MILAN — Versace is forging a new path for Versus — and without Scottish designer Christopher Kane, who had a hand in the line since 2009.
The Milan-based firm said it plans to reposition its younger brand as a seasonless line with a strong digital element that will be designed by Donatella Versace in collaboration with a number of yet-to-be-named young designers, stylists and creative talents. Together they will develop capsule collections, co-branding projects and limited editions under the Versus moniker.
By mutual agreement, the company and Kane, who worked with Donatella Versace on Versus, have parted ways.
“This is consistent with Christopher’s own strategies when he first accepted to work on Versus, and we are now ready to change our approach,” Versace chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris told WWD. “He and Donatella Versace had a beautiful, personal symbiosis,” he added.
The executive underscored that there was no termination of contract but that the relationship “evolved naturally and matured, so that this was the right moment and a logical decision for everyone. We started thinking about the new Versus months ago, before the summer.”
The executive said the company plans to unveil the new Versus collections through special events not necessarily held during fashion weeks, nor in a traditional catwalk format. The first of such events is planned for March or April 2013 in New York.
“It’s an experimental, niche, lifestyle brand — a sort of laboratory, it stands for free spirit, and New York is a symbol of modernity and progress, but maybe it could go on to Shanghai or Hong Kong,” said Ferraris. The line will be for men and women but also include special items — perhaps even furniture, he said.
“This is a very exciting development for Versus, and I’m thrilled to be engaged in such a major shake-up of the fashion world’s rules,” said Donatella Versace. “I want to thank Christopher for his contribution to Versus over six seasons, during which I have been able to appreciate his extraordinary talent. Working with young, talented people, and seeing them grow and develop as I have seen Christopher do over these years, is one of the most rewarding parts of my work. I wish him all the best for the development of his own line. He will always have my total support.”
“I am so grateful to Donatella Versace for her support and the incredible opportunities she has given me,” Kane told WWD. “I respect her enormously and have learned so much from her. I have loved and appreciated working with her and will always be indebted to her. I am excited about the new Versus strategy, but the time has come to dedicate all my focus to the future of the Christopher Kane label.”
Over the weekend, Kane squelched a flurry of online reports declaring him Balenciaga’s new creative director following the exit of Nicolas Ghesquière earlier this month. Kane issued a denial saying that he was not joining the French fashion house.
Known for his use of vibrant colors, patterns and juxtaposition of texture and transparency, Kane launched his own line for spring 2007 and won the inaugural New Establishment award at the British Fashion Awards in 2011.
His collections are stocked at stores such as Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Opening Ceremony, Joyce, Colette, Liberty, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Le Bon Marché.
Ferraris highlighted the fact that Versace would leverage its in-house production facilities to develop Versus.
“It’s a structural change, a different way to develop the collections with immediate availability online, and we can do this because we have our own production platform,” he explained. “We could never do it if it depended on outside production and did not have a strategic control of production.”
The executive noted a dedicated Versus online store would be unveiled next year and that he was “banking” on the Web also for the brand’s communication.
After returning the company to the black last year and focusing on the expansion of the signature line, Ferraris said he believed this was the right moment to focus on Versus, as the firm is “ahead of plans.” The Milan-based company is expected to close 2012 with double-digit growth “even stronger” than in 2011, when the group posted a 16 percent increase in revenues.
The signature collection accounts for 80 percent of sales. Ferraris did not detail financial projections for Versus going forward, while stressing, “we believe this is the right path for the brand.”
There is one directly operated Versus store in Hong Kong and 14 franchised units in the world. Three franchised openings are confirmed in 2013, but the company plans to also open additional directly operated boutiques. There are 125 points of sale that carry the brand.
Versus was first launched in 1989. After a four-year hiatus, the brand returned in the fall of 2009. Since the fall 2010 season, Versace teamed up with Kane, who added a youthful, edgy and underground vibe.
Versus was previously under license for apparel for men and women and accessories, inked with the Facchini family, who own the Gruppo Facchini apparel manufacturer, but Ferraris brought production in-house.
Last September, Versus presented its latest collection in the family palazzo on Via Gesù, the same night of the Versace show, with a live performance by Beth Ditto.
Growth in established markets like the U.S., as well as in new regions from Brazil to Asia, helped Versace return to profit in 2011, posting earnings of 8.5 million euros, or $11.8 million, compared with a loss of 21.7 million euros, or $28.6 million, in 2010.
Revenues last year rose 16.4 percent to 340.2 million euros, or $472.6 million.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion