MILAN — Swedish designer Lars Nilsson will succeed Gianfranco Ferré at the late designer's house, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Ferré, owned by Italy's IT Holding SpA, said Nilsson, 40, would show his first Ferré collection in January during men's fashion week here, followed by women's wear in February.

"I'm pleased to join the house of Ferré and take this amazing creative statement in fashion forward," Nilsson told WWD, praising Ferré's reputation for "perfectionism" and tailoring.

Currently based in Paris, Nilsson said he would relocate to Milan and start work today at Ferré. Since exiting Nina Ricci in August 2006, Nilsson has been working on a signature furniture collection in his native Sweden.

In a statement, Tonino Perna, chairman of Ferré and IT Holding, said Nilsson's "sartorial approach" to fashion design would help him follow the "path of creative research which has always distinguished the work of Gianfranco Ferré."

Ferré presented its spring-summer 2008 collection here Monday night, created by an in-house team following the namesake designer's death in June at age 62 from a brain hemorrhage.

Trained at the Chambre Syndicale fashion school in Paris, Nilsson worked behind the scenes at Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior and Polo Ralph Lauren before taking on the creative director role at Bill Blass for two years.

After he was let go from Blass, he was at Ricci between 2003 and 2006. He was replaced at Ricci by Olivier Theyskens.

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