ORDER UP: As of April, shoppers at the new Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Milan will be able to pull up a chair at the brand’s first cafe and bar. The boutique will be moving into Piazza del Carmine 6, which is nestled in Milan’s Brera district, a neighborhood known for its historic buildings, pedestrian-friendly streets, art museums, open-air cafes and shops. From 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., passersby will be able to duck into the Marc by Marc Jacobs cafe. Architect Stephan Jaklitsch designed the 3,100-square-foot store with a sliding blue glass door that connects to the cafe. Both areas will be consistent with the Marc by Marc Jacobs signature look — neon signage, navy concrete floors and blue steel shelves.

This story first appeared in the January 14, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

CHRIS BROWN TO MILAN: Is hopping on the fashion circuit a good way to rehabilitate an image? Chris Brown’s team seems to think so. The controversial R&B singer, who last summer pled guilty to felony assault on Rihanna, has booked a room at the Bulgari hotel and is planning to make the rounds of Milan Men’s Fashion Week with stylist David Thomas. Brown’s publicist claims they have secured invites to Versace, Gianfranco Ferré, Neil Barrett, Vivienne Westwood, Costume National and the Missoni presentation — allegedly as a personal guest of Margherita Missoni. Meanwhile, there has been gossip among the bigger houses that turned him down for reasons including the risk of offending Rihanna, an A-list fashion plate. Undaunted, Brown’s publicist said the singer is available for modeling and guest editing. The public relations reps invited a group of editors and designer publicists to a fashion week dinner at Armani Nobu, and claim that footballer Fabiano Santacroce and actress Barbara Petrillo will attend.

MODEL FORD: Still mulling over a run for the U.S. Senate, Harold Ford Jr. agreed to the full-on, sit-down interview for Wednesday’s New York Times, but his wife, Emily Threlkeld, is staying buttoned-up. And that’s saying something considering she is a fashion publicist. The former Carolina Herrera staffer handed off an interview request Wednesday to her husband’s spokesman, Davidson Goldin. Should her better half choose to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose campaign T-shirts are being designed by Nanette Lepore, the fair-haired Ford could certainly phone in some design talent of her own.

JUMP-START ON THE GLOBES: The upcoming Golden Globes has brought a slew of fetes for nominated actresses, and last weekend saw back-to-back affairs thrown by Dior and The Weinstein Co. for Marion Cotillard (a best actress nominee for her turn in “Nine”) and by Audi, Cameron Silver and Gianfranco Ferré for “True Blood” star and best actress nominee Anna Paquin.

Friday night in the Chateau Marmont’s Bungalow One, Cotillard held court as “Nine” producer Marc Platt unveiled a video she shot for her “Nine” number “Take It All.” “You may all know Marion is an Oscar-winning actress, but what you may not know is that she’s a talented music video artist,” he deadpanned. The clip showed bits from the film, rehearsal footage and outtakes of Cotillard in the recording studio. “Aaagh, this is so embarrassing,” she laughed as the small crowd, including directors Jim Sheridan, David Lynch and Michael Mann, and Tobey and Jennifer Maguire, broke into applause. Although tout Hollywood seems to want to work with her, Cotillard says she’s next turning her attention to a personal documentary on conserving the forestlands, which she was inspired to do after some friends raised her awareness about deforestation.

The next night, Sunset Tower was the site for Paquin’s party, a decidedly more crowded affair. “As I get older, I get more confident about playing dress-up,” she said of the fashion swirl.

RUNWAY FOR THE MASSES: The debate about the democratization of the fashion system could be about to heat up again. Just as some houses are adjusting to the idea of live Webcasting their runway shows, Belgian designer Dirk Bikkembergs is going a step further, putting tickets to his Sport Couture men’s show in Milan up for sale to the public. The requisite audience of buyers and press will be invited as usual. But in addition, the fashion-loving hoi polloi have the opportunity to buy tickets to the Monday show via bikkembergs.com for 11 euros, or $16 at current exchange. Profits from paying guests will be donated to a cancer charity, the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology Foundation.

FLORENTINE FETES: The nine lives of Lars Nilsson continued this week as the former designer of Gianfranco Ferré, Nina Ricci and Bill Blass launched his signature collection, Mr. Nils, during Pitti Uomo. “I wanted to do this in Florence because it’s men’s wear and Italy does a lot of the components,” said Nilsson, referring to his partner in the venture, the clothing manufacturer Mabro. Inside the Museo Marino Marini, a sculpture museum, slim dark suits were displayed on mannequins, which were elevated among the artworks on their pedestals. Nearby, preppy outdoor looks were modeled among photos and a film of a Swedish snow scene. “He wears these in the city, and those in the country on the weekend,” said Nilsson, explaining the dichotomy.

Later that night, Brunello Cucinelli hosted a sumptuous dinner party at the Palazzo Budini Gattai. Guests discreetly gawked at the impeccably preserved 15th-century mansion before sitting down to pasta, grilled steak and, of course, wine.


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