BELLO FOCUSED: Maria Bello, the face of Max Mara’s fall catalogue, is adopting a take-charge attitude to go with her new role. “I’m over girly, and I’m much more into male dressing now,” she said Friday at Tower Bar in Los Angeles at a Women in Film luncheon honoring her. “Diane Keaton is my inspiration.

“I’m the person on the plane who drives everyone crazy tearing pictures out of magazines. On my last trip, this was the first look I tore out,” she said of her overall-style frock. “I love wearing clothes that make you feel like a powerhouse, yet men still find sexy.”

GAINING MOMENTUM: Graham & Spencer, the chic but easy contemporary label designed by the duo behind the T-shirt and knit dress line Velvet, said orders for the inaugural fall collection have been strong and the company is increasing its first-year sales forecast to $5 million to $8 million, from its initial projection of $4 million. “We were very excited about how crazy people were for it,” said Toni Spencer, the London-born designer who works on Velvet and Graham & Spencer with Johannesburg, South Africa, native Jenny Graham.

Among the 30 or so retailers that ordered the fall collection are Neiman Marcus and Henri Bendel in New York, Harvey Nichols in London and Holt Renfrew in Toronto. Specialty retailers adding the label include Curve in Los Angeles, Fred Segal Trend in Santa Monica, Calif., and Metier in San Francisco.

Graham & Spencer’s holiday collection will have 50 pieces, up from some 40 styles offered for fall, and will include coats. “We’re entering a phase in the market right now that is relatively embellished-free,” Graham said. “We’re using beautiful fabrics that have a shine for holiday.”

This story first appeared in the May 17, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.