By  on June 27, 2006

BARCELONA — Pronovias is trimming its stable of designers as the bridal manufacturer transitions to becoming more of a retailer.

Alberto Palatchi, founder and chief executive of the company, based here, said Pronovias' licensing deals with Emanuel Ungaro and Badgley Mischka will end this year and will not be renewed. That will leave Pronovias' portfolio with four designers — Valentino, Elie Saab, Manuel Mota and the southern Spain-based Hannibal Laguna. Next year will be Valentino's second collection for the company.

"It's important not to spread yourself too thin; I'm a retailer now," Palatchi explained, referring, in part, to the November opening of a company-owned five-story flagship on London's New Bond Street and next year's scheduled opening of the largest Pronovias store in the world, an 18,000-square-foot location on New York's 52nd Street. In addition, the group plans retail launches in Tokyo and Taipei by yearend, he said.

To manage distribution logistics for the U.S. and Canada, Pronovias signed Stellae International Inc. in April, according to Stellae vice president George Daguillard. The Jamaica, N.Y.-based consulting group handles high-end fashion brands such as Christian Dior, Fendi, Comme des Garçons, Christian Lacroix and Paul Smith, he said.

Pronovias is currently distributed through 3,000 wholesale customers, 75 franchised stores and 80 company-owned shops worldwide.

Last year, the bridal group had sales of 126 million euros, or $158 million at current exchange. Sales for fiscal 2006 are expected to reach 140 million euros, or $176 million.

Earlier this month, the company invited 1,600 specialty retailers and 60 foreign journalists from 46 countries to Barcelona for a preview of 2007. The guest list, mainly customers from the multinational company's global network, included 60 U.S. retailers and major buying groups from the U.K., Italy and Germany, according to a Pronovias spokeswoman.

In addition, retailers from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Kuwait were first-time participants in the company's annual presentation, which kicked off with a nighttime catwalk show in the Barcelona fairgrounds' Pabellón Italiano featuring body-conscious silhouettes, ruffles and bows in every size and guise, laces, Empire styling and dropped waists.

This month's runway show included the likes of Bruce Willis' and Demi Moore's daughter, Rumer Willis; Andie MacDowell's daughter, Rainey Qualley, and Carmen Martínez-Bordiú, former dictator Francisco Franco's granddaughter. The Pronovias show officially closed Barcelona Bridal Week, which ran June 14-16. The week's highlights included Naomi Campbell modeling for Patricia Avendaño and the debut collection of Karl Lagerfeld for Rosa Clará, which was inspired by Greece classics.

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