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Fashion down under; and more . . .


Watch Out
When Jerry Seinfeld took the mike on David Letterman's show, the fashion-conscious weren't really listening to what he had to say about his three-year absence (nothing). They were checking out his Officine Panerai watch ($2,350-$10,000 at Tourneau, 12 East 57th Street; 212-758-7300). Seinfeld isn't the Italian watchmaker's only fan: Hugh Grant, Ricky Martin, and Mike Myers all wear the brand. Ralph Lauren, a Panerai collector, sports one in a recent ad campaign. Originally made for the Italian Navy (the company also created torpedo-launching sights), Panerai watches only became available to civilians in the early nineties. Now that they've been spotted on so many high-profile fashion wrists, expect an army of followers.

Down Under Wear
Have we had enough of the English, with their skinny trousers and fish and chips and bedhead? Looks like it. Australians -- spearheaded by a spate of surly, hunky stars like Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman -- have launched the latest invasion. Aussies are making major inroads in design (Collette Dinnigan's lacy, beaded confections are flying off racks at Bond 07, 7 Bond Street; 212-677-8487); some fashion editors have begun to add Sydney's fashion week to their biannual-travel calendar. Manhattanites are even ingesting 'roo steak at Aussie restaurant Eight Mile Creek (240 Mulberry Street; 212-431-4635) -- Vegemite, however, is less popular. And Australian makeup artist Sue Devitt launched a line of sweet bath products and makeup at Barneys. In a nod to her new market, Devitt has named her lip glosses after New York beaches (Fire Island, for example, and Georgica). Perhaps New York women aren't ready, after all, for gloss in Bondi blue.

Hat Tale
Since Eugenia Kim opened her shop in 1999, her sharp, sexy hats have been a favorite among hat-wearing downtown girls. Emma Forrest, an English novelist (Namedropper) and one of those hat-happy girls, bought her first Eugenia Kim original in December. When Kim noticed her customer's name on the credit card, she was thrilled; she'd just finished Forrest's book and was a fan. So the two decided to turn their mutual admiration into something productive. Forrest wrote a series of short poems and put them -- Stephen Sprouse-style -- onto Kim's hats. A fedora trimmed with snakeskin, for example, bears a short tale of a girl sleeping with her roommate's boyfriend ($435 at Eugenia Kim, 203 East 4th Street; 212-673-9787). "Do you think it's offensive?" Forrest wonders. More likely, it's just fashion.

Smart Set
Laurence Graff
Laurence Graff is not worried about the recession. "We decided we wanted a presence here," says the gray-haired English jeweler of his first New York shop, set to open this week at 721 Madison Avenue. "We'll be here forever -- when the market is down, when the market is up." Graff, who started his business 40 years ago, specializes in diamonds: big, lucid stones in colors like pink, blue, and -- Sophia Loren's favorite -- yellow. The settings are classic and awards-show perfect, with a dazzling range of chokers, bracelets, and heavy, tiered earrings. This year, Graff will also open shops in Dubai and on the Floating City -- so it made sense, he reasons, to bring his wares to New York. "It's the first city!" he says. "Our clients are always here anyway." And given the way some of us are still spending, he'll inevitably attract more. Who, after all, doesn't want a big rock? "Diamonds are a token of love," Graff points out. "You can never have enough."


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