POT OF GOLD: It looks as if a new fairy godmother has fluttered her way into fashion — an industry perpetually in need of fresh cash. Compagnie Financière Richemont has become the principal investor in a new company called Atelier Fund Management LLC, according to the group’s latest annual report, which describes the fund as specialized in the “acquisition and development” of luxury brands. A Richemont spokesman declined to say how much money the company has invested in Atelier, but he revealed it was an attractive opportunity. “It allows Richemont to piggyback on the fund managers’ talent-spotting expertise,” he said. He added the fund was looking for opportunities chiefly — but not exclusively — in the U.S. The Richemont spokesman declined to reveal the nature of investments already made by Atelier. A spokesman for the fund could not be reached for comment at press time.

DIAMOND LIFE: Victoire de Castellane has organized a wacky voyage through the cyberspace phenomenon known as “Second Life” to unveil her third high jewelry collection for Christian Dior. Some 1,500 editors have been invited to visit the brand’s imaginary Belladone Island starting Friday. There, five large-scale virtual replicas of the collection will be showcased within a boat-like structure designed by architect Patrick Berger. The actual pieces, 17 in all, will be unveiled in a real-life version of Berger’s structure in Paris on Feb. 27, the day of Dior’s fall ready-to-wear show. While most visitors will be able to access the island in view-only mode, 140 VIPs will be provided with character names that will allow them to navigate the island in the body of a bee. The island is said to illustrate the inspiration behind the collection, which features trippy botanical-inspired creations such as a carnivorous butterfly ring.

HIGH LIFE: Christian Lacroix, one of fashion’s consummate multitaskers, will go from frocks to furniture come Paris couture week. The designer, who is slated to show his latest high fashion collection on Jan. 23, will also be honored at a dinner Jan. 26 at the Maison & Objet home decor trade fair, which named him its creator of the year.

This story first appeared in the January 11, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT: Fashion giants old and new turned out at Paris’ Ministry of Culture Tuesday night to watch glamour-puss French actress Jeanne Moreau be decorated with the insignia of Commander of the National Order of Merit. The award was for lifetime achievement in entertainment. Designers Hedi Slimane and Pierre Cardin were in the crowd, which was mainly made up of entertainment bigwigs such as Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob.

SASHA’S STARRY NIGHT: Skating fans would be mistaken to presume the beaded nude-colored dress Sasha Cohen skated in Tuesday night at The Pond in Bryant Park was inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s Happy-birthday-Mr.-President dress. After showing the crowd her Olympian talent, Cohen said Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night” provided the design impetus. “If you look closely at the painting, there are gold needles in the swirls. I saw that on a nude-colored dress with [what looked like] a big diamond choker. That can’t be bad — all that sparkle,” she said.

Her post-performance outfit for a Weatherproof-backed party — a black knit dress over Paige denim jeans with a Nanette Lepore velvet jacket and Christian Dior black boots — was decidedly more relaxed and complete. The same could not be said for Cohen’s on-ice attire. “It’s not done yet. My costumer has been sewing on beading, bugles and crystals for three weeks. It will take another month for us to finish. Then it will be completely encrusted,” she said.

As her sister, Natasha, and mother, Galina Feldman, helped shoot pictures for Cohen’s admirers, the seemingly unflappable skater said she didn’t let the unfinished dress distract her. “I always try to prepare well at home and do my job. There’s nothing like skating outdoors and skating in New York is so gorgeous. It’s magical.”

IT’S A SMALL WORLD: Although the few remaining large couture houses recently got out of the habit of multiple shows for clients and press, a couple are doubling up come couture week Jan. 22-25: Christian Lacroix and Valentino. The simple reason is a smaller venue. Both had shown at the soaring main atrium of the Beaux Arts, which is closed for renovation. Valentino opted for a smaller hall in the same art school; Lacroix for the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum.

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