WE ARE THE WORLD: Globalization: It’s a good thing. And the French worry far too much about China being a threat to their jobs. So says LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault, who used a press conference Monday about the new Louis Vuitton flagship on the Champs-Elysées to send a confidence-boosting message to his nation. “Instead of worrying, we can adapt,” he said. “Soon we will be opening another Louis Vuitton house in Beijing and there we’re selling products made in France. This is a symbol of French success. Fine French craftsmanship is very much appreciated by customers in that region.”

During a question-and-answer period, Arnault was asked by an Asian journalist to make further comments about Asian customers, prompting a round of chuckles in the audience. “As you know, we love our Asian customers at Louis Vuitton, we do,” he said, grinning. “And they love us, too, obviously.” In fact, Vuitton said it would add two “concierges” at the new Paris flagship to help better serve tourists and avoid “unfortunate” queues.

Next, Arnault was asked how he knew Marc Jacobs would be the right designer for the 151-year-old brand. “I asked him how he viewed Louis Vuitton, and he said, ‘Let me get back to you,'” Arnault related. “Two weeks later, he sent me a whole series of sketches that were amazing.” In fact, one of those first ideas, Monogram Vernis, went into his first collection. “Marc Jacobs is truly Vuitton,” Arnault said, before leading a visit to the sprawling boutique.

Meanwhile, word has it Arnault has another big construction project planned for Paris. A Christian Dior spokeswoman confirmed Monday that its Avenue Montaigne flagship is slated for a major renovation, adding that architect Peter Marino is already working with the house on a concept for 2007.

NUCLEAR FAMILY: Natalia Vodianova, who attended a slew of shows during Paris Fashion Week with her husband, Justin Portman (and occasionally their son Lucas), is going to need more front-row space. She confirmed to WWD she is four months pregnant (although her husband had let slip a hint last month at a party in New York). The baby is due in March — and the parents are both Pisces. They are relatively certain it is a girl.

This story first appeared in the October 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

RED-LETTER DAY: The most coveted and chicest dinner invitation tonight comes from the house of Valentino. Word has it the designer and Giancarlo Giammetti are hosting a dinner at Valentino’s magnificent Chateau de Wideville near Versailles and welcoming the likes of Betty Lagardere, Princess Caroline and Prince Ernst of Hanover and Marina Palma.

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