ON THE VERGE: Wearing a slinky black gown by L’Wren Scott, Penélope Cruz dazzled the crowd at Wednesday night’s premiere of “Broken Embraces” in Madrid. It was a family affair with sister Mónica and the Cruz clan; the Bardems (but no Javier; he’s filming in Barcelona); the Almódovar regulars, or “chicas” as they’re called here: Rossy de Palma, Bibiana Fernández and prolific veteran actress Angela Molina; producer Agustín Almodóvar (brother Pedro calls him “the brains of the family”), and homegrown ready-to-wear designer David Delfin, who showed last month at New York Fashion Week. Cruz was back on home turf for the first time since winning the Oscar — and she brought it with her. “I got caught in the airport scanner,” she chuckled during a press conference earlier in the week, and added about Oscar night, “I was so nervous I only remember 10 percent of what happened.” Almodóvar said the comic-thriller, which is his 17th film, is certainly not his last: “I see myself down the road exactly like John Huston on ‘The Dead’ — behind the camera in a wheelchair and hooked up to a catheter.”
VERSACE’S HOT PROPERTY: The contents of late Gianni Versace’s Lake Como home sold for more than 7 million pounds in an auction that rolled on — unexpectedly — for 12 hours and finished late Wednesday evening. The auction netted a total of 7,411,919 pounds, or $10,390,769 — more than three-and-a-half times the pre-auction estimate of 2 million pounds. The top-selling lots included the Italian cherrywood breakfront bookcases by Karl Roos, which were originally commissioned by Princess Pauline Borghese, the sister of Napoléon Bonaparte, for the Library at Palazzo Borghese in Rome in 1814. One of the bookcases commanded five times its estimate, with a final price of 601,250 pounds, or $842,892, while the other outstripped its estimate by more than four times, fetching 481,250 pounds, or $674,664.
PANDA PARTY: Just when you thought Paris Fashion Week was over, Chinese artist Zhao Bandi is hitting the City of Lights with his own cuddly take on the game. At the city’s Palais de Tokyo art museum today, the artist will stage a fashion show with models dressed in panda-esque, monochrome costumes, meant to resemble 21st-century stereotypes of Chinese society. Characters will include the secretary, the bride, the immigrant worker and the estate agent. With toy pandas serving as a leitmotif in Bandi’s work, a selection of the artist’s photos are being exhibited concurrently in the Art Paris contemporary art salon, running until March 23.
VINTAGE VIXENS: Nicole Richie was the poster girl for mixing vintage with Cali casual at Wednesday’s boisterous bash feting the opening of What Goes Around Comes Around’s new Los Angeles location. The starlet hid the baby bump from her second pregnancy in tight Jet jeans and a canary-colored cover-up by Ossie Clark. “I’m a huge fan of Ossie Clark, and I get all of it from What Goes Around Comes Around,” Richie said in the middle of a crowd that included Matt Weiner, creator of the critically and sartorially acclaimed TV show “Mad Men,” who brought his grade-school-aged son, Arlo, a budding dandy who’s already been featured in GQ. Co-host Erin Wasson also subscribed to shop co-owner Seth Weisser’s mantra to mix and match by donning one of the store’s knit minidresses, which she paired with black thigh-high boots and a cannoli-like silver ring from her jewelry line, Lowluv. Yet for the spring 2010 installment of her collaboration with surf brand Rvca, the model isn’t seeking inspiration from vintage. Instead, she’s turning to her red-nose pit bull, Cream, for the palette drenched in mauve, pink, champagne, light brown and bronze. “The whole color combo is based on Cream,” she said.
JOIE TO THE WORLD: Contemporary L.A.-based brand Joie is gearing up to open its first store in the world — in Paris’ shopping destination du jour, the Palais Royal, this spring. “It will be the one place in the world you can see everything that we’re doing,” said founder and chief executive officer Serge Azria, who has invested $2 million in the project so far. As well as its women’s designs, Petite Joie children’s wear, plus shoes and handbags, the apartmentlike two-floor boutique will include a new Fifties-inspired lingerie line featuring floral prints and soft plaids and a Tahiti-themed fragrance collection. In collaboration with a vintage seller at Paris’ Clignancourt flea market, the store will also offer one-off vintage finds, a lace-trimmed dress, say, modified by Joie’s design teams. After the opening, slated for either April or May, Azria is planning a pan-European e-commerce site for the brand, whose overall sales doubled in 2008.
EIGHTIES REVIVAL: Balmain and Gucci may have channeled the Eighties in their fall runway shows, but Angelenos including Tatum O’Neal, Arianne Phillips, Dita Von Teese, Julie Newmar, Ann Magnuson, Courtney Love and Michael Des Barres personified the Eighties lifestyle on Tuesday at a party feting the West Coast launch of “The Stephen Sprouse Book,” written by Roger and Mauricio Padilha. Packed to the gills with partyers donning original duds designed by Sprouse — some of whom looked as if they just woke up from the Eighties — the Chateau Marmont’s tiny hotel lobby buzzed with so much energy that designer Tarina Tarantino declared it the “best party of the season!”