NOT SO FORBIDDEN: Yohji Yamamoto’s fashion show in China next month could top even Fendi’s on the Great Wall. The Japanese designer will show on April 24 in Beijing’s Forbidden City, according to sources, which is certain to stir some controversy, given it’s another example of China renting out its most important historic monuments. On top of that, China-Japan relations have been rocky for decades. But in an effort to defuse potential China-Japan tension over the event, Yamamoto is organizing the show in collaboration with the Chinese government and will use the occasion as a personal apology to the Chinese people for Japan’s atrocities during its World War II invasion, according to a spokesman. The event also will include the unveiling of a fellowship from the Yohji Yamamoto Fund for Peace to sponsor a Chinese designer to study in Japan or Europe for two years.

This is not the first time the Forbidden City has been the backdrop for a fashion event: The Tai Miao imperial family gardens on the outer edge of the Forbidden City — where Yamamoto’s show is scheduled — were most recently used for a runway show in the ninth season of “America’s Next Top Model.”

PHILO FACTS?: Speculation is heating up in Europe that Phoebe Philo, out of the spotlight since she exited Chloé two years ago, is hungry for a deal that would get her back in the fashion game. Sources said the London-based designer has recently been in talks with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton about a collaboration, possibly a signature collection or a design role at Celine. The likelihood of a deal could not be learned, but it is understood Philo’s salary and other demands have been stumbling blocks in talks with LVMH — and previously with other potential partners, including Compagnie Financière Richemont. Officials at Celine and LVMH declined comment on Thursday, and Philo could not be reached for comment. Since resigning from Chloé to devote time to her two young children, Philo has done consulting work at Gap in Europe while plotting a possible comeback.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: All eyes will be on French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy next week when she and President Nicolas Sarkozy pay a state visit to the U.K. as guests of the Queen at Windsor Castle. Bets are on in Paris that Christian Dior and Chanel will be among the labels the pop singer and former model will wear during a busy program that includes a state banquet; a lunch with her English counterpart, Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and a visit to the Old Royal Naval College.

This story first appeared in the March 21, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

LAPO’S NEW GIG: On Wednesday night, Fiat heir Lapo Elkann, founder of luxury fashion company Italia Independent, will be feted in New York for his new position as global special ambassador of Sheba Medical Center rehabilitation hospital in Tel Hashomer, Israel. It’s a definite change in direction for the one-time party boy and sometime Vogue model. In his new position, Elkann will act as a fund-raiser and spokesman for the hospital. Toasting him at the United Nations, the venue for the cocktail party, will be a crowd expected to include Elie Wiesel, Ron Perelman, Henry Kissinger, Nat Rothschild, Oscar de la Renta and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as the younger set, including Stavros Niarchos and Alexandra and Theodora Richards.

While the buzz continues to mount that 6267 duo Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi are the lead candidates to replace Lars Nilsson at Ferré, an IT Holding Group spokeswoman said intentions are to face the issue calmly. “This is certainly a priority but we want to take our time and think things out in a pondered manner. Nothing has been decided yet,” she said, adding the fall collection — designed by an in-house team — had received positive feedback from retailers. According to sources, unlike with Nilsson’s appointment, this time around Tonino Perna, IT Holding Group chairman, wants to decide on his own rather than be influenced by top fashion editors. And it’s not like he doesn’t know the 6267 team: The duo also has been pivotal in the relaunch of Malo, which is owned by IT Holding.