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FLOWER POWER: Chanel has added another stem to its bouquet of couture ateliers. WWD has learned the fashion house has acquired Maison Guillet, a maker of fabric flowers since 1896. Guillet, which once produced a life-size tree with 60,000 silk leaves for the theater stage, also does floral designs for houses including Balenciaga, Emanuel Ungaro, Chloé and Sonia Rykiel. Chanel SA has been buying up couture workshops like embroiderer Lesage through its subsidiary Paraffection to preserve France’s savoir faire.

SMOKE SIGNALS: Stefano Pilati, Olivier Theyskens and Azzedine Alaïa were among designers who checked out Sunday’s Miu Miu show — before checking out of town. “I’m going skiing for one week in St. Moritz. I can’t wait,” said Pilati. Theyskens said he’s heading back home to Belgium as his sister just had a baby, making him an Uncle Olivier for the third time. Just before the show started, Catherine Deneuve, seated next to Charlotte Casiraghi, lit up one of her long cigarettes — to the shock of ushers — who directed her to a vestibule where she could finish her smoke. Miuccia Prada’s debut drew French actresses of all ages, from Miu Miu advertising alumni Ludivine Sagnier to screen veteran Isabelle Huppert. The show generated plenty of buzz during the week, but the scarcity of tickets did not build much goodwill among retailers. Like most big stores, Neiman Marcus was allocated only two seats. “We would have liked more tickets,” said president Karen Katz. “We’re trying to grow the business.” Michael Fink, senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, agreed: “It’s disappointing that the whole merchant team couldn’t attend.”

METAL WORKS: Management changes are in the cards for Paco Rabanne. According to market sources, Rabanne president Frederick Luckoff will be exiting the house shortly. It is understood no immediate successor will be named. The house, owned by Spain’s Puig Group, is trying to rejuvenate its brand image with designer Patrick Robinson.

This story first appeared in the March 6, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

SING A SONG: “I’ve been on tour since 1973,” quipped Sting, one of the seasoned rock figures at Chanel on Friday. But down the row, Marianne Faithfull was talking less about music. The star of the forthcoming “Marie-Antoinette,” just wrapped up a film called “Irina P.” and is taking a six-month hiatus. Meanwhile, French starlets were also talking tunes. Chanel muse Anna Mouglalis said she’s learning how to play guitar for her upcoming album. And Alison Paradis, Vanessa’s little sister, said she’ll be the guest singer on French musician U’s album, due out this fall. “I’m going to start rehearsing for some concert dates in Paris in September,” said the actress.

THREE AMIGOS: Model Mariacarla Boscono, who’s been taking theater classes at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in New York, let slip at John Galliano’s raucous after party at Black Calvados that she’s to star in a Jean Genet play in Manhattan in May. Meanwhile, designers swapped tips for the best hangover cure. “The best way is to never have a hangover,” reasoned Balenciaga’s Nicholas Ghesquière, while Stefano Pilati said he swears by “liters of green tea.” For Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, a Bloody Mary does the trick, or the same thing one was drinking the night before. “That would mean a glass of champagne for me tomorrow morning,” he said. Galliano said he’s given up drink, so where does he get his highs? “From fashion,” he quipped. Elsewhere in the club was pop star Pink and her husband Carey Hart. “Can you think of a better city for weekend romance?” she said. “I’ve even decided to take French classes.” Earlier at the Galliano show, Manolo Blahnik voiced his disapproval of recent shoe trends. “I don’t like all these platform shoes we’re seeing,” he declared. “It’s like having furniture on your feet.”

WATERWORLD: Guess what’s selling like hot cakes at the Marc Jacobs store that opened in January in Paris’s picturesque Palais Royale: surfboards. “In Paris, in the middle of winter, we sold five of them,” said Jacobs president Robert Duffy, who also cited strong sales of eveningwear — though not to the same customers. Meanwhile, Duffy also disclosed he’s in talks with a European company to license Jacobs’ children’s wear.

HIP HIP MOURET: Designer Roland Mouret slipped into the dark Kenzo show Saturday unnoticed — well, almost. “Please don’t write anything!” urged the designer, the subject of so many rumors. “I’m in town seeing friends and on a couple of appointments.” He assured he’s taking his time evaluating a range of proposals, and finishing up his contract with the owners of his namesake house, from whom he has split.

A CERTAIN ALLURE: Linda Evangelista, Angela Lindvall, Ennio Capasa and Olivier Theyskens were among those who gathered Thursday night at Bistrot de Paris to help Allure magazine celebrate 15 years of backstage coverage of beauty trends. Dinner chat veered toward the Oscars, but Christian Louboutin wasn’t having any of it. “I always avoid shoes and Oscars conversations,” he said. Meanwhile, Allure’s Sasha Charnin Morrison had her table in stitches, recounting her appearance as a teenage prostitute in Pat Benetar’s video “Love is a Battlefield.” While VIPs kept pouring in as midnight approached, including Hogan’s Emanuele Della Valle, the Allure crew had an early call Friday morning: Mario Testino was booked to shoot “Da Vinci Code” star Audrey Tatou for its April cover.

CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: Christian Lacroix has a new chief executive: Nicolas Topiol, who has been a director of the company since travel retail firm Falic Group acquired Lacroix last year. Topiol disclosed his appointment at the Lacroix show on Friday. He said he’ll split his time between Florida, where Falic is based, and Paris. Topiol has also been building up his team, and just hired Nathalie Franson-Citroen, previously with Chanel, as Lacroix’s new chief operating officer. Topiol’s next priority? Building the U.S. business, including bringing Lacroix’s men’s wear to America. Meanwhile, designer Alice Roi was spotted in the second row at the show. “I’m a big Lacroix fan,” said the New Yorker, in Europe working on her handbag collection. “I really like the way he does pink and red smashed together.”

WIVES’ TALES: Two of the late Serge Gainsbourg’s wives — his first, Jane Birkin, and last, Bambou — sat together front row at Hermès on Saturay. “There’s nothing unusual about us being together,” quipped Birkin, who inspired the house’s iconic Birkin bag. “We get along great.” Birkin has been busy of late. She has a new album, “Fictions,” out this month, and she will soon begin directing and acting in a film about a woman who has three children.

LOVE HURTS: Courtney Love is really taking a shine to fashion. At the Stella McCartney party Thursday night, Love revealed plans to launch a lingerie-inspired collection in tandem with Los Angeles retailer Tracey Ross. “It’ll be in the style of Agent Provocateur, but more accessible price-wise,” said Love, adding that it would first be geared toward Japan. “I’m like The Beatles over there,” she boasted. Meanwhile, Kate Hudson and rocker husband Chris Robinson could be the next Hollywood couple to acquire a Parisian pad. “Every day we’ve been asking, ‘Why don’t we spend more time here?” said Hudson. “To see the goings on here has been a lot of fun. It’s like a Broadway show.”

PROUD POP: Vogue publisher Tom Florio had a family member in tow for the Paris shows: his 13-year-old daughter Lucie. “This is her first time outside the United States,” announced the proud poppa. And Lucie’s favorite thing about Paris? “I love the croque monsieurs,” she said.

ROCK ON: While Sunday’s Academy Awards may have kept the Hollywood set Stateside during fashion week, rock stars took up the slack in the front row. “ My girlfriend works for [Alexander] McQueen,” said Primal Scream front man Bobby Gillespie, explaining his presence at that show, and countless others. “I’ve been to hundreds of his shows,” he boasted.

TRADING PLACES: French actress Julie Gayet, who last season snapped photos at the shows for charity, said she has a newfound patience for paparazzi. “I know a bit more what it’s like,” she said at Chloé. Gayet is now filming “Mon Meilleur Ami” with Daniel Auteuil and model Audrey Marnay. Chloé founder Gaby Aghion, meanwhile, was spinning tales of bygone fashion days. “In my time there wasn’t a show without sophisticated hats and hairstyles,” she said. “But I love the loose hair and the uncombed looks we see now.”

HAIR APPARENT: Odile Gilbert will be awarded a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Arts), a first for a hairstylist, in July. “I’m scared,” said Gilbert, who did the hairstyles for Kirsten Dunst in the upcoming film “Marie-Antoinete.”

POINTS EAST: Belgian designers can open shops, too, as Ann Demeulemeester is proving. On April 13, the designer will inaugurate her first store in Tokyo, and in June, she will open a boutique in Hong Kong. Already with a flagship in her hometown of Antwerp, Demeulemeester is on the lookout for another spot in Europe, according to Anne Chapelle, who owns a stake in her house.

STEP UP: Marc Newson is putting the finishing touches on a shoe store for Azzedine Alaïa in Paris that the Australian industrial designer said should open in April or May. “It’s going to be unusual,” said Newson at the Jasmine de Milo show on Sunday. Also on deck for Newson is his first major exhibit of new furniture in years, planned for September at Manhattan’s Gagosian gallery. “It’s a big departure from my other work,” he said.

DOUBLE VISION: While fashion photographers dominated front rows this season, Juergen Teller was too busy promoting his solo show at the Cartier Foundation. “I haven’t got time to hang out with fashion friends at the moment,” Teller said at a preview attended by the likes of Stefano Pilati and model Diana Dondoe. According to Teller, his next project will be a photo trip to Bangkok with William Eggleston. “Eggleston said he had a dream of us going there together,” said Teller.

IF THE SHU FITS: It took one click of stunning actress Shu Qi’s heels to make the paparazzi come running at the Roger Vivier book launch party Saturday night, joining the likes of Marianne Faithfull, Andre Putman, Marisa Berenson and Lee Radziwill. “I just love the way they make your calves look,” Qi said of her shoes. She added she’s working on a book project with Paolo Roversi. Vanessa Seward, who turned up with her musician beau Bertrand Burgalat, was testing out a pair of patent heels from her new Azzaro shoe line launched this week. “My fetish shoes are some vintage Prada towering heels with vine leaves twisting round them,” she said. But Giles Deacon was on a different kind of high. “I’ve just been approached by Barneys to have a window during the opening week of the Met’s upcoming ‘Anglomania’ exhibition in May,” gushed the designer.

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