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SOMETHING BLUE: It looks like Alber Elbaz is ready to pop the question. Rumor has it the Lanvin designer, who is slated to show his pre-spring collection during couture in Paris next month, will also unveil his first bridal designs for the house.

TAKING A BREAK: Boudicca, the hip London-based brand of designers Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby, will skip this couture season after making a debut in Paris in January. The duo said they were busy relocating their studio. Nonetheless, they did find time to whip up their first pre-collection, which will be unveiled in Paris in a showroom presentation July 5 to 8. Broach and Kirkby said they would return to the couture circuit next year.

This story first appeared in the June 13, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

COAT CHECK: MaxMara’s popular “Coats!” exhibition, which was unveiled in Berlin last year and is now traveling to various museums around the world, will ultimately find a permanent home at the Collezione Maramotti museum opening this fall in Reggio Emilia, Italy. MaxMara chairman Luigi Maramotti revealed that news on the sidelines of the Venice Biennale last Friday, where MaxMara showed its second Art Prize for Women in collaboration with the Whitechapel gallery in London. He said the “Coats!” exhibition should arrive home in about three years. Meanwhile, the Maramotti museum’s inaugural show opening Sept. 29 will showcase the family’s collection of contemporary works by the likes of Lucio Fontana, Gerhard Richter, Ross Bleckner and David Salle.

DRIES OPENING: Dries Van Noten is expanding his retail presence. The Belgian designer, who opened a shop on Paris’ Left Bank this January, has signed deals for two new stores, in Tokyo and Singapore. The latter unit, in partnership with Club21, is expected to open in August in the Hilton Shopping Gallery. The Tokyo unit, which is scheduled to bow in March 2008 in the Minami-Aoyama district, will be a partnership with TFC. Besides Paris, Van Noten operates boutiques in Hong Kong and in his hometown of Antwerp, Belgium.

ALWAYS A JOKESTER: The “Ocean’s Thirteen” entourage literally blew into Chicago on Thursday for the premiere of the film there — the city was hit by 30 mph winds. But that didn’t stop crowds from standing for more than two hours to catch a glimpse of stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac and Ellen Barkin, and surprise guest Bruce Willis walking the red carpet before the premiere and after party, which was hosted by Vanity Fair to benefit Darfur relief efforts. So who’s the biggest joker on the set? “They’re all funny, except for Matt, he’s just the drunk,” Clooney teased at the after party at Jerry Kleiner’s new restaurant, Room 21, a onetime Al Capone liquor warehouse complete with hidden escape tunnel. “He’s got fashion problems, too.”

Partygoers who soaked up the fun included Richard Roeper of “Ebert & Roeper”; Michael Jordan’s ex-wife, Juanita Jordan; local philanthropist Richard Driehaus, and the Ike Behar family, including president Alan Behar, who noted the men’s line has provided attire for some 30 movies, including “Ocean’s Thirteen,” namely outfitting Brad Pitt, Al Pacino and Elliott Gould.

Both Ike and Alan joined the spirit of the celebrity-filled night, having many of the film’s stars sign the dress shirts they were wearing. Alan’s daughter, Jaclyn Behar, meanwhile, added to the PYT quotient, sporting a healthy tan, Missoni halter dress, black Betsey Johnson peep-toe shoes and Clooney’s autograph. “My sister will be jealous,” she said.

GROWTH SPURT: Fraser Ross, owner of the Kitson specialty stores, is in expansion mode. Following the June 21 launch of a 2,000-square-foot accessories-focused Kitson store on Robertson in L.A., a 2,000-square-foot licensed Kitson store will launch at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates in the next few weeks. Then, as early as November, Ross will launch a 7,000-square-foot store on Melrose Avenue. The two-level unit, which was formerly inhabited by specialty store Diane Merrick, is tentatively being called Kitson Melrose. The Melrose launch is Ross’ attempt to lure his local clientele back to a business that has become largely tourist-driven, due to the boutique’s regular appearances in celebrity tabloids. The store “is going back to the original Kitson concept,” Ross said. “It will be very contemporary-driven. We’ll take some brands that sell well in the store with us, but it will be less sensory overload. ‘Kitson’ is written all over [the merchandise] in the Robertson store…it won’t be like that in the new store.” Ross added that he expects four more licensed stores to open in Dubai in the next few years.

TOMMY’S DARK SIDE: With his All-American ad campaigns, Tommy Hilfiger is not the likeliest designer to suit up the cast of a Neil LaBute play, but that is just the case with MCC Theater’s “In a Dark Dark House.” The three-member cast wears Tommy Hilfiger attire throughout the show’s court-ordered psychiatric care, repressed memories of abuse and plenty of ambiguity at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in lower Manhattan. At a party at the designer’s SoHo store after last Thursday’s premiere, actress Louisa Krause admitted she pinched the vintage dress she was wearing from her Falls Church, Va., high school’s wardrobe department. Like fellow cast member Ron Livingston, Frederick Weller had Hilfiger to thank for some of his attire. Weller said of his thin-striped jacket, “I just realized I had been standing next to a rack of these jackets for about an hour upstairs. I thought, ‘I’d better move.'”

All in all, he was grateful for the designer’s support. “As long as it doesn’t interfere with the play. I think the arts are so desperate for funding. It would be different if we had to mention ‘Tommy Hilfiger’ in the dialogues.”

MIAMI BOUND: The Australian invasion of American runways will continue next month when Zimmermann makes its solo international catwalk debut at Miami Swim 2008. The show is due at Miami’s Raleigh Hotel on July 14 — two hours before Jessica Simpson‘s show delivers the event’s finale. Zimmermann is no stranger to Miami, having first exhibited at the trade fair in 1998. Two years earlier in Sydney, at the inaugural Australian Fashion Week, sisters Nicole and Simone Zimmermann decided to launch a swimwear component to their then five-year-old fashion brand. Fashion-forward with original prints, Zimmermann’s swimwear swiftly evolved into the brand’s main product, currently accounting for an estimated 50 percent of its business and sold through 50 Australian stockists and Zimmermann’s nine stand-alone boutiques, as well as 25 international retailers in 10 markets, including Barneys New York, Intermix, Scoop and Great Shapes in the U.S. But while swimwear has to date been the only Zimmermann export, the Sydney siblings are now planning a full-fledged international fashion assault. Thirty percent of their new collection in Miami will be ready-to-wear and the Zimmermanns hope to bring their party dresses and tailoring to a New York Fashion Week runway, possibly as early as September.

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