FORD DRIVES L.A.: As co-chair for the American Cinematheque gala honoring Nicole Kidman on Friday, Tom Ford couldn’t have found himself in better company if he does intend to pursue a post-Gucci career in Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein was squeezing through the crowd to talk to him, and heavies Sydney Pollack, Robert Benton, Kevin Huvane and Mike Medavoy all mingled among the fashion flock. On Ford’s arm that evening was Hollywood royalty Rita Wilson, who quipped, “I only go out with guys named Tom.” She said before the designer exits Gucci, something that’s going to make her “cry like you wouldn’t believe,” she plans to “buy everything I can from the next two collections. And if you think I’m joking, I’m not. I am going to covet all my Gucci and YSL.”

This story first appeared in the November 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Good for her,” Ford replied. But Naomi Watts sensed it was only the beginning. “I think he’s such a talented man I want to know what he’s going to do next. I don’t feel like I’ve seen the last of him, that’s for sure.”

(For more on the Cinematheque gala, see page 4).

STAR DESIGN: She’s been a fashion icon in her own right, posing for Armani, Celine, L’Oréal and Donna Karan ad campaigns, but now Milla Jovovich is turning the tables. The actress, who just wrapped the sequel to “Resident Evil,” is launching her own fashion line, in collaboration with former model Carmen Hawk. Jovovich has yet to name it, but she’s leaning toward Jovovich Hawk, according to a source close to the actress, who will soon begin shooting an action flick called “Ultraviolet” in Shanghai. For the first season, Jovovich plans to sell her romantic confections — all cut from vintage fabrics — to three to five stores. The styles range from form-fitting cocktail dresses in bright prints to flirty Fifties-inspired skirts.

BULLISH ON MARRIAGE: Word from Madrid has it that Carolina Herrera Jr. and acclaimed Spanish bullfighter Miguel Báez Litri will tie the knot this spring. Carolina Herrera Sr. and Reinaldo Herrera were in Madrid last week staying at Hotel Ritz, in what many local wags said was a meet-and-greet between the four parents, who had never met. The Spanish press also reported the newlyweds-to-be had an exchange of gifts — a diamond ring for her and a gold Rolex for him. The relatively elusive pair, Carolina and Miki (as he’s known in Spain) aren’t confirming the engagement quite yet, but talk has them getting hitched this spring at the Litri family’s white-washed bull ranch outside of Seville in southern Spain. For those who don’t follow Spanish bullfighting, Litri is the 35-year-old retired matador known in that country as being one of the sport’s sexiest participants.

EAST VILLAGE RENOVATION: Part of the reason so many guests caught an intimate performance by Rufus Wainwright and Suzanne Vega on Tuesday night in the East Village was to support Witness, a charity that donates video and digital cameras to human rights groups around the world to enable them to better broadcast their causes to a global audience. But another reason was to check out two amazing locations on a generally unassuming block of First Street.

The first was the revitalized Chez es Saada, a big fashion haunt of the late Nineties that hasn’t seen much action in recent years. Alina Slonim has renovated the entire space with custom-painted furniture, discreet lighting fixtures that cast intricate lace shadows along the walls and an entire room outfitted with curtains that once hung in the late Holly Solomon’s dining room. After tasting a few highlights of the restaurant’s new menu —infused with touches from Israeli specialties —?guests then moved to artist Izhar Patkin’s studio for the performance in an apartment that contained several outdoor courtyards, subterranean galleries and never seemed to end. The whole place was done up with candles and pillows on the ground, plus a large fire roaring outside.

“I felt like I was in the middle of a harem,” Wainwright said. “And I was the concubine.”

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