By  on August 1, 2006

NEW YORK — Valentino merchandise is now just a mouse click away.

Today, Valentino.com is scheduled to go live with e-commerce. The U.S. division of the Rome-based fashion house has partnered with Neiman Marcus Direct on the e-commerce venture, which is only available to the U.S. and Canada. This will be Neiman's ninth vendor e-commerce venture of this nature. The luxury retail group has similar partnerships with David Yurman, Salvatore Ferragamo, Baccarat, Elie Tahari, St. John and Zegna. This week, it is also launching similar e-commerce features for Michael Kors and Juicy Couture.

"E-commerce is one of the easiest ways to make Valentino accessible," said Graziano de Boni, president and chief executive officer of Valentino North America. "It's a way to communicate with the consumers."

The Valentino Web site, which was launched in 2004, used to feature only information on the Valentino Fashion Group, its various collections and current ad campaigns. As of today, it sells pieces from the fall 2006 ready-to-wear, Valentino Roma and Valentino R.E.D. collections, as well as sunglasses, handbags, shoes and fragrances.

Among the items available from the fall Valentino collection are a black knee-length dress for $2,480; a black and white tuxedo jacket and skirt for $3,990; a nautical skirt for $1,140; a Basquiat printed dress for $5,490, and a black and white strapless gown for $9,990. In accessories, the mix includes a pony hair leopard print and pink leather handbag for $2,150, a camel leather boot for $1,390 and brown leather pumps for $550.

"The luxury customer has become a very informed, active e-commerce spender," said Brendan Hoffman, president and ceo of Neiman Marcus Direct. "We see that, with these brands, people go on the Web sites, and they're expecting to shop. We're partnering with the brands to enable the customer to not be disappointed and to be able to have access to the merchandise wherever they live."

Valentino is expected to leverage Neiman Marcus Direct's expertise, merchandising ability and customer service in the online luxury business. Neiman Marcus Direct will fulfill the Valentino orders.

Hoffman and de Boni declined to give sales projections for the site. "It's a new channel of distribution, a new way of doing business for us," de Boni said. "It's important to be in this channel of distribution, more than how much we will make here."

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