RUSSIAN AROUND: Vittorio Radice, who famously rejuvenated Selfridges, appears to be a applying his retail magic store by store in his post Marks & Spencer career. Having recently signed on as a nonexecutive director of outlet mall giant McArthurGlen, Radice is now also consulting for Russia’s Mercury Group as it seeks to revamp and expand the famous but rundown TSUM department store it acquired in 2002. Outside the Marni show on Tuesday, Mercury’s Alla Verber said Radice would devote one week per month to the giant project. And he’s already hands-on. Radice was slated to arrive in Milan Tuesday night, joining Verber just in time for today’s Gucci show.
IT’S A GIRL: Kate and Andy Spade welcomed the arrival of their first child, Frances Bea, Friday night. She weighed in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces. A spokeswoman confirmed that mom and baby are both well.
EDITOR NOT AT LARGE: Among prominent front-row absentees this season is Vogue’s André Leon Talley. It’s actually the second season Talley has been absent from Milan and various conspiracy theories abound. But a Vogue spokesman insisted there’s nothing afoot. He said Talley is on an undisclosed writing assignment for the April issue, and then he’s off to Los Angeles for the Oscars this weekend.
HICKS UP: Model-turned-actress Michelle Hicks has another turn up her sleeve: journalist. The star of TV’s “The Shield” is covering the Milan shows with photographer Roxanne Lowitt for Italian Vanity Fair. “I did spend 10 years in the business. I should know a thing or two,” Hicks quipped at the Anna Molinari show Tuesday. Still, she allowed, “It’s not an easy job.” And then there are the indignities of the trade — for instance, being shunted to the second row, which is what happened later at Giorgio Armani.
PRIVACY ACT: Giorgio Armani is always up for a fashion show — his own, that is. As an encore to his Emporio and signature shows earlier this week, he’s planning to reprise his Privé couture show for Milanese clients — 276 of them, to be exact — on Thursday. Meanwhile, at the Giorgio Armani show Monday, the front row was as Italian as pasta al pomodoro. “My next film comes out April 1. I filmed it in Sicily. It’s called ‘Miracolo a Palermo’ (Miracle in Palermo),” Maria Grazia Cucinotta said, just before exchanging kisses and pleasantries with seatmate Ornella Muti. Brits Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Evans provided a dash of geographic diversity to the mostly Italian line up of stars like Sandra Ceccarelli and Laura Morante.
MOTHER’S DAY: Stella Tennant was seated in the front row at the Burberry show Tuesday night — and looking slim enough for the runway less than six months after giving birth to her fourth child, Iris. “It’s just the breast feeding,” she said, accounting for how quickly she shed her pregnancy gains. “At the rate she’s going, there will be nothing left!”
DOLCE’S NEW STAR: Dolce & Gabbana USA has tapped Willy Lima as its director of VIP services, a new post based in the company’s New York offices. Lima will oversee VIP services on the East and West coasts, working with special and one-of-a-kind custom pieces, dressing celebrities for the red carpet, and handling special projects like trunk shows. Lima is well known in retail circles, having worked at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Charivari and at Jeffrey New York. Prior to joining Dolce & Gabbana, he was director of Gucci Group’s VIP client services, and before that, couture development director at Christian Dior Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Christian Dior Couture. He is probably best known for his 12 years as couture director at Bergdorf Goodman. Angela Janklow Harrington, who joined the company’s Beverly Hills office in 2003 to generate opportunities in film, television, publishing and music, remains on board.
LIZ LOOMS: Is it the cold weather keeping celebrities away from Milan Fashion Week? Thankfully, Elizabeth Hurley is braving the elements, arriving in town Tuesday for Diego Della Valle’s private dinner to honor famed set designer Dante Ferretti. Ferretti, who has designed the Tod’s presentations for years, is dashing off to Los Angeles for the Oscars and will actually miss Tod’s presentation Thursday. But Hurley is sticking around. Word has it she’ll put in an appearance at the Versace show Thursday.
CATCH 22: Margherita Missoni turned 22 on Feb. 22, but she waited until tonight after the Missoni show to celebrate. Word has it she’ll host a party for her Milanese friends at her family’s apartment and then head back to New York, where she’s taking acting classes.
Also, Missoni will represent the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, at the Italian pavilion of Japan’s Expo 2005, which opens on March 25. Company founder Ottavio Missoni was born in the northeastern region of Friuli and his son Luca has designed an installation with mannequins wearing the brand’s typical zig-zags and patchworks.
MORE MARNI: Marni feted a brand new Milan boutique in a quiet courtyard just off Via Della Spiga Tuesday — and it’s a big step. The 2,150-square-foot space, featuring a granite column and steel fixtures, is positively sprawling compared with the closet-sized store on Via Sant’Andrea that it replaces. Elsewhere, the brand will open its first U.S. shop-in-shop in New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue next month. It’s also planning to celebrate its recently opened Los Angeles store sometime soon, said Luca Voarino, vice president director of marketing and sales at Marni USA. Details for the L.A. party and other store openings have yet to be finalized.
HELLO DOLLY: RuPaul has been keeping a low profile lately, but the Nineties drag queen extraordinaire is ready to make some noise again. He has a new radio show, album and single, and now, he is capping his comeback with The RuPaul Doll, a transgendered miniature version of himself launched with Integrity Toys Inc. at the American International Toy Fair 2005 at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this week. The platinum blonde doll wears three different outfits: a flamingo gown, a red vinyl corset suit with thigh-high platform boots, or shredded jeans and a black mesh, leather and tulle corset. At six-feet-four-inches, RuPaul is slightly taller than the typical fashion model, so the doll has two extra inches on a Barbie. RuPaul said he always wanted a doll, “because I am a living doll. “The RuPaul image is a fabrication of my imagination, so to have it as a miniature is perfect.”
The first shipment of 15,000 dolls in June targets upscale collectible shops, specialty boutiques and department stores. The doll is priced at $59.99 retail.
“It’s about time for a transgendered doll, since gay marriage is in question and there is the controversy about SpongeBob,” said Jason Wu, Integrity Toys’ creative director.
With a doll that bends all gender boundaries, one couldn’t help but wonder what is underneath the frilly outfits. “It’s not anatomically correct,” Wu said, laughing. “The body is sculpted in RuPaul’s proportions. It’s got super-long legs and arms. But it has a beautiful womanly figure underneath.”