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RUNWAY NOVICE: LeBron James had never been to a fashion show until that of Ralph Lauren on Friday morning. “I expect to see a lot of nice fashion,” James said beforehand. The Cleveland Cavalier was dressed head to toe in Ralph Lauren Purple Label — replete with a matching purple shirt and socks. “I feel comfortable wearing his clothes,” said James, adding, though, that it would be less likely for Lauren to dress his team on-court, at least not for the foreseeable future. “I am not sure we would be allowed, because of some of the sponsors,” he said.

Meanwhile, there was one noticeable absentee: For the last few years, Lauren Bush, the girlfriend of David Lauren, has been a front-row fixture at his dad’s 10 a.m. fashion show for the press, but this season, she wasn’t there. “She’ll be at the first and third shows,” said David Lauren, noting that Bush had a business appointment at 10 a.m.

This story first appeared in the September 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

GOING DUTCH: Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, two of fashion’s consummate showman, are sitting out the runway this season, WWD has learned. A spokesman for Viktor & Rolf said Friday the Amsterdam-based designers would present a spring 2009 collection during Paris Fashion Week, but off calendar. The format has yet to be revealed. Only the Brave SRL, a company controlled by Italian industrialist Renzo Rosso of Diesel, recently acquired a majority stake in Viktor & Rolf by buying shares from Franco Penè, whose company, Gibò Co. SpA, will sell, manufacture and distribute one more Viktor & Rolf collection. Only the Brave’s Staff International will take over production starting with the fall 2009 season.

COLE’S SERVICENATION: Kenneth Cole talking about philanthropy is nothing new, but getting rivaling presidential candidates and 500 other leaders to come together to spotlight the importance of community service is. The designer and social activist participated on a panel, called “Partners in Service: The Role of the Private Sector,” on Friday as part of the two-day ServiceNation Summit in New York, which included Barack Obama, John McCain and Jon Bon Jovi. “The whole initiative was extraordinary, maybe as much as anything we’ve seen in a long time,” Cole said. “One of the biggest messages is that business and philanthropy are not only not independent, they are interdependent. Service needs to be a holistic commitment throughout the organization and, in my case, it’s my life, as well. We’re in a time where government is no longer willing or able to provide that safety net, and it’s dependant on businesses.”

The goal of the summit, which invited all Americans to sign a Declaration of Service, is to “inspire an America in which, by 2020, 100 million citizens will volunteer time in schools, workplaces and faith-based and community institutions each and every year — up from 61 million today — and that increasing numbers of Americans annually will commit a year of their lives to national service,” according to Cole’s camp.

SOMETHING BORROWED?: As if any doubts remained as to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s occasion wear of preference, France’s first lady opted to wear Christian Dior twice last week. A demure, gray flannel Dior suit befit the occasion when she and President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted Pope Benedict XVI on his first official visit to France on Friday. On Wednesday, Bruni donned a violet dress by the house for President Sarkozy’s son Jean’s wedding to retail heiress Jessica Sebaoun-Darty.

LAST CALL: Jason Biggs and Joan Allen, who’ve stayed away from the tents thus far, got a fashion week photo-op in just under the buzzer, at Friday afternoon’s Badgley Mischka show. Biggs, who sat front row with his wife, actress Jenny Mollen, reported that it was the couple’s first time at the New York collections. “We thought we were cool, until we came in here and looked around,” said Mollen.

“And now we’re totally depressed and want to get the hell out of here,” added Biggs with a laugh.

Allen, meanwhile, arrived with her 14-year-old daughter, Sadie Friedman. “I just changed after school in the girls’ bathroom,” said Friedman, who often gives her mother style advice.

“She’ll say, ‘Mom, you have to wear the skinny jeans,’” said Allen. This spring, Allen will be back on Broadway for the first time in 18 years, headlining “Impressionism” with Jeremy Irons. But the screen-to-stage switch will be challenging. “It’s incredibly demanding. It’s more like being an athlete. You have to have that kind of energy and certainty every night at eight o’clock,” she said.

Also on hand for the show: Amy Grant, Heather Graham, Amanda Beard and Nastia Liukin.

FOREVER JONG: Erica Jong made her fashion week appearance at Christian Francis Roth’s show on Friday. “When Christian started showing his clothes at Neiman Marcus in the early Nineties, I fell in love with his designs,” she said. “I have a lot of his color-block suits. I wanted to wear one today, but the shoulder was too big.”

Jong is quite a fashionista. “I love Marc Jacobs, Lanvin and Etro,” she said.

While fashion show outings are a rarity for the author — her last was a Brioni show in Milan three years ago — she nevertheless loves the spectacle. “The Slavic girls with huge shoulders and cheekbones, doing their walk — nobody my height could do that walk,” said Jong, who is working on two books. “It’s like a choreography of Pavlova.” Speaking of women, the feminist also had something to say about Sarah Palin. “She described herself as a pit bull with lipstick,” Jong said. “Who could do better? She has spoken so erroneously about so many things that she has shown her ignorance.”

ALL IN GOOD FUN: Major names in Italian fashion are taking time out of their busy schedules to raise money to fight muscular dystrophy. The National Designer Soccer team, with the likes of Santo Versace, Diesel chief Renzo Rosso, Ferruccio and Massimo Ferragamo, Beatrice Trussardi, Lavinia Biagiotti, Ippolito Etro and its most recent addition, Fiat heir Lapo Elkann, will take on the Milan Pro Alumni Soccer team on Sept. 22 at the neoclassical multifunctional Arena Civica stadium during Milan Fashion Week. The designer soccer team has been raising funds for charity since 2002, brought together by a benefit for victims of the 9/11 attacks. Following the upcoming soccer match, fund-raising will go into overtime at a party organized at the nearby Old Fashion Café.

ONE BUSY MAN: Michael Roberts is one busy editor. On top of attending shows, Dolce & Gabbana toasted the Vanity Fair fashion and style director at a photo exhibit and book signing for his tome, “The Good Shepherd.” Then he opened his exhibit “Shot in Sicily” at a private viewing on Saturday night at 401 Projects & Cultural Vision, and then celebrated another book, “Fashion Victims: The Catty Catalogue of Stylish Casualties From A to Z,” on Tuesday night at Diane von Furstenberg’s Meatpacking District store. By Wednesday, Roberts had time to catch a quick breath at the public opening of “Shot in Sicily” by grabbing a glass of Prosecco while he waited to sign books. The exhibit is a collection of photographs that Roberts took during visits to the Italian city over a 20-year span. He admitted he is still progressing as a photographer, though. “I can see how much I didn’t learn [by looking at the collection of images],” he laughed.

A NEW ZEN: Stephen Ruzow, the former president of Donna Karan International and former president of the Calvin Klein bridge and better women’s sportswear division at Kellwood Co. was spotted outside the Donna Karan Collection show on Friday. The reason? Ruzow has been consulting Donna Karan on her Urban Zen business, which is next door to the designer’s show venue on Greenwich Street. “I head Urban Zen three days a week, and then Rachel Roy two days a week,” Ruzow said.

FROM REALITY TV TO REALITY: So there was no Victoria Beckham, but Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia showed up to support Christian Siriano, the first “Project Runway” winner to show the first season after he won the reality TV show. “I’m really proud of Christian,” said Klum, wearing Liberty. “Not too many from the show actually pull off a fashion week show, and he did.”

POISED AND READY: Bob Barker was nowhere in sight Friday at Tadashi Shoji’s show, but Miss USA Crystal Stewart answered a random question like it was a do-or-die pageant situation. The Star Spangled sash also gave her away. Asked if she thought that modeling objectifies women, the self-proclaimed fast-talking Texan shot back, “Not at all. I would have thought you would have asked that about pageants. With modeling, women are showcasing the clothes a designer offers. With pageantry, you are not only showing physical beauty but intelligence too.”

THE VIEW FROM ABOVE: Helen Yarmak made the trip from Russia to show off her spring collection, and an eclectic clutch of locals joined her Thursday night in at her Crown Building showroom. Damon Dash, Kim Cattrall and her beau Alan Wyse, The Met’s Harold Koda, Patricia Field, lensman Christophe von Hohenberg, former model Naty Abascal and Sharon Bush all stopped by and admired Central Park from the rooftop terrace. But Countess LuAnn de Lessep and Jill Zarin from Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” did more than relish the view: They taped a bit for an upcoming episode.

MARTHA ON MESSAGE: Sen. Barack Obama might be pulling up a stool to chat with Martha Stewart about social issues, according to the talk show host. His camp was on the horn Friday to see if that might be arranged “because he knows I care about aging issues,” she said before Ralph Rucci’s show Friday. Stewart is gunning to have “everybody” on air. That means the presidential hopefuls, their wives and even Sen. John McCain’s mother Roberta, whom Stewart sat next to at a dinner party once and “loved.” Nothing is penciled in just yet. “It’s all conversational right now because they have such tight schedules,” she said.

Asked if she had requested an interview with Sarah Palin, Stewart said no.

James Galanos, another one of Rucci’s guests, isn’t running for anything but he sure sounded like a good pitchman. After the last model’s final turn, Galanos said “No one makes clothes like him today. I loved all the soft things and the beautiful details. It was fantastic.”

KNIT MEISTER: Gilles Dufour on Tuesday will unveil an exclusive sweater collection for Browns at a dinner in London. The designer said he concocted a dozen knitwear designs for the specialty retailer and that he plans to do a larger exclusive collection for Browns next season. “The sweaters are fitted, with a gothic touch,” said Dufour, adding he hoped pals Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell would attend the launch. Dufour said he’s also consulting for fashion firms in China.

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