DRESS BLUES IN THE NEWS

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Gap says "it's purely speculation" that Monica L.'s notorious blue dress came from the retailer, adding, "The FBI hasn't called us or anything." Gap has no plans to stick its famed alleged customer in an ad. Donna Karan, you may recall, stopped selling a beret after pictures appeared all over the press of Monica with the hat. Perhaps DK and Gap don't want the, uh, presidential seal to stain their reputation. Tommy Hilfiger, though, plays off the recent affair in a new ad from Arnell Group/NY showing a babe sitting on a desk with U.S. flag in the background and the red order-the-nukes phone next to her. That ad is preceded in some mags by a Tommy spread showing a dashing hunk on the White House lawn next to the presidential helicopter. Such topical dressing. Bet Tommy loves it when we talk about his ad. Bet Tommy hates it when we note 12-year-old Arkansas kid killer Andrew Golden was seen on P. 1 of every paper in the country last week wearing a snazzy Hilfiger shirt to his murder trial. Fashion to die for, you know. The judge ignored the preppy costume and convicted the Tommy boy-attired Golden boy.

Suspect is hit by a Ford

Think selling space isn't a dangerous profession? Try telling that to Lance Ford. The publisher of Maxim, in Boston to call on advertisers, was stepping out of a cab when he heard shouts of "Stop that guy." He saw a man being chased by cops. Ford blocked the alleged bad guy with his shoulder, causing him to stumble and drop what may have been a gun. The suspect then jumped out into the street. Already hit by a (Lance) Ford, he was then hit by a car and crumpled to the ground. For putting his life on the line for America, the bruised, British-born Ford didn't get so much as a pat on the back from Boston's finest.

Much a 'do about nothing

George Zimmer, the gravelly voice of Men's Wearhouse, has a swell head. Of hair. After people in focus groups said they were sure he was wearing a rug, Zimmer and agency Red Ball Tiger, San Francisco, did a campaign dispelling myths -- the Wearhouse is not a warehouse, and the boss doesn't wear a toupee. Is he pulling the wool over us? Adages asked a source who's worked with Zimmer. "I don't know," source says. "I do know that whatever it is, it's great hair." On shoots, Zimmer has been known to bring in his own stylist to pouf up the 'do in a private dressing room. OK, we'll say it's real. He guarantees it.

Staples in paper . . . Dell in Europe

Advertisers often put pressure on mags and papers to kill controversial content. How refreshing to see Staples do the opposite. The Westborough, Mass., retailer helped Boston Globe columnist and accidental plagiarist Mike Barnicle keep his job by letting the paper know it would be a less attractive ad vehicle without him. . . . Dell extends its JWT brand campaign to Europe in October.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Mercedes M. Cardona, Alice Z. Cuneo, Scott Donaton, Ann Marie Kerwin and Carol Krol.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (323) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (323) 655-8157; or e-mail, brad@crain.com.

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