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Originally published Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Get ready to party when H&M opens; Celebrity sightings

H&M opening promises a great party, complete with red carpet and freebies

Seattle Times columnist

In certain fashionable circles, the most anticipated event of the summer is the premiere of "Sex and the City: The Movie." In Seattle, it's the arrival of fashion retailer H&M, which will be welcomed to this city with just about as much fanfare — red carpet, free gift cards and a soundtrack by Madonna, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus — only with fewer Cosmopolitans. Keep your clothes on, Miley, H&M is coming to town!

"It's a fun thing for shoppers on our opening day," said spokeswoman Lisa Sandberg. "We're working on a really good package to make sure people feel welcome. It's always a party scene."

So when's the party? Details are maddeningly elusive. The store at Westfield Southcenter — the largest H&M in the Seattle area — is expected to open first, along with other retailers in that mall's new wing. The downtown and University Village stores will open sometime between August and November, Sandberg said.

Other tidbits:

• The next designer collaboration is with avant-garde Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons. When the collection debuts in select H&M stores this fall, will Seattle make the cut? "These types of collaborations are exclusive. Less than 10 percent of stores had the Cavalli, that what makes it special," Sandberg said. "It's traditionally the big-city stores in a street location in the trendiest parts of town [that get the designer collections]. But then again, there is no fixed formula for this, so don't be surprised if it shows up." In other words: Not likely.

• There is no limit to the number of garments you can take into the H&M dressing rooms. And here's a tip: The men's and children's dressing rooms are often less busy and open to all.

• Employees don't wear uniforms; they are encouraged to express themselves through fashion and dress according to their own personality. So how do you recognize one if you need help? "They're probably the most fashionable in the room," Sandberg said. Also, they wear name tags. ...

"MY FAIR LADY" has ended its short run at the Paramount, but the specialty cocktail it inspired at Union Square Grill has earned an encore. The restaurant will continue to serve the "My Fair Lady," a gin-based drink with a back story: The cocktail was originally created by a bartender at the famed Savoy Hotel in London in honor of the original Eliza Doolittle: Julie Andrews. Isn't that loverly? ...

CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS ROUNDUP: Actor Paul Reiser with a group of friends at Barolo Ristorante, holding an unlit cigar in one hand and an adult beverage in the other ... DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, along with producers and writers from the 5th Avenue Theatre's "Shrek The Musical," having a late-night snack at Purple Cafe ... Actress Rhea Perlman raving about the Library Bistro at the Alexis Hotel.

Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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