THE HANNANT FACTOR: Along with Douglas Hannant’s newly sophisticated makeover of his collection and persona, the designer is following the mold of the late Bill Blass in more ways than one.

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Hannant just named Yvonne Miller as director of public relations, a new in-house position. Miller, who was briefly director of retail for John Anthony’s new custom design studio at Bergdorf Goodman, was previously director of p.r. at Bill Blass Ltd., where she worked for 17 years.

Hannant also conquered the Palm Beach social scene this weekend for a series of events dubbed locally as “The Douglas Hannant Fashionable Weekend in Palm Beach,” which kicked off with a luncheon hosted by Audrey Gruss on Friday.

Dana Hammond, Patty Raynes, Beth Rudin de Woody and Debbie Bancroft were among the guests who then followed Hannant to Alpark, a specialty store on Worth Avenue, for a trunk show given by owners Sami Alpark and Rene Gallardo, who was formerly the general store manager and vice president of the Saks Fifth Avenue in Palm Beach. Hannant sold $275,000 of spring merchandise, including 14 black and white tweed skirtsuits for $2,600 each, nine fitted yellow tweed skirtsuits for $2,900 each and six white- and black-sequined plaid coat and dress cocktail combinations at $8,700 apiece.

CHANGES AT BBS: Kenny Bonavitacola has stepped down as design director at BILL Bill Blass, the licensed bridge-priced dress collection division of BBS International. He has decided not to renew his contract.

Bonavitacola was originally appointed design director at Perry Ellis Dress, a licensed division of BBS International, until that license expired in December 2002. At that time, the designer assumed the design director position at BILL Bill Blass, as well as responsibility for all private label programs at BBS International, including J.C. Penney and Dillard’s.

Prior to joining BBS International, Bonavitacola held design director positions at Kasper Dress, Tahari and the Warren Group. From 1978 to 1986, Bonavitacola was president of his own company. Executives at BBS International did not return phone calls seeking comment on his replacement.