By  on June 26, 2008

MILAN — Gianfranco Ferré SpA is building for the future.

After tapping 6267 duo Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi as creative directors in April, Ferré said Wednesday it had entered into a joint venture with Dubai-based real estate firm GIO Developments to develop and design property — the first being a $1.2 billion commercial and residential tower in Dubai.

Under the agreement, GIO will oversee construction and management of the building, while Ferré will handle all aspects of interior design. The venture will guarantee Ferré, which is owned by IT Holding, a minimum of $23 million and 10 percent royalties on the sales of interior furnishings designed by the Ferré team.

IT Holding chairman and chief executive officer Tonino Perna said the up-front cost of the project was zero, the only investment being creative resources. "It's an enormous investment [by GIO] and [represents] important earnings for us," Perna said.

The 60-story-plus tower — named Gianfranco Ferré Stresa, after the town where the late designer had his summer residence — will include high-spec luxury apartments, a small museum featuring collections from the Ferré archive and a spa. The tower is slated for completion in 2011.

Ferré's entry into the property market follows luxury hotel and/or residential developments by other Italian fashion companies, including Giorgio Armani, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari.

"Other developers may have taken an existing line and added it to their portfolio. With Gianfranco Ferré for GIO we've gone one step further and created a new entity, a world class brand we can call our own," GIO chairman Rashid Abdul Wahab Galadari said.

Perna said the venture could preface the development of a Ferré home furnishing collection, although the fashion company needed to concentrate first on the job at hand.

Perna added IT Holding would open 40 monobrand points of sale in the Middle East before the end of 2009. The group currently operates 45 boutiques there, 10 of which are dedicated to the Gianfranco Ferré, Ferré Milano and GF Ferré collections. In addition to Ferré, IT Holding owns the Malo and Exte brands and operates under license the Just Cavalli, C'N'C Costume National and Galliano labels.

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