TOASTING THRASH: A petite medal of the French Legion of Honor was pinned to Becca Cason Thrash’s Roland Mouret dress when she welcomed guests to the party celebrating her honor at Meg Goodman’s magnificent Houston estate. “This is a baby version of the medal for the madame chevaliers because the medal is so big and heavy it would weigh down your dress,” Thrash explained, spreading her fingers wide to approximate its size. “The French — they think of everything — except air conditioning and garbage disposals!”

A series of her closest friends toasted Thrash at the elegant poolside soiree. “When we were leaving Paris I asked Becca, ‘Where are your ribbons?’” recalled her husband, John Thrash. “I pinned it on her. We have never experienced Charles de Gaulle Airport the same way. We were whisked through. I wondered, how much do these cost? I’d like to have one.”

This story first appeared in the June 14, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Cason Thrash earned the highest French honor by raising millions for the Louvre Museum.

STILL ON THE ROAD: Prada’s road show hit Milan Monday and is traveling to New York and Boston later this week. The buzz in Milan was that the Italian luxury goods firm boasts shares that have already been oversubscribed five times. Prada is selling nearly 17 percent of its capital, or 423.3 million shares, priced between 36.50 and 48 Hong Kong dollars each, or $4.69 and $6.17 at current exchange. The final share price will be determined on Friday and the stock will start trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on June 24.

ADIEU ONCE MORE: John Martens is retiring — again. The vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus’ Beverly Hills flagship, who stepped down in 2005 only to be lured back in 2008, is giving retirement a second chance starting at the end of July. Martens initially joined Neiman Marcus from his native Johannesburg in 1974 after rising to a general manager post at South African department store Stuttaford and Co. Ltd. Neiman Marcus planted him in St. Louis and Dallas-Fort Worth before transferring him to its Beverly Hills location at 9700 Wilshire Boulevard in February 1980 on the store’s first anniversary.

“My career at Neiman Marcus, and in particular at this very special emporium, has been most rewarding,” said Martens. “I have met so many interesting and diverse people — clients, designers and vendors from Los Angeles and from all over the world, many of whom I know I will really miss.”

Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Inc., said, “John Martens is a true gentleman — elegant, gracious and charming. Fondly known as ‘Mr. Beverly Hills,’ John hosted every major fashion designer in the store — from James Galanos, Karl Lagerfeld, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein to Stella McCartney, Jason Wu and Victoria Beckham.”

Martens may do retail consulting work once he leaves Neiman Marcus, but said he has no definite plans. Neiman’s has not yet named his successor.

IT GETS BETTER: Shoe maestro Brian Atwood is ready to branch out with his diffusion B Brian Atwood line licensed to The Jones Group Inc. “We’re opening it up to bags and jewelry and not just shoes,” said Atwood of the collection, which will first hit stores in August.

Atwood was among the fashion flock that braved a downpour to attend the annual Hetrick-Martin Institute benefit in East Hampton on Saturday, along with fellow designers like Timo Weiland and Daniel Silver of Duckie Brown. The event raised more than $200,000 for the organization, which provides education and social services to gay and lesbian youth. Also navigating the tented but soggy lawn at the home of Peter Wilson and Scott Sanders was Lorenzo Martone and event chairs Brendan Monaghan of GQ, Bobby Graham of Glamour and Matthew Kelleher of Polo Ralph Lauren. Polo’s Rugby brand sponsored the evening, dressing staff in sporty head-to-toe outfits.

FROM THE ASHES: Early one Sunday morning last December, a malfunctioning window display caused an electrical fire at the de Grisogono boutique on 69th Street and Madison Avenue, which was engulfed in flames and then subsequently shuttered for repairs. Fawaz Gruosi, de Grisogono founder and president, recalled the event with a shrug. “I got the phone call at home,” Gruosi explained at a relaunch on Thursday evening. “I turned to my daughter and said, ‘Our New York store just burned to the ground.’ What can you do?”

Grace and Chris Meigher turned out for the party, chatting with Lady Liliana Cavendish, Barbie Bancroft, Daisy Soros and Elizabeth Loomis over chilled white wine, mojitos and grilled asparagus spears on passed trays. Storm clouds had been gathering overhead as the evening progressed, and Amy Fine Collins and Eleanora Kennedy slipped in just as passersby were pelted with sheets of monsoonlike rain. “Thank you for coming, despite this awful weather,” a public-relations representative cried as lightning cracked overhead. “Oh, when de Grisogono calls, we come running,” Bancroft laughed.

NEW PROJECT: The exhibition Project has hired Nickelson Wooster, the former men’s fashion director for Neiman Marcus Group Services, to curate a new section of its upcoming show in Las Vegas in August. Andrew Pollard, president of Project, said the trend in men’s wear to more tailored and sophisticated dressing prompted the show to launch an area with “more of a collection feeling,’ and turned to Wooster as the creative adviser for the area. He declined to name the brands that will be featured in the area, but said there will be 15 to 20 labels in a variety of categories, ranging from collections and shoes to accessories. “It’ll be everything the modern man needs for his wardrobe.”

The brands will not be shown in booths, but in an open installation format with lounges and no walls. “We see this as a fashion event,” Pollard said. “And Nick’s voice will be instrumental.” Wooster did not return phone calls to comment on the initiative.

GROWTH TRACK: Italy’s fashion industry expects 2011 revenues to reach 65 billion euros, or $93.2 billion at current exchange, up 7.1 percent compared to the previous year. The Italian Chamber of Fashion described the growth of sales during the last few months of 2010 as “brilliant.” Last year, revenues rose 7.4 percent to 60.7 billion euros, or $80.1 billion at average exchange rates. But the chamber warned over the weak economy in Europe, as well as the strong euro and the instability of raw materials prices.

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