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AUTO PILOTS: Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani and BMW have come together to design a special edition BMW 7 series model. The luxury vehicle was celebrated with a bash on Thursday night, where many of the guests ruminated on their more humble auto beginnings. Sozzani remembered her first car very clearly. "It was a Mini," she said. When asked whether she was accident-prone as a young driver, she acknowledged, "some stupid things all the time — still today." Katie Lee Joel's first car was a 1991 Volvo 240, "and it was a tank," she said. Meanwhile, Chanel Iman, all of 20 years old, has already owned two Mercedes and had as many fender benders. "I never hit anyone, but two people hit me," she said. "I thought it was the end of the world."
LUCKY CHARM: You can't call Ecco Domani superstitious. The breakfast honoring this year's Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award winners took place on Friday the 13th in an apartment-like space in the Garment District, on the 13th floor. (The elevator designated it "12A.") If the emerging designers receiving the award prizes felt unlucky in their economic timing, 2002 honoree Zac Posen said he found himself in a similar boat when he held his first show after 9/11. "Our job is to creatively re-excite and re-invigorate the industry. That's what happened after 9/11, and we're at a moment when we could do it again," he said. With commercial expectations low, "it's a good time to enable yourself creatively," he said. Posen reminisced about the many benefits of the award. "Since we started [my first] show late, editors and buyers were able to get drunk before the show," thanks to winemaker Ecco Domani, he said. This year's winners were Lyn Devon, Matthew Ames, Cushnie et Ochs by Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, and Ohne Titel by Alexa Adams and Flora Gill for women's design; Corpus, by Jerrod Cornish and Keith Richardson, for men's design; jeweler Monique Péan won for accessories, and Bodkin Brooklyn designers Eviana Hartman and Samantha Pleet for sustainable design.
FREE LOVE: Yves Saint Laurent is spreading the love this Valentine's Day, giving away 12,000 black cotton tote bags, each containing images of the label's spring ad campaign and a heart-shaped USB key. Over half a million copies of the 20-page campaign booklet will be distributed in Hong Kong, London, Milan, New York, Paris and Tokyo today. A copy will be included in each tote. This will be the fifth consecutive year that creative director Stefano Pilati has reached out to a wider demographic, offering merchandise to the masses.
MABILLE'S FIRST LADY: Michelle Obama is not the only first lady championing young designers. As hostess for a recent gala dinner for the Casip-Cojasor foundation, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France's politically-charged style icon, opted for a little black dress by Alexis Mabille with a signature bow detail at the chest.
LANE'S NEW LINE: Even Hollywood jeweler Neil Lane is taking things down a notch to adapt to the recession -- sort of. Lane teamed up with retailer Rochelle Gores to design a lower price point collection of gold and diamond jewelry that sells exclusively in Gore's Melrose Avenue boutique Arcade. The collection, which includes Lane's signature gold and diamond initial pendants, earrings, bracelets and necklaces ranges from $1400 to $9500 retail, with a $26,000 bracelet thrown in for good measure. At Thursday night's launch party, which was attended by Sylvester Stallone, his wife Jennifer Flavin and their three daughters, Nicole Richie, and Kathy and Rick Hilton, Lane said he would consider expanding the lower price point collection to other stores.