TRUE CONFESSIONS: Lapo Elkann is going public with his demons. A little over a year after Elkann was found in critical condition due to a cocaine overdose, the 29-year-old grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli opened up during a two-and-a-half-minute TV interview in Rome by news director Gianni Riotta. The interview aired Wednesday during the 8 p.m. news on Rai Uno, Italy’s main TV channel. Elkann was detailed and open about his drug-abuse past, admitting his mistakes and depression. But the Fiat heir believes he’s put the episode behind him and now the young entrepreneur is ready to move on. In fact, he is channeling his style and good taste into a new project called Italia Independent. The company is a start-up that will bow with a pair of sunglasses entirely made with carbon, a first-ever accomplishment in the eyewear sector.

The sunglasses will be unveiled Wednesday in Florence during the Pitti Uomo trade fair. “I’m sure 2007 is going to be a good year,” said Elkann. “This project is my dream; the frames are entirely made in Italy because I’m very attached to my country.”

MORE MENTORS: The 2006 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Doo-Ri Chung was matched with J. Crew chief executive officer Millard “Mickey” Drexler as her yearlong mentor. Now the mentors for the two runners-up have been selected. Thakoon designer Thakoon Panichgul will be working with Gucci brand ceo Mark Lee, while Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy will be mentored by Gucci Group executive vice president James McArthur for the year. Designers are expected to meet with their mentors once a month on average and will rely on the expertise of these executives to guide them as they grow their young businesses.

HONOR ROLL: France continues to dole out honors to members of the fashion community. Bernard Fornas, president of Cartier International; Isabelle Guichot, president of Sergio Rossi, and Victoire de Castellane, Dior’s jewelry designer, all have been elevated to Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for services to their country. The honors were released Thursday by the French government as part of its traditional New Year’s merits. Bestowal ceremonies are set by each recipient.

This story first appeared in the January 5, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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