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Salon Society: Split End?

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Libet Johnson (she of the vast fortune and Liz Taylor-size appetite for romance) and Frédéric Fekkai (he of the charming accent and magic fingers) seemed a couple for the ages, or at least a Warren Beatty movie. The July-September nature of their romance -- he's 42, she's 50 -- only made it more romantic. At the salon in L.A., says one patron, he had been flirting in his usual way but telling women he couldn't get involved because he was getting married. And New York society was hoping for a wedding that might have rivaled Tisch-Steinberg. But now, say some who know the couple, it's over. Fekkai has moved out of the vast Trump International apartment they shared and moved back to his own Upper East Side bachelor's digs, leaving solo each morning to run in the park. Says Fekkai's spokeswoman, "We have no comment. Elizabeth Johnson does not talk to the press, and Frédéric respects her wishes."

Their social circles are of mixed opinions as to who might have caused the breakup. At the discreet Stephen Knoll salon, where Anna Wintour and Cindy Crawford retreat to beautify, a partial blonde of about Johnson's age offered up her personal theory from under wads of foil. "It's no wonder," she said, before allowing her colorist to resume the process. "She is so difficult."

Another socialite was more understanding. "She has a history of serial consorts, always handsome and younger," she said. "He certainly is eye candy. But I'm relatively sure it was a scheduling problem. They both travel so much."

Another woman of means pinned the breakup on a values clash. "Frédéric is his own man. Strong men and heiresses are not always the best combination. Think of Chuck Scarborough and Anne Ford, or Charlie Rose and Amanda Burden -- they had a lot to get past. These women are very spoiled, and at the end of the day, these men want someone who will nurture them."

As for women who feel this may be an opportunity to get close to Fekkai, booking one of his $350 cuts may not be an easy answer. "He is not taking any bookings right now," said an assistant. "We don't know when he'll be back in, and he doesn't book in advance. It's just when he decides to come in -- you have to just keep calling."


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