mount. What’s more, he’s in the throes of developing a signature fragrance, searching for an eyewear partner — and collecting industry kudos. Come May 24, he’ll fly to San Francisco as guest of honor at the graduation show for the School of Fashion and Merchandising at the Academy of Art University. There, he will be bestowed with an honorary doctorate.

A SUZY Q: Paris is a big, cosmopolitan city, and certainly big enough for two high-profile fashion scribes who both work for The New York Times Co. Asked for her reaction to the news this week that Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn is relocating to Paris next year, International Herald Tribune fashion editor Suzy Menkes was unfazed. “I don’t know anything about it. She hasn’t shared her plans with me,” Menkes said, adding: “There’s lots of stories to be done out of Paris.”

GRACE NOTES: Vogue creative director Grace Coddington has collaborated with Magnum Photos, selecting 100 images from the agency’s archive to run all this week in a continuous slide show on the billboard above New York’s Port Authority building on 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. The images, by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Martine Franck, Philippe Halsman, Bruno Barbey and Eve Arnold, will change every six seconds.

“They look like fashion pictures, but they aren’t,” said Coddington, who herself is a longtime collector of photography. “I looked for pictures that make me smile…There are a lot of animal pictures, which I love,” she added. The grouping, in fact, includes an image of a llama getting out of a taxi cab, as well as a tiny chihuahua wearing a hat.

This story first appeared in the February 2, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I really always just like to see humor,” Coddington explained. “Charm, humor, something a little crazy.

“There are also portraits of old movie stars, like James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, Joan Crawford,” she added, “painters like Georgia O’Keeffe — people whose work and way of thinking I love, like Peggy Guggenheim. There’s a famous picture of her sitting in her house in Venice with her crazy glasses on. I chose a lot of personalities but not the kind of personalities we see today. I looked for people who really made a difference, mostly in the art world.”

SPANISH NIGHT: Alejandro Amenabar’s movie “Mar Adentro,” known in English as “The Sea Inside,” bagged a record 14 Goyas — including best director, best film, best actor (doe-eyed Javier Bardem) and best actress (Lola Dueñas) — at Sunday’s ceremony held at Madrid’s Palacio de Congresos. Despite a bitter cold snap, the worst in 20 years reportedly, a die-hard crowd turned up for the Spanish “Oscars,” including las hermanas CruzPenelope in a black Chanel halter dress and her sister Monica, a local TV star, also in black with a perilous décolletage; Geraldine Chaplin, pretty dazzling (it’s the smile) in apple-green Sybilla, and Sonsoles Espinosa, wife of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Zapatero, in a bare-shouldered dress by Madrid fur designer and retailer Elena Benarroch. The night’s big loser was Pedro Almodovar, whose “Bad Education,” up for four Goyas, got none — and the ribald film director was a no-show.

BOOK MARKED: When it comes to show invitations, fashion houses have gone to outlandish lengths to stand out —remember the condoms Luca Luca sent out last year? But this week, invitees were treated to a bit of literary history when they opened their invitation to the DKNY show on Monday at the legendary Algonquin Hotel. Roughly 350 special guests were treated to old hard-cover books commemorating the famed Algonquin Round Table. Bookmarks in each book hinted at the upcoming show: a DKNY cocktail napkin, a card from the Algonquin Hotel, a bookmark introducing Matilda, the Algonquin Cat, and a card with an Al Hirschfeld cartoon featuring Round Table alums such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woolcott, Heywood Broun and Edna Ferber, among others.

“We tried to locate as many books as we could,” said Patti Cohen, executive vice president of global marketing and communications for Donna Karan International. Titles by a number of authors, such as Dickens, were used as invites. “We wanted the writers and the books to be represented. Unfortunately, we couldn’t give everyone a book,” said Cohen.

FRONT ROW PIGS: A-list Muppet Miss Piggy will make a fashion week appearance Friday. The porcine princess is scheduled to sit in the front row at the Heatherette show and will even be wearing a fall 2005 Heatherette outfit for the special occasion. Design duo Richie Rich and Traver Rains entertained the doll in their Seventh Street atelier in New York on Tuesday and fitted her with a clown jersey outfit inspired by dresses in the ice-skating show Ice Capades, in which Rich once participated. “It’s very much from my past and future and very glamorous,” he quipped during the fitting. Miss Piggy, like many stars, declined comment.

FREE FOR ALL: Song Airlines has swept in to sponsor As Four’s Feb. 11 runway show at Gotham Hall. Song’s creative director Andy Spade made the connection, since he and his wife, Kate, are collaborating with As Four, said Adi, one of its designers. Kate Spade also designs the airline’s uniforms.

Had Song not stepped in, As Four “definitely” would not have been able to swing a runway show at Gotham Hall, Adi said. Bobbi Brown is lending a hand by ponying up the models’ makeup.

Meanwhile, Song’s parent company, Delta, will let its sponsorship of Richard Tyler’s show Friday be very known. One hundred Delta flight attendants will be in the house, along with JC Chasez, Mariel Hemingway and Rachel Hunter, when Tyler sends their new uniforms down the runway for the first time.

Airplane-size bottles won’t be doled out by Remy Martin when it sponsors David Rodriguez’ show. But the company has lined up Mexican singer Jimena as the entertainment for the after-party at Marquee. The Remy Martita, a new pomegranate-infused libation named after Rodriguez’ mother, Martita, will be the drink of choice.