Two years after brand owner Procter & Gamble Co. shuttered the money-losing fashion house, the company has signed a global licensing agreement with Italy’s Gibò Co. SpA to manufacture and distribute Rochas ready-to-wear.
The first collection is to be readied for March 2009. The designer of the collection is still not decided.
“We are still evaluating the designer amidst a pool of candidates because the agreement was just finalized on Monday,” said Gibò president Franco Penè. “This license is actually more of a joint venture with Procter & Gamble because they will bring their marketing skills and we will contribute our fashion know-how to develop Rochas with rtw, knitwear and accessories.
“This new project reflected our desire to build and develop real luxury brands also by exploiting our industrial network, which is what we want to do with both Jil Sander and with this start up.”
P&G said it would continue to market Rochas fragrances in European markets, where the scents have been present for more than 80 years. While executives at the firm declined to discuss figures, industry sources estimate the brand’s beauty business drums up annual sales upward of 50 million euros, or $68.5 million at current exchange.
Founded in Paris by Marcel Rochas in the Thirties, the couture house became known for its feminine silhouettes and a corset known as the guepiere. The fashion house shuttered following the death of Rochas in 1955, and was revived in 1989 when Irish designer Peter O’Brien was brought in.
O’Brien was replaced in 2003 by Olivier Theyskens, who subsequently went on to become creative director at Nina Ricci after Rochas was closed. During his three years at Rochas, Theyskens won critical acclaim and was a favorite resource of retailers such as Barneys New York, Jeffrey and Neiman Marcus. However, it is understood the fashion business, built largely on cocktail attire and extravagant gowns that cost upward of $35,000 at retail, was a loss maker. Approximately 30 workers were affected by the 2006 shutdown.
On the beauty front, Rochas’ best-selling fragrances include the classic scent Femme, which was created in 1944, and Eau de Rochas, introduced in 1970. More recent launches include Poupée, which bowed in 2004 during Theyskens’ tenure, and the brand’s latest scent Soleil de Rochas. A fragrance project is also in the works for 2009.
According to a P&G spokeswoman, Rochas’ beauty business has put in a strong performance in its core markets of France and Spain over the past two years despite the shuttering of the fashion side of operations. “We can only benefit from the emergence of a strong high-level fashion label with the Rochas name,” she added.
P&G inherited Rochas — both its fragrance and fashion arms — in 2003, when the consumer products giant kicked off the $6.9 billion acquisition of Wella’s portfolio, which also included the fragrances for such brands as Gucci, Escada, Montblanc and Anna Sui.
At the time of the Rochas shutdown, sources indicated P&G attempted to license out the fashion business, but only received offers for an outright acquisition of the brand.
In a statement Tuesday, Gibò said Rochas would complement its stable of mostly contemporary designers. A subsidiary of Japan’s Onward Kashiyama Co. Ltd., which recently acquired Jil Sander, Gibò manufacturers and distributes a variety of clothing and accessories collections for designers including John Galliano, Paul Smith, Michael Kors, Roberto Cavalli and Antonio Marras.
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