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.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)