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COACH POACH: Marc by Marc Jacobs design director Fred Tremblay is expected to be the next significant hire by Coach. Word is that Tremblay may be signing up just in time for a major push by Coach into women’s ready-to-wear. While details couldn’t be confirmed, WWD learned that Jacobs’ firm planned to throw Tremblay a farewell party Wednesday night.

Tremblay wouldn’t be the first high-profile hire for the New York accessories firm. In December, Coach tapped Pina Ferlisi, another Jacobs alum, who had most recently been Generra’s creative director. The $2.9 billion accessories brand also recently hired Christian Dior’s former U.S. president, Patricia Malone, to be its senior vice president of merchandising.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Over the past few years, Coach’s president and executive creative director, Reed Krakoff, has tapped rtw designers to collaborate on items. Lutz & Patmos’ Tina Lutz and Marcia Patmos worked with Coach on a line of knits, and Phillip Lim recently collaborated with Krakoff on two trenchcoats for fall.

But the latest buildup of full-time talent suggests Coach is gearing up for a significant women’s business.

ARMANI ON THE FUTURE: Giorgio Armani plans to continue going solo for at least another 15 years. “I am fine alone now, but not when I’ll be 90,” the designer, who is 73, said during the presentation of his new home collection in Milan. Armani reiterated that he is neither interested in a stock market listing nor in a private equity fund offer. “[Funds] just want to make money and then leave,” he said. “How could I talk to someone who only cares about the figures? I would rather consider a real partner, perhaps a group that already has a connection with us, that we know and that could complete the relationship with us.” When asked about beauty partner L’Oréal, which fits that description and has been long rumored to have an interest in courting the company, Armani said: “I did not say it and you will not make me say it.”

Inevitably, politics was also a topic on the agenda after the elections that returned Silvio Berlusconi to the prime minister’s office. Armani said he hopes Italian politicians — whatever their parties — will work together. “Recession or no recession, I keep busy and work hard,” he said. “Let’s hope they will do the same.”

Meanwhile, the word in Milan is that Armani will be awarded the prestigious Chevalier de la Légion D’Honneur in July, although no official announcement has been made. Actress Claudia Cardinale, a longtime friend of Armani’s, is also expected to receive the award.

GOODWIN’S GOODS: It has been a good year for “Big Love” starlet Ginnifer Goodwin. The actress has been named the third recipient of MaxMara’s Women in Film Face of the Future award, an honor bestowed upon Emily Blunt last year and Maria Bello the year before.The Italian megabrand and Women in Film will honor Goodwin with a lunch on May 7 at Sunset Tower in West Hollywood, and brand ambassador Nicola Maramotti will present her with the award at WIF’s 35th annual Crystal Awards gala June 17 at the Beverly Hilton. Goodwin, who appears next in “He’s Just Not That Into You,” is also said to be one of Gap’s fall ad campaign faces — not a bad way to keep the wardrobe stocked.

FASHION STORIES: Alber Elbaz, Martine Sitbon, Anne Valérie Hash and Jean-Louis Scherrer were among hoards of fashion folk who queued up at Paris’ Les Arts Decoratifs’ fashion museum Monday as Didier Grumbach signed copies of his updated tome, “Histoires de la Mode” (“Fashion Stories”). The reedition contains 400 new images — including a rare portrait of Nina Ricci painted by Cireuse in 1932 — as well as an added section covering the last 15 years of fashion. “Since [the onset of] globalization, the fashion world has been turned upside down,” said Grumbach, president of the French Fashion Federation.

Guests swapped their most memorable career moments. “It has to be my first collection for Lanvin, which was [totally trashed],” said Claude Montana. “It was a tragedy that had a [beautiful ending] as I survived it.”

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who said he’s gearing up for the opening of his first London flagship in June, raved about his debut show as part of the Createurs et Industriels [designers and industrialists] group founded by Andrée Putman and Grumbach in 1971. “I dressed a rock group in futurist jumpsuits,” he recalled. “Didier is the only one who embraces [creative] delirium — he was always more of an accomplice than a partner.” De Castelbajac also disclosed that he’s working on a project with Google, and is planning an exhibition of his artwork, to be held in a London gallery in September.

Also in the crowd, Vanessa Bruno said she’s working on a music compilation of American folk artists, called “Plant a Tree,” to be released in June in aid of Planet Urgence.

The designer’s latest catalogue, due to be released this month, features a clan of rising actresses and singers, including Yelle, Joana Preiss, Clotilde Hesme, Celine Salette and Mia Hansen Love, as well as the late Serge Gainsbourg’s partner, Bambou. “She’s absolutely legendary,” said Bruno of Bambou.

Jean-Louis Scherrer, meanwhile, reminisced about a major fashion show he once staged in Dallas in the Sixties, with Jackie Kennedy in the audience. “There was this incredibly grand podium, with guard dogs prowling around,” he said. “Life then was such a party.”

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