MILAN — Giambattista Valli has added luxe down jackets to his creative agenda: The designer will succeed Alessandra Facchinetti as creative director of Moncler's Gamme Rouge line.
The appointment by Moncler on Monday confirms a Fashion Scoop in WWD on Jan. 10.
Valli's first collection for the firm will be unveiled for fall and for the first time in Paris during fashion week. "I wanted to stay faithful to what Moncler is about, [not forgetting that it's] a French heritage label owned by an Italian company," the designer said.
Moncler was founded in 1952 in Grenoble, France, where the brand's factory is still located.
"Giambattista Valli was my first choice because of his very modern couture sensibility that isn't that easy to find," said Remo Ruffini, Moncler's chairman, in an exclusive interview. "I liked the fact that he described his vision for the line by citing Jackie O in the mountains."
For his part, Valli reveled at the opportunity, stressing he will continue to follow Facchinetti's path in further developing the brand. "Moncler is the reference for down jackets. It's an institution, and when Ruffini approached me a few months ago I loved the idea of fusing my couture vision with an industrial product," said Valli, who coined the approach "techno-couture."
The Gamme Rouge project took off in February 2006 when Facchinetti was appointed creative director. By mixing luxurious materials such as organdy, tulle, fur and tweeds with nylon, cutting snug and structured shapes and indulging in feminine and couture-driven accoutrements such as hand-quilting, embroideries and sprinkled crystals, Facchinetti pioneered a new course for down jackets.
The Gamme Rouge collection remains only a small part of Moncler's sales, however, accounting for 5 percent of revenues. The vast majority of sales continue to come from Moncler's colorful and more basic down jackets, which retail for about $600.
Since Ruffini acquired Moncler in 2002, sales have leapt to a forecasted $222 million at current exchange rates this year from $59 million.
A further testament to the brand's success is the fact that the Paris store on Faubourg Saint-Honorè, which opened last July, hit its annual sales forecast of $4.4 million in only three months. "I was totally taken back by the success because before the store, our visibility in France was quite low," said Ruffini.The Valli-Moncler agreement includes a licensed line of quilted jackets by Moncler for Valli's signature fashion brand, dubbed "Giambattista Valli, Fabriqué par Moncler" (Giambattista Valli, Made by Moncler). That line will bow as part of the designer's fall show in Paris. The collection, whose price points have not been determined, is destined for urban rather than alpine wear.
"Moncler already has the sporty thing covered. I wanted to design something that a woman could go to work in, or wear over an evening dress," said Valli, declining to give financial projections for the line, which he plans to distribute through his label's points of sale worldwide.
Meanwhile, the Gamme Rouge and Valli collections aren't the only expansions on Moncler's mind. Next year, the brand will launch skis and high-tech skiwear that Ruffini started testing in December on ski instructors in St. Moritz. Later this year, Moncler will open a store in Chamonix, France, plus two others in mountain resorts yet to be decided.
After a co-branding stint for accessories with Fendi, Moncler brought the production in-house and will continue to focus on nylon and feathers, even for shoes and bags.
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