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IN THEIR OWN STYLE: With New York partygoers deeply embroiled in the heart of a heavy social season that has turned into a serious case of déjà vu, The Frick Collection’s annual Spring Party Monday evening for its highest level of supporters was refreshing for its lack of a high-profile sponsor. That meant guests like Helen Clay Chace (great granddaughter of Henry Clay Frick), Irene R. Aitken, Peter Jay Sharp, Alexis Gregory, Howard and Mary Phipps and Elisabeth Saint-Amand wore their own gowns as they wandered through the usually inaccessible gardens, open specially for the evening. Though of course, such strolls have their own pitfalls.

“I keep sinking into the gravel,” moaned designer Kim Hicks as she navigated the outdoor bar.

Those who stuck inside were treated to a lavish dessert buffet, including miniature cupcakes topped with pastel-hued frosting, and live music from the George Gee Orchestra as they took in the George Stubbs exhibit on display. And the fashion on display, too.

“Look at the scalloped trim,” instructed June Dyson of her vintage Carolina Herrera gown, which she paired with prescription sunglasses. “They don’t make things like they used to.”

HIT LIST: Faye Dunaway and Daryl Hannah, in black berets and toting machine guns, might not sound like a recipe for a fashion movie. But it is for Jeff Espanol, one of a swarm of filmmakers seeking funding in Cannes this week for his project, “Fashion: The Movie.” “It’s about members of the CIA who are sent to kill bad guys within the fashion industry,” growled Espanol of his would-be action thriller, set in all of the fashion spots from Saint-Tropez to Moscow. Bad guys in fashion? Who knew?

CHANGES A FOOT: Avant-garde footwear designer Benoit Meleard is said to be among a pool of designers to have been hired by the iconic French shoe brand Charles Jourdan. The team succeeds Joseph Thimister, who joined the house in July 2005. Despite ongoing financial troubles, Jourdan took a suite at the Cannes Film Festival and is said to have coaxed Angelina Jolie to order a pair. Jourdan said it plans to add ancillary accessories to its spring collection, such as handbags.

This story first appeared in the May 24, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

PUMA POWER: “I flew in this morning, and I fly out tomorrow. But I’m going to have a little fun in between,” said photographer Ryan McGinley at the Puma Urban Mobility launch in London Monday. McGinley joined Minnie Driver, Jaime Winston, Otis Ferry, Jasmine Guinness and Julia Peyton-Jones at the dinner to mark the launch of Puma’s new luxury luggage and accessories collection at Selfridges. McGinley, recently named Young Photographer of the Year by the International Centre of Photography, New York, made a short video installation to fete the occasion. After the dinner, Puma whisked its guests across town to the Hempel Hotel in Kensington, where low lighting met low sofas. “Phew, I have to get these off!” said Winston, as she plucked her ultra-high Louboutins from her feet and nestled on a sofa. Meanwhile, Ferry was feeling altogether more energetic, grabbing a Puma display bicycle from the lobby to do laps in the street. And he was never seen again.

MAD SCIENCE: Last Thursday meant more than the season’s last episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” for the Ladies Who Lunch, when a group including Tory Burch, Nancy Kissinger, Patricia Lansing, Shoshanna Gruss and Melania Trump headed to the Rockefeller University campus for the 10th annual Women & Science Spring Lecture.

“Most people don’t know what’s behind these gates,” said Gigi Mortimer of the surprisingly bucolic campus wedged between York Avenue and the FDR Drive. Any men who wandered in might have felt a bit intimidated: “The Y chromosome is not only small, it’s gene-poor,” pointed out Rockefeller professor Titia de Lange in her speech, much to the delight of the audience. Not to worry, though — many in attendance admitted they were not biochemically inclined. “I wasn’t a science girl,” Marjorie Gubelmann admitted happily. “I remember when I was eight rigging my science project — I came up with the idea of studying how plants respond to music, so I went and bought some long plants and short plants….The long plants were the ones that responded ‘well.’ I think I got a pretty good grade on that.”

A DESIGNING MIND: Investor and former fashion retailer Carmen Busquets has just unveiled her latest venture, CoutureLab, a gallery filled with one-off and limited edition fashion, furniture, jewelry and accessories in London’s Chelsea. Busquets, one of the main backers of Net-a-porter, has gone in the opposite direction from trend-led fashion, and is now offering season-less, trend-free, often handmade designs from a range of creatives around the world. Fashion designers working with her include Maurizio Galante, Duro Olowu, and L’Wren Scott, and other creatives on board include luxury leather expert Jean-Francois Ducas, jewelry designer Siki de Somalie, and sculptor Ernst Gamperl. “The idea for Couture Lab was born seven years ago, but it wasn’t the time to talk about a design ‘laboratory’ or a project that didn’t involve trends or fashion,” said Busquets, who began her fashion career as a retailer in Caracas, Venezuela. “But now, the time is right.”

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