By  on March 3, 2005

NEW YORK — Over the years Valentino has flirted with creating a wedding dress collection in addition to the one-off couture gowns he does for stars and socialites. Now he’s ready to take the plunge.

Starting in December, more brides-to-be than ever will have the option of wearing a Valentino gown. Valentino signed a licensing deal Monday with the Spanish Pronovias Society to have Pronovias produce and distribute a bridal collection designed by Valentino in his atelier in Rome.

“Now women will be able to marry in my creations, which has been a dream of mine for some time. Now it has become a reality,” said Valentino in a statement.

Valentino has built a name for himself in the world of wedding gowns for dressing a select few like Jennifer Lopez for her nuptials with Cris Judd, French actress Clotilde Courau to Prince Emanuele Filiberto and Jackie Kennedy to Aristotle Onassis.

The designer will continue to create his couture bridal gowns for select clients.

Based in Barcelona, Pronovias is a 41-year-old company with licensing deals for Badgley Mischka, Elie by Elie Saab and Emanuel Ungaro wedding dresses.

Alberto Palatchi, founder and president of Pronovias, said, “For Pronovias, it is an honor to have signed a contract with Valentino, who has dressed the most beautiful and famous weddings for years. We are confident that it will be a very profitable collaboration, which will unite the art of Valentino and our specialization in the bridal field.”

Broadening the designer’s offerings and revitalizing the U.S. business have been a priority since Marzotto SpA acquired Valentino in May 2002. U.S. sales reportedly account for 25 percent of the company’s business.

In an interview with WWD last year, Graziano de Boni, president and chief executive officer of Valentino Inc. and Marzotto USA, the parent company’s American branch, said going into wedding gowns was “a natural” for Valentino.

Last April the company dabbled in the American bridal market by testing three flower-inspired styles, priced from $3,850 to $8,200, in its Madison Avenue store.

The new bridal collection will be unveiled in July in Barcelona at Pronovias’ annual fashion show. The event attracts 1,000 customers and 200 members of the media.Valentino wedding dresses will be sold in Valentino boutiques, select Pronovias stores and other exclusive boutiques. Within the next five years, the wedding business is expected to generate $39.3 million in sales, based on current exchange rates.

Michele Norsa, managing director and ceo of Valentino, said, “This contract follows a strategic line of the business. It also represents an extraordinary opportunity that gives young women all over the world the dream of marrying in a Valentino gown.”

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