LADIES FIRST: First Lady Laura Bush ducked into 550 Seventh Avenue Thursday morning, but this time she wasn’t just paying a visit to Oscar de la Renta. She also stopped by Bill Blass and reportedly picked up some of Michael Vollbracht‘s latest creations. Executives at both companies declined to comment.

Trying to keep things on the down-low, the First Lady whisked in and out of the building via the West 39th Street service entrance. But word on the street spread fast, due partially to the Secret Service agents manning the lobby. Those who caught a glimpse of her said she wore a skirt, sweater and scarf, and was her amicable self, chatting with workers.

As for Bush’s new-found interest in Bill Blass, a few speculated that she noticed the company’s location while riding the elevator to visit de la Renta.

PAINTED LADIES: Vowing to do her part to boost a dying tradition, Tara Subkoff is joining the couture party again. The Imitation of Christ designer was in Paris earlier this week scouting a location for her next impromptu show, which will take place either July 7 or 8. “I love how couture is done out of the love for making something beautiful,” said Subkoff, who has a group of underground and emerging artists madly painting on silk fabrics on the deck of her Chelsea apartment in New York. In 2002, IOC staged a guerrilla fashion show outside the Christian Dior couture show, her models arriving in ambulances.

SURF SCENTS: Roxy is putting its message in a bottle. The women’s surfwear label, owned by Quiksilver, is about to ink a deal with L’Oreal for its first fragrance. Roxy hopes that its nascent beauty business will blossom with the launch of its first fragrance and expand to include sunscreen.

CHANEL SAMBA: The Chanel carnival is coming to Paris. A play about the life of Gabrielle Chanel opens June 24 at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. Karl Lagerfeld designed the costumes, but the play won’t be in French. Penned by Brazil’s Maria Adelaide Amaral, “Mademoiselle Chanel,” will run in Portuguese with French subtitles. Amaral’s play, part of France’s “Year of Brazil” celebration, has played to sold-out audiences in Sao Paulo since it premiered more than a year ago.

This story first appeared in the June 17, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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