SOCCER STRIPES: After winning the Major League Soccer championship last year, the Colorado Rapids finally met with President Obama on Monday at the White House — and were outfitted in custom-fitted Hart Schaffner Marx suits for the occasion. The gray striped suits were fashioned from worsted wool and complemented with ties in the team colors.

“I just want to point out that I got the memo and dressed appropriately in the gray suit,” quipped Obama to the team. “And some of you know, I am a soccer dad myself. I have watched my share of games over the years. And I’m used to seeing everybody gather around the ball, and then it kind of pops out somewhere. And so I want to congratulate all the players behind me for coming so far since those days, because I’m sure your parents were thinking the same thing — that these guys can’t play.” The team, in turn, presented Obama with his own Colorado Rapids jersey.

This story first appeared in the June 30, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

HARRY’S NEW GIRL: Move over, Miss Middleton. It looks as if Pippa Middleton may have been pipped to the post of girlfriend of the world’s most-loved royal bachelor. According to British press reports, Prince Harry has begun dating Florence Brudenell-Bruce, a posh and leggy model, actress and budding art collector. Brudenell-Bruce, 25, whose former boyfriend was Formula One champion Jenson Button, has modeled for Elizabeth Hurley, department store John Lewis and lingerie chain Knickerbox. She has also appeared in the Bollywood film “Love Aaj Kal,” and has most recently been filming a horror film set in Switzerland.

The press reports said Harry and his flame of seven years, Chelsea Davy, have split for good, and he’s moving on. Not that his father, Prince Charles, needs any more mouths to feed. According to Charles’ annual accounts, he had to hire three new full-time members of staff to manage his new daughter-in-law Kate Middleton’s schedule, to the tune of about 112,000 pounds, or $180,000. And that’s not even counting the cost of the wedding or the couple’s new apartment in Kensington Palace. Those figures will be released in next year’s accounts.

TOPSHOP TALK: Gwyneth Paltrow was spotted having dinner with Sir Philip Green this week at the London restaurant La Petite Maison, but she’s not going to fill Kate Moss’ boots at Topshop. An Arcadia spokesman declined to comment, but industry sources said the dinner was private, and no deal was in the works.

Paltrow is the latest female celebrity to come under speculation after dining with Green. In December, Rihanna ignited rumors about a deal after she had dinner with Green and his pal Simon Cowell at Sandy Lane in Barbados. And earlier this year, Courtney Love claimed that Green was interested in working with her, which he denied.

A ‘SHHH’ MOMENT FOR JA APPAREL: The sale of JA Apparel Corp. to Iconix Brand Group Inc. is still proceeding, although new rumblings have hit the marketplace that HMX Group is waiting in the wings after supposedly expressing interest in acquiring all of JA Apparel. HMX Group since mid-June was also interested in becoming the tailored clothing licensee. According to sources, Iconix is still the odds-on favorite to acquire the firm, for around $85 million, from J.W. Childs Associates, the private equity firm that owns JA Apparel.

One reason for the paucity of information, those sources said, is that the transaction has entered the so-called “quiet period.” In financial parlance, that’s the time period that restricts who can speak with whom before an acquisition is announced, suggesting that the sale process is moving closer to a conclusion.

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