IN PLAIN SIGHT: Tom Ford knows how to milk a controversial entrance or exit, so the designer had to be aware that he’d be raising eyebrows by showing up at the Four Seasons in Milan on Sunday night to meet up with Valentino and his entourage, including Giancarlo Giammetti, Bruce Hoeksema and Carlos Souza. Ford and Valentino then left the hotel and arrived together at GQ’s designer bash, starting conspiracy theorists, who hadn’t stopped whispering about the possibility of Ford going to Versace, thinking about Ford at Valentino. Souza, reached on Monday, said Ford was simply repaying Valentino for having hosted him for a ski weekend in Gstaad over Christmas.

“It was just a nice cocktail before the GQ party,” Souza said.

And, as rumors persist that Alexander McQueen is heir apparent to Ford at Yves Saint Laurent, the British designer for now appears to be clearly focused on his namesake label, introducing his first men’s collection under Gucci Group this week during the fall 2004 shows. During an intimate chat about the new collection at a presentation in Milan, the designer seemed caught off guard by the YSL question. “I’m surprised that a men’s wear magazine would ask that,” he told WWD’s sister publication DNR. On the record, McQueen, whose brand is controlled by YSL parent company Gucci Group, gave a “no comment” about rumored talks. However, a psychologist would have had a field day interpreting his uncomfortable body language as he dodged a concrete answer.

‘SEX,’ OSCAR AND PARIS: Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Aleksandr Petrovsky character on “Sex and the City” wasn’t kidding when he said on Sunday’s episode that he and Oscar de la Renta are friends. The designer said he has known Baryshnikov for so many years that he doesn’t recall how they met. They are neighbors — but not tennis partners —in Punta Cana, Mexico.

De la Renta noted another truism. The pink dress from his collection that Petrovsky gives to Sarah Jessica Parker’s character has been one of the most successful of the season and is featured in several ads. The designer’s handiwork was also worn by actresses Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall in two other scenes on Sunday’s show.

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Meanwhile, Parker is set to arrive in Paris today to begin filming final episodes of the series, and rest assured there is major fashion on her itinerary. In fact, she is expected front-row at the Christian Dior couture show on Monday. But that’s not quite enough John Galliano for her. In fact, Parker is slated to round out couture week by filming a scene at the Dior flagship boutique on Avenue Montaigne. The show’s costume designer, Patricia Field, landed in France on Monday to begin scoping out her wardrobe. Word has it scenes will be filmed at the Hotel Plaza Athénée, and the Jeu de Paume museum.