GWYNETH’S NEW GIG: From “Glee” cameos to penning a cookbook and launching a career in country music, Gwyneth Paltrow is clearly looking to cultivate a wider audience and her latest move fits that bill. Coach Inc. confirmed that Paltrow will also serve as a brand ambassador for the international campaign to mark its 70th anniversary this fall and next spring.
Shot by Peter Lindbergh on a Manhattan rooftop, the print, digital and outdoor ads will only be used for select markets in Asia and Europe, including France, Spain, the U.K., Portugal and China.
“I grew up in New York City and I’ve always thought of Coach as the quintessential New York brand,” Paltrow said. “I’ll never forget getting my first Coach bag.”
The images will break in international September books. Coach’s president and executive creative director Reed Krakoff called Paltrow, who in the past played model for Tod’s and Christian Dior, “a natural choice.…She embodies the spirit, energy and elegance of the Coach brand,” he said.
IN THE BAG: Jean Cassegrain, managing director of Longchamp, is to be made a Chevalier in France’s Legion of Honor. Other fashion folk to receive the state’s highest awards of merit, disclosed on Easter Monday, include Petit Bateau executive Christian Blanckaert, formerly with Hermès, and Chanel’s public relations power player Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnerre. Blanckaert is to be elevated to the level of Commander.
BURTON WAY: Sarah Burton has been quite low-key since taking over the reins at Alexander McQueen but she’ll have a coming out in New York next week.
Burton, in town for the Costume Institute benefit, will make her first-ever personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue next Tuesday, meeting a group of invited Saks clients and giving them styling advice. Saks will also offer a trunk show of the fall collection on May 10 in New York and May 12 in Beverly Hills. Saks Inc. president and chief merchandising officer Ron Frasch said that Burton’s men’s and women’s shows for fall were “simply extraordinary.”
BURCH BACKS AGAIN: Christopher Burch helped a certain Tory make it big. Now, the chief executive officer and founder of J. Christopher Capital LLC might do the same thing for Monika. Monika Chiang is the name of a new consumer lifestyle and retail brand the venture capitalist and ex-husband of Tory Burch, who remains board co-chairman of Tory Burch’s brand, is backing. A Monika Chiang store is slated to open at 108 S. Robertson Blvd. in Los Angeles near a Tory Burch store in one of the two Robertson Boulevard homes of Kitson Kids. Kitson Kids is leaving the 1,400-square-foot location that will become Monika Chiang to consolidate into a larger, roughly 5,000-square-foot spot on Robertson. A spokesperson for J. Christopher Capital said Monika Chiang would encompass handbags, jewelry, shoes and ready-to-wear, and described the brand’s upcoming assortment as a “well-curated closet of luxurious and bold must-have pieces.” Burch has been busy recently with another brand, Electric Love Army, which he has partnered on with Kelly Cutrone and Robyn Berkley. When speaking about that brand, he told WWD last month that, “I don’t ever want to compete with a brand I have in development or that I own.” Perhaps that means Monika won’t be tough rocker-chic like Kelly or East Coast social power like Tory.
DAY AND LIGHT: Leighton Meester and Vera Wang will be lighting the Empire State Building in red and white on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. The lighting will be part of a campaign to raise awareness of the need for bone marrow donors. They’ll also join Coty chief executive officer Bernd Beetz and DKMS chief operating officer Katharina Harf in honoring the 5th Annual DKMS Gala, to be held at Cipriani Wall Street Thursday evening. Meester is the face of Wang’s latest fragrance, due out from Coty Prestige this fall. The Gala will feature a performance by Mary J. Blige and will be emceed by Pharrell Williams, with expected guests including Rihanna, Iman, David Bowie, Solange Knowles, Eva Mendes and Cyndi Lauper.
CULTURE CLUB: “I couldn’t believe it. It was 2009. The economy just crashed, Women’s Wear had a daring spread on how people could still dress with an edge, and they ran a picture of me!” said Annika Connor, who was photographed back then in a Marie Antoinette-style poufy gown with a corset, at the Dangerous Liaisons-themed Young Fellows Ball.
Connor was in the crowd of 300 celebrating WWD’s 100 years of publishing on Thursday night, fittingly held at another institution with equal longevity, the landmarked National Arts Club, founded in 1898 as a gathering place for artists, writers and patrons. One of the club’s newest members, actress Carroll Baker, got sentimental, mentioning that she’s the last surviving star of the blockbuster movie “Giant,” which also starred Rock Hudson, James Dean, Dennis Hopper and of course Elizabeth Taylor. But Baker still talked fashion and her modest ways. “Liz was so extravagant. I couldn’t keep up with her. She’d say, ‘Carroll, where are your diamonds?’ and I’d say, ‘No way, I’m just a simple person.’”
Later, the crowd shifted to NAC’s Grand Gallery where Fashion Committee chair Chrishaunda Lee presented WWD with its Citation of Merit.