SPREADING THE NEWS: Kicking off the “Printemps Loves New York” event, Ian Bickley, president of Coach International, joined the French department store’s director, Pierre Pelarrey, at the Printemps Haussmann site in Paris, for the inauguration of 11 Coach windows decorated with New Yorkthemed backdrops. Members of the public thronged along the Boulevard Haussmann to watch artists from local art collective 9eme Concept decorate the sets. Coach, which recently opened a 1,700-square-foot location on the main floor of the recently revamped store, also presented a limited edition line of bags customized by 9eme Concept in a pop-up store in the site’s basement.
WHAT THE TRUCK?: Rock band Heartschallenger’s one-moniker wonder Leyla has been lightening up lives with her cotton candy-colored Sixties ice-cream truck that also sells dime-store-type toys, and she hooked up Marc Jacobs, Colette and Kitsuné with highly stylized trucks of their own for Fashion’s Night Out. Part pop artist, part human anime, she favors girlish clothes, an eye mask made of neon pink makeup and unexpected exclamations — “My face is melting.” While the high temperatures can take their toll on her eye mask from time to time, Leyla has kept true to her pledge to keep it on until her Heartsrevolution’s first album, “Ride or Die,” makes its debut.
“I started wearing the mask because I was really scared to do a live show with our band. The album has taken much longer than I expected. I’ve worn it every day now for almost a year — it’s superempowering,” she shrugged. “The underlining theme is ‘be your own superhero and create your own action adventure.'”
That’s the message with which she aims to motivate children. “When I say children I mean anyone between 13 and 30,” she said. “As a society as a whole, we have this obsession with celebrities and perfection. I want to show kids how they can start with their own idea and create their own magical life.”
Irked by the labels and limitations people once put on her for being a teenage mother, the one-woman crusader decided to write her own story line. Six years ago, she got her first customized truck rolling and now there are a total of six vehicles serving up international icy treats in Los Angeles and New York. Swarovski Elements is helping to further her cause and promote Heartsrevolution’s new tunes with the world’s first crystallized ice-cream truck made from castoff gems. Next year that kaleidoscopic mobile will be shipped to Tokyo, Paris and beyond for a global tour that will coincide with the album’s release. Her “best friend, lover, bandmate and business partner,” Ben Pollock, is on the gig, too.
ROBERTSON’S NEW AVENUE: Dawn Robertson exited her role as president of Sean John on Friday and will assume the chief executive officer role at the Avenue chain of plus-size stores on Monday. WWD first reported Robertson’s candidacy for the post Aug. 17. Avenue is a division of Redcats USA, which is owned by France-based PPR. Robertson’s exit from Sean John leaves longtime company veteran Jeff Tweedy, executive vice president, as the senior executive at the company. Sean John declined to comment on the potential search for a new president.
TO THE CORE: Alexander Wang has finally put a name to the line of tailored essentials he launched for resort: Core. “I didn’t want the name to sound business-y,” explained Wang. “And this is about the core pieces that every girl wants to have in the closet.” He emphasized that, unlike T, these staples aren’t being spun off into a different brand. They will exist within the larger readyto- wear category and are priced similarly — although Wang won’t be showing them on the runway. “This is something that has always lived in our collection,” he said, “but I wanted to give our buyers a home that they can come back to for our tailoring. Distribution will remain the same.” Among the Core offerings this spring: leather jackets, boyfriend blazers, schoolboy shorts and vests in black and ink blue color waves.
GUCCI FAN: Marc Anthony will step onstage in Gucci on his U.S. 2010 tour, which began Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Italian luxury fashion house will dress the Grammy Award-winning salsa singer in made-to-order two-buttonsuits and tuxedos in a midnight blue, charcoal and ink color palette, with touches of white micro checks. As part of his tour, the artist will make a special appearance at the Miami Dolphins football stadium opener game on Sept. 26.
LIVE, FROM DALLAS: The 35th annual Crystal Charity Ball luncheon went high tech on Friday when the Akris runway show at the Neiman Marcus Dallas flagship was broadcast live on the retailer’s Web site. About 500 movers and shakers attended the show, viewing 60 fall and cruise looks, as well as handbags — a total of 160 pieces. Many of the guests were already sporting Akris’ crisp Swiss style in homage to visiting designer Albert Kriemler.
Akris is one of Neiman’s fastest-growing labels. “He is a fantastic talent that we believe in,” said Burt Tansky, chairman of the Neiman Marcus Group, who is retiring next month and got a standing ovation from the crowd.
Kriemler said, “The whole system of getting dressed is in an important change. We still have women who dress for business, but much more important are the women who are looking for clothing they can travel in and be less formal, but they still want this incomparable quality.”
WHAT PERMIT? It only took a New York minute for the police at Lincoln Center to shoo away Keanan Duffty’s “guerrilla fashion show.” Duffty, who is relaunching his label for spring, foresaw that. But in that short time, the designer and his five models — silently carrying signs and looking very young rocker in officer jackets, plaid shirts and skinny pants — managed to attract a crowd on the plaza, which is, after all, full of people just waiting for something to photograph. Unfazed, Keanan and the models paraded onward to 63rd Street for a bit longer. No budget, no permission, no problem.
TKO FNO: Not everyone was pleased as punch about Fashion’s Night Out being held on Rosh Hashanah and smack dab in the middle of fashion week. “I am standing here doing fittings. Do I really need to leave here at 3:30 to make sure the caterer shows up on time for tonight?” one designer said Friday at noon. “Everyone is upset. I’ve heard it from more than a dozen other designers. People are afraid to speak up and upset Vogue.”
Abe Gurko was more direct in his “I Mean What” blog. “Between the shows uptown and downtown coupled with Fashion’s Night Out, one needs an oxygen tank and a jet pack to get to where all the main events are happening around New York City,” he wrote.
TALENT SCOUT: Her father, Michael Ovitz, may have founded Creative Artists Agency and headed up the Walt Disney Co. at one point, but Kimberly Ovitz said she only asks his advice “as any normal daughter would.” During her presentation Thursday at Milk Studios, the Angeleno’s mind was more on art than business. Her Sol LeWitt-inspired collection played up squares, and models literally posed in various architectural frames. “I liked that he used squares in his work to create order out of chaos,” she explained. Ovitz is also collaborating with lensman Erik Madigan Heck to develop a phototransfer print. The California girl also is working up to her own transfer — she plans to relocate to New York, perhaps before the end of the year. “There’s a lot of talent here,” she said, sounding rather like her father.
ZANDRA’S ARIA: “It’s just an extension of what I’ve done with dresses for years,” said British designer Zandra Rhodes during intermission at a dress rehearsal of Verdi’s “Aida” at the San Francisco Opera, which coincidentally bowed Friday when Fashion’s Night Out was being celebrated.
Rhodes designed the colorful costumes and Egyptian set from the time of pharaohs using many of her signature fashion flourishes, such as squiggles, asymmetric silhouettes and bold, printed textiles in turquoise, tangerine, rose and lapis. Her signature fan pleating is used to great effect on the bald, bare-chested priests’ cassocks, interpreted as bright, stiff, floorlength hoopskirts in gold Lurex.
The performance is co-produced by the Houston and English National operas, where the show has already traveled. However, Rhodes’ work overseeing her designs hasn’t stopped. For the Golden Gate City performance, at the request of mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick, the designer created a more flowing, floor-length gown and coat for the vocalist’s character, Amneris, the Egyptian king’s daughter. A departure from the show’s more stylized Egyptian silhouettes, the costume was made in orange, as well as turquoise, for changes mirroring those in Rhodes’ fanciful sets and staging where a dramatic evil-eye motif is ever present.
Rhodes also has been busy preparing for a special Sept. 24 performance to be simulcast at the city’s ballpark, where admission is free. For the opera’s visual impact to carry over on-screen, she has had to come up with more tunics, gowns and such for the cast’s already sizeable throngs of ministers, captains, slaves and ladies-in-waiting. Her solution for such events? Indian saris that can easily and affordably be dyed, printed, painted and altered as key pieces to costumes without the designer having to bother to start from scratch. “It’s lovely to be creating and have this happen,” Rhodes told fashion students at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University last week of the experience of working on “Aida,” her third opera to design. She also was full of fashion and costume tips, including the power of polyester. “Polyester prints perfectly,” Rhodes said, as well as holds its pleats.
ROCKER VIBE: Sportmax has chosen Kim Gordon, co-founder and member of American rock band Sonic Youth, to be the creative force behind the sophomore edition of its Carte Blanche artist capsule collection.
Sportmax launched the Carte Blanche project last year with Christophe Brunnquell, art director of Purple Magazine and Le Figaro. This time around, Gordon has designed three pieces, elaborated with a watercolor technique that includes metallic ink and black acrylic. The T-shirt and dresses will have a limited production of 800 pieces and was presented at the Sportmax boutique in Milan Thursday during Vogue‘s Fashion’s Night Out.
IN STORE: Forget waiting for the postman. Those curious to view Azzaro’s capsule line for mail-order giant La Redoute should head to Colette. Until Sept. 18, the Paris boutique will be selling a few items from the collection as well as an exclusive hair comb. Azzaro’s artistic director, Vanessa Seward, on Tuesday hosted a cocktail. The glamorous range includes accessories, embellished evening dresses, knits and a threepiece pantsuit, as well as a lamé frock for little girls.
WATCH OUT: Swatch is gearing up for the launch of its New Gent collection Thursday with a party at Lapo Elkann’s Independent Ideas communications agency in Milan. A photo shoot of models wearing the watches will be snapped during the event, organized in collaboration with Italian GQ, and the postproduction processing of the images will be projected on screens throughout the room.
The collection, which consists of 10 basic and obviously colorful models, priced at $64, initially will be sold exclusively at Colette in Paris starting Wednesday and at 10 Corso Como in Milan two days later. They will be in Swatch stores worldwide starting Oct. 1.
FEELING RESTORED: Louis Vuitton was busy with more than just parties during the Venice Film Festival. Last week, Antoine Arnault, vice president of Louis Vuitton; Pietro Beccari, who had just returned from opening the company’s 33rd boutique in China, and Valérie Chapoulaud-Floquet, president of Louis Vuitton South Europe, presented the Gothic Altarpiece that the company helped restore in collaboration with Venetian Heritage Inc. UNESCO Programme.
The masterpiece with exquisite silver and gold sculptures is positioned on the altar behind a painting by Tiziano in the 12th-century San Salvador Church. A picnic lunch — out of Vuitton trunks, no less — later was held at art restorer Toto Bergamo Rossi’s 16th-century Palazzo Gradenigo, which fences in one of the rare private gardens in the city.
COS WE LOVE YOUNG ARTISTS: COS, H&M’s more sophisticated sister, soon will be planting its flag at London’s Frieze Art Fair. The label has unveiled a partnership with Frame, the section of Frieze that’s dedicated to solo artist presentations at young, innovative galleries. COS’ aim is to nurture emerging talent. “This is a natural and extraordinarily exciting partnership for us,” said COS creative director Rebekka Bay. Frieze runs from Oct. 14 to 17 in London.
FRENCH DRESSING: French designer Vanessa Bruno won’t be in Los Angeles to celebrate the opening of her first U.S. store until Oct. 21, but local fans Shiva Rose, Michele Hicks, Sienna Guillory and Tierney Gearon gathered at the Melrose store for a Champagne and croissant breakfast on Thursday and a preview of the Stéphanie Di Giusto-directed short film “Day for Night” starring Bruno’s muse, Lou Doillon (who also will attend next month’s fete). The film, which also was screened at the Paris boutique, features Bruno’s fall collection worn by Doillon and actress Valentine Fillol-Cordier on the cliffs of Normandy, dancing and signing to music by Danish indie group Efterklang. “I could only get the clothes in Paris before now, so I’m happy,” said Hicks.
A CUT ABOVE THE REST: Vidal Sassoon feted the launch of “Vidal: The Autobiography” in London Thursday. “I’m standing here feeling like the luckiest man in the world,” said Sassoon, who admitted penning his memoirs, which bowed in the U.K. this week, required brushing up on his writing skills. The celebrated stylist, who was joined by Mary Quant, Jan de Villeneuve and Liza Bruce, was not short of fans at the soiree.
“He is just the greatest,” said John Frieda. “In terms of our profession, I don’t think there is anybody who comes close to his level of personal achievement and influence.” Sassoon finished off the evening with a screening of “Vidal Sassoon The Movie.”
MEN’S CLUB: Upping the male contingent, the Chambre Syndicale has named men’s wear designers Adam Kimmel, Damir Doma and Franck Boclet, as well as French tailored brands Arnys and Zilli, as its new members of the French fashion body.
HOT GEMS: In August 2009, jewelry designer Cindy Chao’s six-figure butterfly brooch, blanketed in rubies, sapphires and diamonds, was featured on the cover of WWD. A year later, the piece is getting another moment in the spotlight: The National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian just acquired the design.
But there’s more news for the Taiwanese designer. She landed her first Stateside account with Bergdorf Goodman — a celebratory dinner will be held on Oct. 5 at Christie’s — and she’s also launching a secondary collection, exclusive to the New York retailer and Lane Crawford. Dubbed White Label, it’s priced from $11,500 to $138,880 at retail, while her core Masterpieces collection, now renamed Black Label, goes upward from $300,000.
“The new collection is more accessible for the market,” said Chao. “But there’s still no compromise. Everything’s handmade.”
The obvious difference lies in the stones. Whereas Chao’s usual designs are embellished to the hilt, the new White offerings are slightly scaled back. Her White Label branch-shaped bangles, for instance, are a sleeker version of a similarly inspired Black Label brooch, accented with dangling white diamond “leaves.” The new offerings, Chao added, also give her the opportunity to take her pricier baubles even further. “The White Label will support the company more,” explained Chao. “So, now we can concentrate on producing more exclusive jewelry without worrying about the price point or marketing.”
ANOTHER WORLD: What can industrial design learn from fashion? Plenty — and vice versa, according to Fendi’s Silvia Venturini Fendi as the Roman fashion house steps up its commitment to limited edition design objects by mounting its first-ever event during London Design Week later this month.
Starting Thursday at the Fumi gallery through Oct. 31, Fendi will present works by five designers, some of whom used Fendi elements to create objects in line with the show’s title, “In Every Dream Home.” Objects include a mahogany armoire covered in Fendi leather by Paul Kelley and a wall covering made with Fendi remnants by Rowan Mersh. The other participating designers are Freddie Yauner, Tina Roeder and Studio Glithero.
“We like the challenge of bringing to light new and interesting designers,” Venturini Fendi said. “It’s a way of nourishing creativity…getting energy from a domain that is very energetic at the moment.”
Industrial designers certainly have picked up tips from Fendi. Venturini Fendi noted Simon Hasan, a British industrial designer who participated in its “Craft Punk” initiative at Milan’s Salone del Mobile that had works created on the spot, adopted a stitching technique he discovered in Fendi’s Florence atelier that is “less painful for the hands.”
TOP TABLE: After winning a public competition, top Milanese eatery Da Giacomo, a go-to spot for the fashion circle, will be running the in-house restaurant of the Museo del Novecento, a museum dedicated to 20th century Italian art, slated to open in mid-November in the city’s main Piazza del Duomo. The menu will feature many of the same dishes served at the Da Giacomo restaurant and surf-and-turf bistro, but as the locale will be open from noon to midnight, finger foods like sandwiches and hamburgers will be available, as well.
While the name is still being decided upon, the front-runner remains Giacomo Arengario, named after the Tuscan founder of the eatery and the Thirties-era building that houses it.
PUCKER UP: You couldn’t accuse Serge Lutens of paying lip service to luxury. His new Lip Comfort balm, carried at the Les Salons du Palais Royal boutique in Paris and France’s Printemps department store, carries a price tag of 65 euros, or $82.65 at current exchange.
GENDER BENDER: Forget unisex. Swedish brand Acne has collaborated with Candy editor in chief Luis Venegas on what it bills as a transvestite, transgender and cross-dressing collection of three shirts. The limited edition line delivers quirky he-she riffs on the classic western shirt, applying a lavish pussy bow to a masculine denim style, say. Due to be launched during Paris Fashion Week in October, the shirts will be distributed in Acne stores and a selection of retailers. A new title, Candy magazine dedicates itself to transvestism, transexuality, cross dressing and androgyny.