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French actress Ardant, just back from filming "Hello Goodbye" in Israel with Gerard Dépardieu, predicted Tel Aviv could become more important than New York in 10 years. "There is so much electricity and energy," she enthused.
'SURPRISE GUESTS: St. John's Marie and Kelly Gray are expected to attend next Friday's Chanel show in Paris, but those who might be surprised by their presence should know that it's all in the name of a good cause. At a Girls Inc. event in Newport Beach, Calif., last October, Marie Gray outbid the crowd for an auction package that included two tickets to the Chanel show and a tour of Coco Chanel's Rue Cambon apartment (Barbara Cirkva, Chanel's division president for fashion, watch and fine jewelry, was a keynote speaker at the event). It remains to be seen if the mother-and-daughter team will sport Chanel or St. John for the occasion.
FULL COURT: After staging a Fendi show atop the Great Wall of China in Beijing, Karl Lagerfeld is next tackling the courtyard at LVMH's Paris headquarters, which hosts a giant Richard Serra sculpture. Lagerfeld plans to show a Fendi collection in the French capital for the first time next Friday in tandem with the opening of Fendi's new Avenue Montaigne boutique. "Karl came up with a novel way of showing: It's not static and it's not runway," hinted Fendi honcho Michael Burke backstage, noting, "The back of the store actually opens on to the courtyard." Lagerfeld will show Fendi's fall-winter line and host a party with surprise performances and DJs.
NEED A HUG?: Everybody's got strategies for dealing with a challenging business climate, but Jack Mitchell, chairman and chief executive officer of Mitchells/Richards/Marshs, has made it into an art form. Known for creating a hugging culture that has earned his specialty stores a reputation for personal service, Mitchell is about to publish his second book next month called "Hug Your People: The Proven Way to Hire, Inspire, and Recognize Your Employees to Achieve Remarkable Results." In his new book, Mitchell explores how relationships are the heart of every transaction and drive successful businesses. The book is a follow-up to Mitchell's 2003 bestseller, "Hug Your Customer," which sold 165,000 copies (and inspired 192 speeches, on Mitchell's part). "It's the logical sequel," said Mitchell, noting that he's launched a Web site and will be hitting the road with his new book. Still, the retailer, who walks about his Richards store in Greenwich, Conn., with a tape measure around his neck, added, "I love my day job."