IN THE BAG: Rei Kawakubo — who in 2003 reinterpreted Rudi Gernreich’s iconoclastic designs, including the topless swimsuit — is about to lend her weight to another icon of Sixties fashion: Paco Rabanne. WWD has learned that Comme des Garçons is teaming up with Rabanne to reintroduce an iconic handbag from 1969. It will be unveiled in a host of new materials — some of them chosen by Kawakubo — during Paris Fashion Week. The Japanese company plans to launch the bags exclusively in six of its stores and also handle distribution to other select retailers, said Adrian Joffe, chief executive officer of Comme des Garçons International. The handbag introduction is the first new fashion volley for the Puig Group brand, which wound down Rabanne’s ready-to-wear business in 2006.
C’EST SHEIKH?: Could Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah — who exited as chairman of Kuwait retailer Villa Moda last year after clashing with its majority shareholder — be edging back into the fashion business? According to sources, Al-Sabah is in Milan this week meeting with a range of top Italian designer firms and securing tenants for the 360 Mall, the luxury mall that opened last year. It is understood certain brands that had franchise agreements with Villa Moda — the likes of Marni, Gucci and Bottega Veneta — have let them expire and are setting up new agreements or joint ventures at 360, a striking, circular complex spanning 880,000 square feet of retail space. Al-Sabah is also said to be quietly working on a new department-store concept for the shopping emporium, owned by real estate firm Tamdeen Group. According to Tamdeen’s Web site, Al-Sabah is a board member.