Guest designer hits, Luella boots, and more . . .

Guests of Honor

To spice up their collections – and perhaps, give themselves a few days off – fashion and beauty honchos are inviting guest designers to break out the sketch pad. The trend started last year when a makeup line called Three Custom Color asked Sofia Coppola to concoct a lip-gloss shade. The result was Doubles, a wine-red that became its best-seller. For this season’s collection, Le Sportsac asked master potter Jonathan Adler to create its first designer collection. Dubbed Le Cute, the Adler satchels are patterned with running epithets of love for the brand (pictured, $47). “They encompass everything about what Le Sportsac means to moi,” he says. The girls behind the luxe cashmere line Lutz & Patmos asked industrial designer Yves Behar to create a limited-edition sweater (artist Sarah Morris will design a sweater for fall 2002). The result, a windbreaker made of Teflon-coated cashmere ($1,100), won’t just be on the rack at Barneys: It will be showcased at the Cooper-Hewitt “Skin” exhibit in April.

Boot Force

As much as we’ve been hearing about Texas this year, it might seem a bit ironic that it was not Lauren Bush but Luella Bartley – an English designer – who has stoked a longing for cowboy boots among New Yorkers. The trend had been gaining steam (both Christian Dior and Givenchy made them in recent seasons), but the Luella boots were a tipping point of sorts. Ogled by the models and editors who attended Bartley’s first New York show, at Bryant Park September 9, they were shown in a basic black and white, but the most coveted pair was an embroidered petal-pink. Whether this is a sign of the city’s new wave of American pride remains to be seen, but it certainly helps that these are tougher boots than we’ve worn before.

Side Order

What’s coming out of the kitchen at the city’s hottest restaurants? Muttonchops. Smooth-shaven, pretty-boy uptown mega-chefs are out; hipster chefs whose facial hair is as funky as their menus are in. It started with Wylie Dufresne (pictured, center) of 71 Clinton Fresh Food, who is as recognizable for his long, luxurious, Neil Young-circa-1970 sideburns as he is for his beer-braised short ribs. The look is spreading: two new 71 Clinton spinoffs AKA Cafe, which opened in September, and the soon-to-open Alias Restaurant are both helmed by Dufresne’s equally fuzzy-faced former saucier Scott Ehrlich and a staff who could be mistaken for actors playing Bob Cratchit. Union Pacific pinup Rocco DiSpirito’s been growing a beard and – who knows? – maybe Todd English will sprout a handlebar mustache. Are there hairnets made to deal with this?

Smart Set
Drusilla Plunkett

It may come as a surprise to the Palm Beach ladies who display their Judith Leiber bags on backlit shelves – as well as to celebrities like J.Lo and Björk who carry their Leiber bags down the red carpet – to learn that the legendary Mrs. Leiber has been in retirement for several years now. In her place is Drusilla Plunkett, a 36-year-old who learned the business both as a buyer at Bergdorf Goodman and as a designer for Paloma Picasso. She’s been with Judith Leiber for three years and is absolutely thrilled about introducing a camel named Imperial to the long list of Leiber minaudières. “He’s divine,” Plunkett says of her latest crystal concoction. There are other changes at Leiber, too. Not only is Imperial joined by a crystal owl but, for the first time, this season the label has produced bags big enough to handle more than your keys and lipstick. The day bags are made of alligator and have a rich, suede lining. So, are the long-time customers surprised to meet this young blonde during her in-store appearances? “At first,” she admits, “but really, style is ageless.”

Guest designer hits, Luella boots, and more . . .