GOOD OLE U.S.A.: At least one person is not sold on the Far East as the new frontier. “I do not believe in Asia anymore,” said Jean Touitou, founder and owner of French contemporary brand A.P.C. “I know people are crazy for China, but I’m not at all. And Japan, for fashion — it’s a dead, dead country.”
Which is why Touitou is putting his money in America, New York City’s West Village, specifically, where he’s opening two stores. The first, called A.P.C. Specials, opens Tuesday at 92 Perry Street, with a twist on the standard store concept. Specials will house novelty items, such as quilts made from archived fabrics, as well as overstock from seasons past, to be priced at a discount. The second store, opening in the summer a few blocks away at 267 West 4th Street, will sell the full men’s and women’s collections. That will make three New York stores for the company. A.P.C. opened its first store on Mercer Street in 1993, but, like Asia, Touitou is over SoHo. “I don’t love what’s going around there anymore,” he says. “There’s too many chains and there’s not much personality. It’s a shopping mall situation.”
WILD THING: Dior Joaillerie’s creative director Victoire de Castellane evoked poisonous plants for her psychedelic Belladone Island collection for the French brand in 2007. Now, for a side project with the Gagosian Gallery in Paris, de Castellane has cultivated another unique batch of precious blooms, with 10 transformable hybrid jewelry objects. Dubbed fleurs d’excès, or flowers of excess, the pieces will be on show at the gallery March 3 to 26.
DONNA TO THE RESCUE: Donna Karan was called the driving force behind “Hope Help & Relief Haiti,” as she was feted Thursday night in the nation’s capital by ShelterBox USA, a U.K.-based charity that, with her help, has provided 35,000 tents and 28,000 survival kits to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti last January.
“In the U.K., we have the royalty and that is our celebrity world,” said Tom Henderson, founder and chief executive officer of the charity. “Our patron, Camilla Parker-Bowles, [the Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles], is very understated. We don’t have the same level of celebrity awareness you have here in the States, so to get into the fashion industry with Donna Karan is wonderful.”
The “Hope” initiative was formed by Karan and her Urban Zen Foundation, music executive Andrew Harrell, hotelier André Balazs and The Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now. The initiative with ShelterBox has raised about $900,000, noted Henderson, adding that Karan’s involvement has taken the charity’s effort to a new level.
“Hopefully, we will bring awareness to the fact this is not a one-night stand,” said Karan before receiving the charity’s “Humanitarian of the Year” award at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel. “This is something that will be out there for a long time. There is a lot of work to be done in Haiti and my heart is there.”
KIM CAN: Thursday was just another work night for the ubiquitous Kim Kardashian, who made an appearance with mom Kris Jenner at Revolve Clothing’s Melrose Avenue store to mark the launch of her jewelry line Belle Noel. “It’s always good to start off strong and we’ve had lots of preorders,” said Kardashian, who was decked out in leather leggings and a pair of steel-toe Louboutin pumps. She also took the opportunity to pile on some of her favorite pieces from the line, including a dagger pendant and palladium ring that she called “the perfect mixture of edgy and glam.” Pascal Mouawad, whose company manufactures the line, described Kardashian as “a great businesswoman who knows what she wants and what she likes.” He said the collection, retailing from $13 for a pair of stud earrings to $179 for gold statement necklaces would expand from 50 to 150 pieces by the end of the year.
Kardashian said the fall collection would have more of a “vintage” feel to it, drawing on her mother’s pieces and things she wore as a child. Belle Noel is sold in Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, the three Dash boutiques as well as internationally.
TOWERBROOK INVESTS IN PHASE EIGHT: TowerBrook Capital Partners LP, the private equity fund that owns Jimmy Choo, has invested in British women’s wear retailer Phase Eight. TowerBrook did not disclose the size of the stake it’s taken in Phase Eight, but Winston Ginsberg, the fund’s managing director, described it as “a significant investment.” The transaction is expected to close later this month.
Phase Eight is a midmarket women’s fashion retailer, with 88 boutiques and 143 concessions across the U.K. and Ireland. The retailer, which describes its designs as “elegant but contemporary,” was founded in 1979.
DANGEROUS CURVES: Hervé Léger by Max Azria is the Mercedes-Benz Presents label of the fall season at Lincoln Center’s New York Fashion Week. What that means is Mercedes-Benz is subsidizing the Hérve Léger show at Lincoln Center, and, during shows, a selection of Léger bandage dresses will be displayed around the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG.