FORD DRIVE: Less than two months after Tom Ford opened his first store in Manhattan, sources in Europe and Asia say he's poised for a strategic retail push that could put his name and his high-end men's collection in key cities across the globe. Ford alluded to such a development during the store's opening in April. A source in Hong Kong said the Lane Crawford Joyce Group was expected to sign a deal with Ford to develop the brand in China. The high-end retailer recently inked an agreement with Stella McCartney to distribute the brand's clothing and accessories in key Far Eastern markets. Like the McCartney agreement, the Ford deal is expected to include the rollout of Ford stores. But the retail push, originally believed to be focused in the Far East, is said to be much more expansive and to include several key retail partners in addition to the Lane Crawford Joyce Group, and make the Tom Ford brand truly global. An announcement could come as early as Wednesday. A Tom Ford spokeswoman declined comment.
GETTING POLITICAL: Benetton's creative think tank, Fabrica, has brought its traveling multimedia exhibit to Milan's Triennale and is calling on Al Gore to help commemorate the occasion in its signature socially responsible fashion. The former vice president and presidential candidate will give a speech on global warming and the environment at the contemporary art museum on June 14. "Fabrica: Les Yeux Ouverts," inaugurated last year in Paris as part of Benetton's 40th-anniversary celebrations, opens today in Milan and runs through July 15. The exhibit, which examines issues such as multiculturalism, poverty and war, will move on to Palermo's Sant'Anna museum in August and Shanghai's Bund 18 in the fall.