A|X MARKS THE SPOT: The largest A|X Armani Exchange store to date will make its debut on London’s Regent Street in September. The store, a total of 11,700 square feet over two levels, will be the fifth A|X unit in the U.K., and will feature the new A|X retail design concept. There will be a mixture of large spaces and private “rooms,” as well as contrasting textures and finishes. There will be interactive media and 10-foot-high video screens beaming images from the seasonal collections.

Also in September, another A|X new-generation store will open in Tokyo at Park Way Square, in the fashionable Shibuya district. That store will cover 4,925 square feet on two levels. It will be the brand’s third Japanese store. “Today, London and Tokyo are rightly considered to be among the most innovative and trendsetting cities for the A|X generation of consumers,” Giorgio Armani said. A|X was launched in 1991, and is aimed at urban, fast-fashion consumers.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

GROUP EFFORT: Presenting his first Legion of Honor award last Thursday, PPR chief Francois-Henri Pinault pinned the red Chevalier medallion on one of his key executives: Yves Saint Laurent president Valerie Hermann. He addressed a packed crowd that included Pierre Berge, Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, Stefano Pilati and former PPR boss Serge Weinberg. Afterward, Pilati was relishing the fact that he was headed for a long vacation in Australia and would be “cut off” from the fashion world for a while.

BEYOND SEVENTH AVENUE: Designer Christian David Kozaki left Seventh Avenue when his self-financed collection folded after Sept. 11, 2001. He moved to Provincetown, Mass., in 2003 to become an artist. “Plunging myself into painting, drawing and printmaking was a new lease on life,” Kozaki said. “Fine art enables me to express creativity without dealing with store boutique owners, manufacturers and the myriad characters one encounters when bringing a collection to market.”

But the former sketch artist for Chloe and design assistant to Givenchy and Madame Gres still has designing in his blood. Kozaki is exhibiting 50 of his nature-inspired paintings alongside 45 gowns he created at the Little Gorgeous Things Gallery, 359 Commercial Street, Provincetown, through July 29. His “Secret Gardens” floral series and “Dreamscape” depictions of sunrises, sunsets, dunes and seascapes are juxtaposed with his all-natural fiber gowns, mostly in silk. “Fabric moves, drapes, twirls, skims, caresses and accentuates the human form,” he said. “Paint does the same thing — albeit on the canvas surface.”

TEA TIME: Afternoon tea for dinner may seem a rather eccentric offering, but that’s just what Charlotte Ronson served up Thursday evening to celebrate the reopening of her namesake boutique in NoLIta. After showing off her renovated digs on Mulberry Street, Ronson coaxed a very downtown crowd to Alice’s Tea Cup on the Upper East Side for a dinner of pumpkin scones, cookies and dainty tea sandwiches. As a camera crew stormed the tiny eatery filming Ronson for a Soapnet series, guests like Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Ronson’s muse), Ann Dexter-Jones, Kate Young and Shoshanna Gruss happily dug into the overflowing trays. But the vitamin energy-spiked cocktails proved a harder sell. “After a second sip it gets better,” said a diplomatic Gruss of her tropical citrus one dubbed “The Alice.” The hostess, too, seemed wary. After a tentative sip of “The Charlotte,” a dragonfruit and Berry Bunch Tea concoction, Ronson delicately pushed hers aside. “You know there’s a dessert that has my name,” she offered. “But I was never lucky enough to have a mother who would make it for me.”

POP ART: Barneys New York will be adding a French touch to its displays come New York’s round of ready-to-wear shows this September. The store tapped French creative collective Surface to Air to design pop-up cardboard cutouts for its windows. The collaborators are also expected to host a party during the shows.

FASHION AND FINANCE: Coutts, the private London bank, is backing the exhibition celebrating Matthew Williamson‘s 10th anniversary in the fall at London’s Design Museum. In return, the designer is lending the 315-year-old bank a touch of his luxe hippie glamour. Williamson will host a preview of the exhibit for Coutts clients, and take a select group on a tour of his studio.

His designs will also be featured on the windows of the bank’s headquarters on London’s Strand during the exhibition’s run. “A third of our clients are female and a third are entrepreneurs, so it’s a nice brand association,” said a spokeswoman for Coutts, best known as the bank that Queen Elizabeth II uses. It’s not the first time the bank has dipped its toe into the world of fashion — Stella McCartney and Ozwald Boateng have designed credit cards for Coutts, and last year Alice Temperley held a private runway show for clients in the bank’s hallowed halls. Williamson’s exhibition opens Oct. 17.

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