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MEN ABOUT TOWN: With the Oscars on Sunday, the Milan shows are proving to be light on major celebrities of the A-list Hollywood variety. So instead of Emily Blunt, for example, the paparazzi had James Blunt, the pretty-boy British singer, headlining the front row at Emporio Armani on Sunday.

Is he looking to trade in his regular jeans and T-shirt look for a sleeker, more luxurious Armani wardrobe? Blunt said he thought he’d better “come and see what it’s about,” but he added that, no, Armani is not suiting him up for his upcoming world tour. “I’m too short for that,” noted Blunt, who is promoting his latest album, “All the Lost Souls.” As an homage to his guest, Armani played Blunt’s “1973” as his show’s opening track.

This story first appeared in the February 19, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

On Monday at the Giorgio Armani show, a soccer star named Kaka was taking in the limelight. But don’t hold your breath waiting to see the Brazil and AC Milan player in his briefs à la David Beckham for Emporio Armani anytime soon. Kaka, a devout Catholic, prefers to show his, ahem, ball control on the pitch. “Leave it to him,” Kaka said. Beckham is fronting Emporio Armani’s underwear campaign, which was launched last month.

MODEL LIFE: Model-turned-actress Vanessa Hessler confessed she was slightly “intimidated” working with such actors as Alain Delon and Gérard Depardieu on her latest flick based on the Astérix comic series. “But we all became friends in the end,” said the still-wide-eyed 20-year-old, who is working on a film for Italian television. “This is my first and last experience for TV, though. I prefer working for the movies,” offered Hessler, prior to the D&G show on Monday.

However, Hessler said it was hard to be accepted in the movie world. “Everyone sees you as merely another pretty face, and I work really hard every day to show I am more than that,” she related.

Down the row, English model Daisy Lowe is still in the thick of the runway world. “I just moved to New York because I want to do this modeling malarkey, but I think it means I’ve more moved into a Virgin Airline Boeing 747,” the 19-year-old said. Having modeled for Agent Provocateur and French Connection, Lowe has aspirations to make clothes herself once she tires of modeling and clocking up the air miles. “I love playing with clothes,” she said.

In the meantime, Lowe is being trailed by a BBC film crew for a fly-on-the-wall documentary to be aired in May or June.

RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Cathy Horyn is back in the penalty box at Giorgio Armani. The New York Times scribe was informed by a letter from the Italian designer she would not be invited to his signature show on Monday because of what she had written about his couture show last January. Specifically, Armani charged that Horyn “belittled” his family and friends in her description of the preshow scene. At Jil Sander Monday night, Horyn declined all comment, but detailed the banning in her blog, writing, “I don’t really buy any of it, though — not the delay and certainly not the old-fashioned practice of restricting journalists [in a digital age] from shows.” A year ago, Armani and the fashion critic had a spat over Horyn’s description of a trouser style.

IN ANTICIPATION: Dolce & Gabbana expects to host the hottest list of VIPs at its show on Thursday. Monica Bellucci, Naomi Campbell, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Lindsay Lohan and French actress Fanny Ardant are all slated to attend.

LOVE LETTERS: Moschino turned to Lapo Elkann to get its message across about Love Moschino, formerly the Moschino Jeans line. “Lapo’s advertising agency, Independent Ideas, is made up of a group of young, creative minds, more in line, I believe, with our final consumer, than more established agencies,” said Moschino creative director Rossella Jardini.

Elkann said he appreciates Moschino’s irony and set about working on a message centered on love. To wit: He set up a site, and created a 2008 Love Calendar, with unique messages each month, plus a new advertising campaign. A new Web magazine, “Love News,” will display “only good news from around the world,” said Elkann.

On Wednesday, Moschino will throw a party with New Orleans brass band The Dirty Dozen and other performances.

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