FRENCH CONNECTION: Could Paul Deneve, who exited as Nina Ricci’s president last October, be headed to Lanvin? Sources said the affable executive is in talks to join Lanvin in a senior management role. Neither he nor Lanvin officials could be reached for immediate comment. Before Ricci, Deneve was president of Courrèges from 1998 to 2002.
PRESENT TENSE: What could be a better birthday prelude than a front-row seat at a Dior couture show? “This is my first couture show — it’s the perfect present,” enthused actress Mischa Barton, who flew in from L.A., where she’s been busy working on “The O.C.” But Barton, who turns 20 today, was also eager to take in Paris nightlife. “They’ve got something planned for me tonight, I can’t wait!” Also taking in the high-fashion scene for the first time was Emily Knight, the 12-year-old daughter of photographer Nick Knight. “I took her out of school for the day,” he explained Monday. “She loves fashion, and I wanted her to see this piece of extraordinary theater.” Over in the client section, Jocelyn Wildenstein said she was hopping off to Morocco to soak in the sun after her shopping spree here. “My list of favorite shops is as long as my arm,” she quipped. Seated next to French actor Jean Reno was rock legend Bryan Ferry, who mused: “I’m always looking for new sources of inspiration.” Nevertheless, the couture flock can expect plenty of oldies-but-goodies from the Roxy Music days when Ferry performs his 11 p.m. set tonight for Chloé. The house is celebrating the recent opening of its second Paris store with a lavish, celebrity-studded party in the grand salons of the old Paris mint, the Hotel de La Monnaie.
DESIGNER DEALS: Is Nine West the next brand planning to get a boost from fashion designers? According to market sources, the footwear and apparel company, which is owned by Jones Apparel Group, is in active negotiations with several high-profile designers to create exclusive limited-edition accessories. Designers said to be involved in the negotiations include Vivienne Westwood, Sophia Kokosalaki and Thakoon’s Thakoon Panichgul. While deals can still be weeks away, Nine West’s new designer collections concept could kick off in Nine West stores as soon as this fall. It would likely focus on accessories, including handbags, shoes, belts and other small leather goods. A Nine West spokeswoman declined comment.
Tapping designers for limited runs at major brands or retail chains is becoming quite a trend in fashion. Hennes & Mauritz caused a frenzy with shoppers when it launched its Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney designs, and Target has been successful at establishing fashion cachet with its Isaac Mizrahi line. Next month, Target is also expected to kick off its new limited-edition concept Go International with a collection by London designer Luella Bartley.
HOT STUFF: One of the most coveted prizes in the raffle at Wednesday’s Sidaction dinner during the couture will surely be the one donated by Fendi. The Rome-based fashion house had artist Sylvie Fleury customize a “Bag de Jour” from its spring collection. Fleury, who often references the world of muscle cars, had flames airbrushed onto the silver leather, and added some fuzzy dice for good measure.
Meanwhile, although she’s no longer on the couture calendar, Donatella Versace is slated to arrive in Paris tonight, mainly to attend the Sidaction dinner, where she will host a table. The designer isn’t expected to take in any shows, though she will mingle with one designer peer: Valentino, who has invited her to dinner at his chateau outside of Paris.
GRANDE DAMES: She may have starred in the 1994 flick “Prêt-à-Porter,” but actress Sophia Loren is still a sucker for couture. “I love how I look and how I feel in it,” she purred at the Armani Privé show Monday morning. While Loren was busy finding her seat, Charlotte Rampling was talking about her latest film, “Heading South,” now out in theaters. “It’s about women in the Seventies who escape to islands to find love,” she explained. Like Loren, Rampling is no novice when it comes to haute couture — with one important caveat. “I don’t buy couture,” she said. “I borrow it.” Meanwhile, Ozwald Boateng, the men’s wear designer at Givenchy, turned heads when he showed up in Armani’s front row at an earlier show. While not a couture client himself, the Savile Row-trained tailor quipped, “You never know.”