BUSTIN’ OUT: Everyone from hip-hop star Busta Rhymes and Patricia Field to sports figures Curtis Martin and Butch Lewis gathered together at jewelry designer Aurora Lopez Mejia’s private residence in SoHo to support Sylvia Rhone, president of Universal Motown, who was being honored with the Black Women in Entertainment Law Foundation’s Excellence in Business Award. Rhone, who has been instrumental in the careers of artists including En Vogue, Eve, Metallica and Missy Elliot, is happy to have Rhymes back on the label and is gearing up for the release of his eighth studio album on Dec. 9. With a new record on the horizon, Rhymes isn’t stopping there. “Anything that allows me to expand my brand — whether it’s clothing, music, films, tours, zippers, Pampers, whatever it might be — I’m all about it. If you can sell a weave to a bald-headed eagle even when a bald-headed eagle ain’t asking for one, you’re doing your job,” he said.

This story first appeared in the October 13, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

PACIOTTI & PARSONS: Cesare Paciotti, who will be in New York this week for the reopening Thursday of his renovated Madison Avenue boutique, is adding “mentor” to his résumé: The Italy-based accessories designer is launching a competition on Wednesday at Parsons The New School for Design in which four accessories design students will be selected to have their senior thesis collections, which consist of shoes and handbags, manufactured by Paciotti’s company in Civitanova Marche, Italy. Each of the four selected winners will have five pairs of shoes and three handbags produced in the factory. The collaboration came about after Simon Collins, dean of fashion at Parsons, learned of Paciotti’s longtime affiliation with the European fashion school Istituto Europeo di Design, whose students’ samples Paciotti produces in his factory. The designer, in fact, was looking to collaborate with an American school, said Collins, who was eager for students to have “the rare opportunity to learn the art of Italian shoe design from one of its masters, particularly since accessory design is such a hot field for a number of our graduating students.” The designer has upped the ante by offering a distribution deal to one grand prize-winning student, who will spend his or her January winter break at Paciotti’s workshop, overseeing the production of a shoe design — to be called the Cesare Paciotti/Parsons shoe — that will be sold worldwide in Cesare Paciotti boutiques in September.

NO MORE DRAMA: Mary J. Blige will present jeweler Lorraine Schwartz with the Accessories Council Excellence Innovator of the Year honor. The Ace Awards will be held Nov. 3 at Cipriani on 42nd Street. Jimmy Choo’s Tamara Mellon will accept the award for Brand of the Year. Previously announced honorees include Nicolas Ghesquière, Stella McCartney, Vogue’s Sally Singer, stylist Cate Adair, Elle Magazine, Banana Republic and Emilio Pucci.

SAATCHI’S NEW SPACE: Charles Saatchi’s much-hyped Saatchi Gallery made its debut at its new home in a handsome, revamped former army barracks near Chelsea’s Sloane Square Thursday. And, to mark the gallery’s opening following a three-year hiatus, when it vacated the previous location in South London, Saatchi has spotlighted the work of several Chinese artists in the sprawling, 70,000-square-foot space.

Pieces on show in the exhibition, called “The Revolution Continues: New Art From China,” range from a series of haunting portraits by Zhang Xiaogang to Liu Wei’s sculptures of miniature versions of the Colosseum in Rome and the Guggenheim in New York fashioned from unfurled dog chews, called “Love It! Bite It!.” Another of the airy, light-filled rooms is devoted to Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s work “Old Persons’ Home,” in which lifelike sculptures of old men — dressed to resemble world leaders — are slumped in electric wheelchairs that continually collide with one another in the space.

And, while Lily Allen, Dasha Zukhova and Tracey Emin were among those who turned up to fete the gallery’s opening Tuesday night, Saatchi’s wife, Nigella Lawson, was there without the art patron himself. She instead brought her former politician father, Sir Nigel Lawson, along. According to reports, the reclusive Saatchi skipped the opening to watch television at home.

UN-COMMON AFFAIR: Windy City partygoers so loved hanging out with rapper Common at Cartier’s Michigan Avenue store, they didn’t want to leave. As part of the jeweler’s Love Charity initiative, Cartier hosted a party honoring Common and benefitting the Common Ground Foundation. Organizers finally had to turn on the lights to clear the Michigan Avenue store around 10:30 p.m. Common, who invigorated the party with DJ Dummy, arrived to the squeals of teens looking to snap his picture as he exited his Rolls-Royce Phantom along Michigan Avenue. Anthony Ledru, Cartier’s vice president of retail for North America, couldn’t have been happier, since so many people walked out with shopping bags that one guest asked whether the luxury jeweler gave out gift bags. Regrettably, she was told, it did not.

MOTHER’S DAY: Celine has tapped Japan’s answer to Kate Moss, Ai Tominaga, to design a bag. The stunner said it’s a hospital bag, intended to be the perfect size for expectant moms to take to the hospital. “I’m so glad to help mothers having babies by making something useful,” Tominaga said, adding that having a baby herself inspired her. “And it’s a really pretty bag.”

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