By  on August 31, 2007

MILAN — Ferragamo has appointed Cristina Ortiz as its new creative director for ready-to-wear, following the exit of Graeme Black earlier this month.

According to Ferragamo's chief executive officer Michele Norsa, Ortiz's appointment dovetails perfectly with the company's plans to go public. Norsa confirmed an IPO is on schedule for next year and that a few shareholders' meetings are on the agenda for September and October.

"[Ortiz's] appointment fits into the [IPO] logic because it shows a desire for product renewal that will gain visibility as we plan more events worldwide," Norsa told WWD.

A native of the Canary Islands, Ortiz will join the Florentine fashion house in October to unveil her first effort for fall-winter 2008-2009.

James Ferragamo, the grandson of founder Salvatore Ferragamo, will continue to be in charge of accessories.

Ortiz previously held the same post at Brioni, where she started designing the women's wear line in February 2006. Prior to that, she was creative director at Lanvin and worked at Prada for three years.

When whittling down the list of candidates fashion recruiter Floriane De Saint Pierre helped put together, Norsa said he was eager that the designer didn't have a namesake line, a situation he judges often "incompatible."

"Ortiz is a great team worker, a listener and has great interpersonal skills. Her work experiences have also been variegated," said Norsa.

The executive believes that through her sense of color and penchant for understated elegance, Ortiz will revitalize such categories as cashmere knitwear, staple prints and small jackets that had been pushed to the back burner. Norsa also expects better design coordination between cruise, pre-collection and the runway shows.

Though he declined to give a percentage increase, he described apparel, which today accounts for 15 percent of Ferragamo's sales, as "underexploited."

Ferragamo's preliminary 2006 sales reported in January registered an 11 percent increase to 640 million euros, or $806.4 million.

In a statement, Ortiz said she is enthusiastic about working for the Italian fashion brand. "[Ferragamo] has enormous potential in the luxury goods world. Florence remains a worldwide point of reference for quality and artisanal [craftsmanship], of which Ferragamo has always been an excellent protagonist," Ortiz said.Expanding its retail network in the U.S. and Asia continues to be a priority for the company. Recent openings include shops in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Philadelphia. Units in Topanga Canyon, Calif., Troy, Mich., and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands are expected by yearend.

Imminent openings in Russia include two outposts in Moscow and one in Yekaterinburg.

In view of next year's Olympic games, earlier this month Ferragamo inaugurated two stores in China, in Beijing and Chengdu.

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