GIRL’S BEST FRIEND: Hong Kong socialite and jewelry designer Bao Bao Wan wore a different hat at Kenzo’s show on Saturday: guest editor for Chinese Esquire. “It’s the most read men’s wear publication in China,” she noted. Not that the jewelry trade isn’t keeping the Chinese fashion fixture busy. “I’m designing pieces for [De Beers-owned diamond jeweler] Forevermark,” she said, adding the pieces would soon be available in select stores in Hong Kong and London.

BILLIONAIRE BOYS’ CLUB: Have luxury rivals Bernard Arnault and François Pinault finally buried the hatchet? Sources said Friday the men had lunch last week at the invitation of Arnault’s billionaire buddy, the Belgian financier Albert Frères — and the economic downturn, rather than airing past grievances, was likely the main item on the agenda. A spokeswoman for Pinault said, “We are not commenting on a private meeting.” A spokesman for Arnault also declined comment. The rendezvous garnered full-page coverage in Le Figaro; however, it caught few in Paris by surprise. “They’re pragmatic men,” said one chief executive at a big fashion house.


This story first appeared in the January 26, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

FRENCH CONNECTION: John Malkovich took in the Wintle show in Paris Saturday afternoon. “I’m here with my friend Evgeny,” he said by way of explanation. Evgeny Lebedev, who is Jsen Wintle’s financial backer, is the son of Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who just bought the London Evening Standard. Malkovich said he recently passed through Bordeaux with a touring play. He is fluent in French, having spent years on stage, and residing in southern France.
A handful of French actors turned up at the Emanuel Ungaro show, including Jean-Marc Barr of “The Big Blue” fame. “I don’t know many people in fashion, but I like to come when I’m invited,” said Barr, who was laying low for a while. He said his 2007 film, “Parc,” which is based on a John Cheever novel, was just released this month, and two others are coming out this year. “We’re all in crisis, right? So all artists have to get out and sell their product a bit more,” he mused.

THE PLAY’S THE THING: At the Dior Homme show Sunday, Malcolm McLaren said casting for his musical, “The Life and Times of Christian Dior,” will be finalized in New York over the next few months. Anyone expecting the show, which McLaren has been working on for a year, to be a punk affair will be disappointed — it’s to feature authentic music of the period. French director François Ozon, meanwhile, said he’s taking “Ricky,” a movie about a baby that can fly, to the Berlin Film Festival next month, while British hip-hop musician Tricky, resident artist at the new cultural center, the 104, is setting up a studio for up-and-coming musicians here.

BY THE BOOK: Though hardly a label to operate by the book, French contemporary brand A.P.C. now has its name on several. A.P.C’s founder and designer Jean Touitou has collaborated with the Parisian publishing house Editions de Minuit to reprint two tomes by the late Tony Duvert, an under-the-radar French author. “The Spiteful Alphabet Book,” a manifesto against what Touitou describes as “French gauche caviar political correctness,” and “The Golden Earring,” which according to Touitou has “the clarity of crystal,” went on sale in its stores this month. Next up, A.P.C. is planning a book by photographer Hugh Holland featuring Californian skateboarders in the Seventies.

FORTUNOFF SUITOR?: Fortunoff is up for sale, but considering the depressed state of its business and the housing market in general, the jewelry and housewares chain won’t attract a ton of suitors. One possibility is The Hilco Organization, which invests in, and consults for, retailers, brands and manufacturers and conducts liquidations, such as Circuit City, which is ongoing. Hilco is said to have recently conducted talks with Fortunoff owner NRDC Equity Partners. Both NRDC and Hilco declined comment Friday. Last year when Fortunoff was up for sale, Hilco was bidding but lost out to NRDC, which paid $110 million. NRDC also owns Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay in Canada.

Meanwhile, sources said Fortunoff buyers are on their way to trade shows in Europe, yet it’s hardly business as usual. There’s been consolidations with some back-office functions folded into L&T. Also, plans to roll out Fortunoff jewelry shops inside Lord & Taylor stores were cut midstream. Fortunoff case lines and jewelry were planted in about a dozen L&T stores, and the old jewelry supplied by Finlay was being liquidated. Now L&T is seeking to get Finlay to resume merchandising and operating the jewelry counters. L&T also recently experimented with a 3,000-square-foot Fortunoff gift shop at one L&T unit in New Jersey, which one source described as a very successful test, despite the hard times.

VIONNET FOR THE U.K.: Britain’s government has placed a temporary export ban on 11 Madeleine Vionnet dresses to allow money to be raised to potentially keep the dresses in the U.K., the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said Friday. The dresses were purchased from Vionnet by a single British owner between 1929 and 1938. The department did not name the current owner applying to export the dresses. Among the collection are a black Chantilly lace evening dress with velvet bows, which dates from 1938, and a gold tulle evening dress made in 1939. The department has placed a fair market price on the dresses of about 450,000 pounds, or $619,000, and has deferred the decision on the export license application until April 22.
“Madeleine Vionnet is not well-known in the U.K. and is underrepresented in our public collections,” said Pamela Robertson, a member of the reviewing committee. “As well as being beautiful objects with great public appeal, these dresses form a highly important research collection for students of fashion and social history.”

HOORAH FOR HUSSEIN: Hussein Chalayan certainly isn’t short of fans, judging from the long line that snaked its way around London’s Design Museum Wednesday night. Chalayan groupies gathered at the designer’s first-ever London show, “Hussein Chalayan: From Fashion and Back,” which highlights standout looks from the inventive designer’s career. “It’s very stripped down — they’re all my favorites,” said Chalayan of the 35 looks in the compact show, which include dresses that appear to be blowing in a wind tunnel, and garments boasting moving red lasers. The designer was happy to play the host, working the door to make sure all of his pals got into the jam-packed venue. Guests included Christian Slater, Roisin Murphy, Erin O’Connor, Saffron Aldridge, Julie Verhoeven and Tom Dixon.

FULL HOUSE: It was a family reunion of sorts Wednesday night when Eric Villency hosted a dinner in honor of Elise Overland and Threeasfour, recipients of his Villency Emerging Fashion Program’s support. The designers packed the top floor of Bobo with members of their respective clans, including Hope Atherton, Ann Dexter-Jones, Justin Giunta, Aimee Mullins, Arden Wohl, Zani Gugelmann and Sarah Wynter. “I don’t think I’m thin enough for this party,” quipped one guest as he tried to squeeze his way past Threeasfour’s Adi (sporting an Icelandic sweater that was a gift from Björk). “I can’t find my date,” said Chiara Clemente, scanning the crowd for Poppy de Villeneuve. After a lengthy cocktail hour, guests sat down to a candle-lit meal of beet salad and short ribs. Tom Sachs toasted Overland (“She’s a master of her own universe”) in the back room, while revelers table-hopped in the front.

TOM FORD SINGS THE BLUES: Tom Ford is taking designer denim to a whole new stratosphere with men’s jeans that retail for $990. The jeans, hitting stores now, are made from Japanese selvedge denim that feels and looks raw, but has been pre-washed and pre-shrunken so the indigo doesn’t rub off. They also come in black or white. The seat is distinguished merely by a straight line, stitched across the pockets, and a small black tab reading TF001 or TF002. The first number designates the boot cut that Ford wears himself, and the second is a straight-leg cut. In the front, the button is plated with 18-karat gold, and the pockets are lined with the same silk as Tom Ford suits. But is the price justified for classic, unembellished jeans? If you have to ask, you can’t afford them.

DIRECTOR’S CUTS: This year’s Berlinale, the 59th Berlin International Film Festival, will have extra sparkle thanks to its new co-partner, Tesiro. The international jewelry company and diamond processor, part of Belgian Eurostar Diamond Traders, will offer an exclusive Berlinale loan collection during the film festival, which runs Feb. 5 to 15. The line consists of 50 varied sets of high-end pieces designed especially for the festival including necklaces, earrings and bracelets — around 200 pieces in total. As in previous years, Berlinale sponsors Hugo Boss plan to host a VIP showroom for directors and actors and also supply Berlinale-branded merchandise for purchase by festival attendees. Long-term partner L’Oréal Paris will provide VIP gift bags, supply makeup artists to get stars photo-ready for red-carpet events, and run a make-up studio on Potsdamer Platz between the main cinemas for film fans and passers-by.

SOMETHING OLD…: Pascale Mussard, co-artistic director at Hermès, is in the saddle of a new project: a limited edition range of projects made out of unusual and recycled materials. The items will initially be sold at the flagship Paris boutique on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

LONDON CALLING: Azzaro is coming to London — for a month. The Paris fashion house is to open a pop-up boutique on London’s trendy Mount Street on Feb. 21, with a cocktail party to fete the launch of the house’s capsule line by Jemima Khan. For the opening of couture week Monday, meanwhile, the brand will unveil its proper line of bags, consisting of leather and velvet clutch-cum-handbags with crystal closures. Meanwhile, a number of the house’s designs will appear in the French musical “Le Bal des Actrices,” starring Julie Depardieu.

DARK THOUGHTS: Rick Owens’ denim brand, Dark Shadow, has collaborated with Eastpak for fall. The collection features around 15 bag styles in charcoal, “greige” and black, plus a women’s and men’s raincoat in rubberized cotton.
COCO NUTS: Thierry Mugler has Beyoncé, and now Gaspard Yurkievich’s got CocoRosie. The diminutive Brazilian designer disclosed that he’s lined up to design the set and costumes for the musical sister act’s upcoming show at the Pompidou center in April. “It’s going to be very elaborate. The idea is that there will be no interruption between the clothes and the set, so the girls will get changed on stage,” he said of siblings Sierra Rose Casady and Bianca Leilani.

SNOW PRETTY: Gifting suites are a dime a dozen at the Sundance Film Festival, but Oakley lured an army of bold-face names to its Learn to Ride event at the Park City Mountain Resort last week. By offering up free snowboarding lessons from some of the sport’s top pros, Oakley got celebs like Christie Brinkley, Susan Sarandon, Andie McDowell, Paris Hilton, Denise Richards, Alan Cumming, Virginia Madsen, Rose Byrne, Elijah Wood, Ryan Cabrera, Terrell Owens, and fashion’s own Karolina Kurkova and Bee Shaffer to don the brand’s gear for a day on the slopes. The guests were given private lessons by Oakley team riders, including J.J. Thomas (an Olympic bronze medalist), Zach Leach, Laura Hadar and Gretchen Bleiler, over the course of four days. Partnering with Oakley for the marketing fest was Gnu Snowboards, K2 Snowboarding and New Era headwear. So who was most agile on their board? “Christina Milian and Woody Harrelson were pretty fast learners,” said Jeremy McCassey, alternative marketing manager at Oakley, who declined to name the biggest klutzes.

McCassey is planning another Learn to Ride event this June — this time for wannabe surfers, during an all-expenses-paid trip to Cabo San Lucas. So freebie-loving Hollywood types should get their publicists on the horn, pronto.


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