FUNNYMAN FRANCO: Celebrities with contractual ties to the fashion world tend to take those connections very seriously — always walking the red carpet flawlessly dressed and speaking perfectly on point. Which is why it’s so refreshing to see James Franco have fun with the hand that feeds him. The Gucci spokesman told WWD on Friday that if it weren’t for the brand giving him free clothes, “I wouldn’t know what to wear.” Now a video has popped up on in which Franco spoofs his own commercial for the Gucci by Gucci fragrance. When it comes time to name-check the fragrance, Franco, doing the voice-over in a nondescript recording booth, pronounces it “Gookie by Gookie.” A producer corrects him and points out that as a spokesman he should know how to say the label. “Yeah, whatever,” Franco says. “I always thought it was Guckie.” He gives it a dozen more tries, getting increasingly frustrated, until the label devolves into a mush of slobbering sounds. “F–k you, Gooshi by Guckie,” Franco finally pleads at the end of the video and then bursts into tears. No word on whether the henley or cardigan Franco is wearing in the film is by the Italian house.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

REMODELING L&T: Among Manhattan’s big, bustling department store flagships doing massive renovations, Lord & Taylor has long seemed relatively dormant. But now its owner, the Hudson’s Bay Trading Co., is investing in the 11-floor, 650,000-square-foot unit, on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets, with a plan to overhaul the main, second and 10th floors. Much of men’s wear on one, an assortment of shirts, furnishings, accessories, socks, underwear and sleepwear, will relocate to 10, where the rest of men’s is housed. That will free up space on the main floor to grow the more robust cosmetics and women’s accessories categories. Second-floor renovations to expand contemporary sportswear are under way. About three years ago, the thought was to convert a lot of the flagship’s unproductive selling space to office space and build a tower atop the building.

Before the recession hit, the building was said to be worth between $300 million and $400 million and account for about $140 million in sales, or 10 percent of the chain’s total volume. Other big Manhattan flagships, such as Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, generate far greater percentages of their total volumes, between 20 and 25 percent.

CAMPBELL’S RETURN: Naomi Campbell could be headed back to court. Moodform Mission, a venture that helped produce and market Naomi Campbell, Cat Deluxe, Seductive Elixir and other cosmetics and fragrances for the supermodel, said it was cut out of its portion of the income last year and sued Monday for breach of contract in New York Supreme Court. Moodform claimed Campbell has made millions of dollars on the products — which were sold by affiliates of Procter & Gamble — and acknowledged it received a portion of Campbell’s fragrance and cosmetics revenues from 2001 through 2008. But the suit claims Campbell repudiated the contract without justification and began to sell the goods under a substitute licensing agreement. “We think what happened is she just decided to keep all the money for herself and not share it anymore,” said Daniel Bright, an attorney at Schwartz, Lichten & Bright, representing Moodform. “There was nothing precipitating it.” The suit is seeking undetermined damages. Campbell’s representatives could not be reached at press time.

TO THE MAX: It’s not often these days that you see excess like Champagne flowing freely and oversize jewels worn with gusto. But on Monday night at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, revelers celebrated Tony Duquette Fine Jewelry creative director Hutton Wilkinson’s new tome, “More Is More” ($75, Abrams), with such aplomb. Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey — who cohosted the event along with Saks president and chief merchandising officer Ron Frasch — pulled out a gem-studded necklace with oversize stones designed by Tony Duquette. “It was a gift for my 50th birthday,” effused Bailey, who watched as Wilkinson signed books, greeted fans and talked jewelry. “After a maximum of minimalism, this is what the world needs,” said Wilkinson, whose second book on Duquette explores the designer’s fanciful aesthetic and elaborate taste in art, decor, horticulture and jewelry. “What we all need is a visual stimulation of beauty.”

KEEPING THEIR FIGURES: Valentino was spotted having lunch Tuesday afternoon at Sant Ambroeus, the Italian restaurant on Madison Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets. He was dining with Giancarlo Giammetti and two friends, chatting away in Italian, as well as with the maître d’, who came over several times to speak with them. They ate well, but left their complimentary chocolate candies at the end. That night, Valentino was feted at a party uptown at VBH.


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