ELLEN TRACY SOLD? It’s been on and off the block for years, but now Ellen Tracy may finally have been sold, sources told WWD. Herb Gallen, the 86-year-old owner and chairman of the bridge apparel powerhouse is apparently getting down to the matter of planning his estate.

This story first appeared in the June 17, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“He’s taking care of his heirs,” said a source.

“You know the guy is in his eighties, he still prices the line,” said one retailer. “He’s active.”

Gallen is married to Linda Allard, who designs the Ellen Tracy collection. They couldn’t be reached for comment. Six years ago, Boston-based Bain & Co. almost bought Ellen Tracy, but Gallen nixed the deal at the last moment and took the company off the block. Bain could be back for a second try. Other logical contenders are Financo Inc., which brokered the deal with Bain, Liz Claiborne, Jones Apparel Group, and Vestar Capital Partners. Two long shots are Retail Brand Alliance, which has its plate full with its recent Brooks Bros. acquisition, and Texas Pacific, which already owns the troubled J. Crew, as well as Bally.

GUESS WHO’LL DO THE DRESS: Gabby Karan — Donna’s daughter — flew to Italy this week for a romantic liaison with Gianpaolo De Felice, who hails from Naples. Seems the two are engaged, but there’s no word on a wedding date yet. “He’s a pilot for Alitalia,” Gabby said at last week’s birthday party for Kal Ruttenstein at the Hudson Penthouse.

Also at the party, Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar, was overheard telling Donna Karan that she’s planning a feature about the designer in the October issue. The topic: Karan’s weight loss, haircut and personal chef. Later, Patti Cohen, Donna’s spokeswoman, said, “Nothing is confirmed.”

FOOT LIGHTS: Candie’s is aggressively advertising in the fall, and those at the company can’t think of a better way to showcase the clothes and accessories than to feature three rising stars. The first Candie’s girl is Ashanti, who’s signed to Def Jam Records and whose latest hit, “Foolish,” continues to top the charts. She was clearly having a blast at the shoot, which took place at Picture Ray Studios in New York last week, laughing and munching on Krispy Creme doughnuts.

KYLIE’S BOYS: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana can’t get Kylie Minogue out of their heads. First they dressed the pop siren for her Fever tour, and now the duo is heating up the Milan summer scene by throwing a mega party at Milan’s Spazio Antologico following Minogue’s concert Tuesday night. The designers sent out invites containing black T-shirts and asked guests to customize and wear them for entree into the party. In this case, one size really does fit all.

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