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PAGE 2 / IDEAS, TRENDS, STYLE AND BUZZ | Fashion Notes

This Swimsuit Issue Isn't Just About Looks

March 10, 2000|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN | TIMES SENIOR FASHION WRITER

Sports Illustrated for Women, the 4-issue-old sister of the guys' sports bible, is planning its own swimsuit issue.

The project's coordinators say it won't be all beefcake in bikinis. Not only are guy and gal athletes to be featured, but it will be a functional bathing suit issue.

"It will be suits people can wear for specific body types," said spokeswoman Allison Keane, who promised that there are more surprises still under wraps until the issue hits newsstands May 4.

Before you wipe away your tears of disappointment, check out the magazine's online equivalent at http://www.siforwomen.com. The "interactive features" section of the site asks visitors to list the male athletes who should be featured. Personally, we're voting for Mark Spitz, the original swimsuit poster boy. But only if he's grown back the mustache.

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Ending much speculation, Gucci announced a series of appointments late last week at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, which Gucci bought last year.

Tom Ford isn't leaving his post as creative overseer and chief designer at Gucci. He will take on an additional role, replacing Alber Elbaz as designer of YSL's women's ready-to-wear line.

Stefano Pilati will report to Ford as women's design director for YSL, contrary to reports that he would take over for Ford at Gucci.

Pilati was most recently a senior designer for Prada's Miu Miu secondary line.

(As for the YSL couture collection, its venerable namesake did not sell that part of his business to Gucci; he still designs it himself.)

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American designer John Bartlett is in talks with his Italian employer, Byblos, about a possible change in his relationship with the Milan-based fashion house, said his New York public relations firm. Neither side is revealing exactly what's up. But if Bartlett is booted from his creative director position or merely demoted to a consultant status, it wouldn't be the first time that a prominent American designer has rolled through the revolving door of Byblos. L.A. designer Richard Tyler directed design at the house for two years just before Bartlett's reign.

Bartlett, however, is in a little deeper with Byblos. Genny, the mid-sized Italian manufacturer that owns Byblos, has for the past three years produced Bartlett's men's and women's signature collections.

The dual design duties have been grueling for the New York-based designer. Bartlett spends most of every month in Ancona, Italy, where the Genny company is based, while also directing his businesses in New York.

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You may not know her name, but Susan Dell is aiming to be as well-known as her husband, Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer Co. and one of the world's richest men. (He's worth a reported $20 billion.)

In November, Susan Dell opened a clothing store in Austin, Texas, for her new luxury ready-to-wear. She also operates a couture atelier.

With the January hiring of fashion industry veteran Linda Beauchamp, the former president of Donna Karan Menswear, Dell is beginning to build a fashion empire. She's planning a chain of stores called Susan Dell, a wholesale line and an as-yet undeveloped e-tailing venture. (No plans yet for an L.A. outlet.)

Dell's ready-to-wear sells for $325 to $3,800. (Jackets feature hidden pockets for car keys, credit cards and lipstick.) The couture costs $5,000 and $15,000. Eight of the couture creations were recently worn to the Art Ball Four, a charity event in Austin.

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Valli Herman-Cohen can be reached at valli.herman-cohen@latimes.com.

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