At least half a dozen world- class designers now say they’ve received requests to create a new look for Michael Jackson. Asking top names to compete in this sweepstakes-style contest has offended some but excited others. Paris designer Thierry Mugler jetted to Los Angeles in April to meet with Jackson after he was asked for ideas. Geoffrey Beene got a letter: “I ignored it. I don’t submit sketches.” Isaac Mizrahi shipped Jackson a few things from his ready-to-wear collection, but no sketches. Giorgio Armani was consulted, considered it and refused. “Mr. Armani’s schedule is very full, so we won’t be participating,” said his spokeswoman, Gabriella Forte. Paul Beck of Gianni Versace, whose designs Jackson has worn in the past, says his office has not been contacted, which sounds like an insult of another sort. Photographers Steve Meisel, Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts have been in a similar competition. They are reportedly in the running to shoot Jackson’s video and album cover. Listen heard Ritts met this week with Jackson’s team about a photo shoot. Reached by telephone, Ritts refused to comment.
* COFFEE SPOT: Maxwell House has come out with a new product called Cappio, an iced cappuccino beverage. But there’s nothing icy about the red, wool-crepe dress Jennifer Flavin (Sylvester Stallone’s model-girlfriend) wears in the commercial. Los Angeles designer James Tarantino’s sister and business partner, Lisa, says makers of the commercial especially liked the glove-fit and front zip. Following its television debut, the dress appears with Tarantino’s fall collection at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
* THE SOUND OF CARATS: The latest sign of changing times is the Rattle Ring, a creation of New York diamond dealer John Reinhold and Perry Ellis designer Marc Jacobs. The seemingly basic-but-bulbous 18K gold band has hidden storage chambers for up to eight loose diamonds. Each little gem compartment can be opened by rotating the inner part of the ring. Falling rock star Debbie Harry; Jock Soto, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, and Los Angeles-based artist Ian Falconer are among those secretly hauling their rocks around. The rings are available from Reinhold-Caribe in New York City; prices start at $3,250 for a band with two 1/4-carat diamonds.