SYDNEY —Australian designer Bettina Liano, famous for her glove-fit stretch jeans, is making a move on Manhattan.
The Australian fashion industry veteran, who is rebuilding her business after it financially collapsed in 2011, said Friday that she will open a boutique at on Mott Street in SoHo, on Feb. 15, and plans to open a second New York store by the end of the year.
The 450-square-foot store will open selling Liano's spring-summer "White Gothic" collection.
A silent U.S. investor is funding the brand's North American expansion. This is Liano's third lifeline in as many years after her business collapsed under debts of over seven million Australian dollars in July 2011 ($7.5 million at exchange rates for the period) and entered voluntary administration.
In May 2012, Liano signed a manufacturing/distribution licensing deal with the Melbourne-based Apparel Group, which owns the Saba, Sportscraft and Willow brands.
Liano has retained 100 percent ownership of her business, which once had a sizeable distribution network in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The designer also made a brief foray into Barneys Co-Op in 1999. All but two stores in Sydney and Melbourne have since closed.
One of Liano's big denim hits came in the late Nineties with the "Ace": a low-rise skinny jean in stretch dark denim with white triple stitching, which was seen on celebrities such as Kylie Minogue, Liz Hurley, Courtney Love, Elle Macpherson and every second Australian hipster.
"I needed to do something positive and Australia is not presenting as positive right now - everyone's been on sale for a year" said Liano. "The world just shrank with all the online stuff and I'm competing with everybody anyway here now with [U.S. and Australian dollar parity] so I may as well get amongst it...If you take out the overwhelming fact that it's the other side of the world and you just look at the business side of it, it makes perfect sense."
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia