By  on February 28, 2008

MADRID — Spanish designer Roberto Verino is revving up to snatch a piece of the American pie with a 25-year retrospective running Monday through March 10 at New York's Gabarron Foundation Carriage House Center for the Arts.

Verino, 63, said the upcoming exhibition, called "Roberto Verino — 25 Years of Fashion," represents "an explosion of recognition, una tarjeta de presentación [an introductory calling card]" for the brand he founded in 1982. "We are very interested in establishing ourselves in New York. We like difficult challenges. We are up to the competition there. We're prepared for the fight.

"The American consumer is the woman I have always had in mind — straightforward, sensual, intelligent," he added.

Based on a design philosophy of real clothes for real women, Verino is considered one of Spain's most successful designers, marketing his women's and men's wear collections through 100 company-owned or franchised stores in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Additional retail franchises are pending in Germany, Russia and Latvia, according to Linda Heras, Verino's director of international development.

"New York is a stepping stone to the U.S. market," she said. "Our objective is to open a store in the U.S. or shop-in-shops like we have in El Corte Inglés," Spain's major department store chain.

"The exhibition is a statement of quality and function. There are lots of clothes from the Eighties and Nineties that are still wearable," said Heras. "It will give the public a chance to see how far Roberto has come."

In addition, the company has exclusive licensing deals for fragrances (five women's scents and two men's), eyewear, watches and ceramic tiles. A home line and children's wear are on the drawing board, a spokesman confirmed.

Like other major designers here, specifically Sybilla and Adolfo Dominguez, Verino, who is backed by his own industrial infrastructure in the northwestern region of Galicia, dropped out of Madrid Fashion Week's catwalk presentations, after years of fast-paced, thematic shows, to steer the company's foreign expansion.

The retrospective, first seen in the Costume Museum here last fall, features lush, tailored materials and a timeless purity of style; signature relaxed shaping that is generally low on flash for coats, capes, jackets, pants, dresses and separates; mixed lengths and proportions; ethnic inspirations, and lingerie-influenced fabrics.

The exhibition in New York will kick off with an opening party Tuesday, which is expected to draw guests including Olatz Schnabel, Verino's ad face in the early Nineties, and Carlos Westendorp, Spain's ambassador to the U.S.

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