NEW YORK — Vera Wang has rediscovered the root of Lavender.
After more than a year on hiatus, the designer has relaunched her Lavender label, this time as a capsule evening dress collection — more in the spirit of how the line first started in 2005. Unlike that initial run, which rapidly expanded at retail but shuttered during the economic meltdown, the new Lavender launched exclusively at Neiman Marcus last month.
“This is very focused,” Wang said, sitting in her West 39th Street showroom at a preview of the pre-fall lineup. “There will be dresses that are evening-ish and some that will go into full evening. The definition of evening is so open now.
“I have two test-marketers in my house, living with me,” she added, referring to her daughters Cecilia, 21, and Josephine, 18. “They are very good for me to bounce ideas off of. They make sure they let me know what’s good, and what isn’t good, and why I am doing this, and I think that’s very real.”
Wang first launched Lavender for spring 2005 as a line of cocktail and evening dresses for dress departments, but repositioned it for spring 2007 as a contemporary business replete with separates. Lavender had wholesale sales of about $18 million and was on its way to reach $27 million when the economy crashed. At the time, sources said that a part of the problem was that Lavender, positioned at the upper end of contemporary, was too expensive for the category, and had grown to include too many stockkeeping units — at a time when shoppers were staying away from stores. Major retailers dropped the business, and Wang put it on hiatus, though the shoe license continued to operate.
“We closed Lavender because it got a little out of control,” explained Mario Grauso, president of the Vera Wang Group, who wasn’t with the company at the time. “The assortment was too large, and I think we were trying to be too many things. We relaunched it exclusively in Neiman Marcus as a specialty dress collection in the way that it started, but it’s very pointed and very specific.”
The new capsule dress line is priced from $395 to $595 at suggested retail (by contrast Lavender’s previous incarnation carried retail price points from about $200 to $800). Neiman Marcus is selling it in dress departments in 26 doors as well as at neimanmarcus.com, with 16 sku’s around 10 annual deliveries. “The consumer wants to see newness constantly,” said Wang, who, on multiple occasions, described the dresses as something her daughters would don when they hit the town, whether it’s New York or on vacation in Barbados. That’s not to say Wang didn’t infuse the line with some of her own artsy aesthetic. It includes a strapless organza dress with a jet-stone embellished sash for $395; a one-shoulder crinkle chiffon hand-ruched, draped gown with a crystal bow detail for $595, and a cotton voile multitiered pleated bustier dress for $450. Wang said she wanted the dresses to be “charming, flirty, sexy and youthful.”
“I love the fact that it’s young,” she said. “I think there is a teenager aspect to me. It doesn’t mean I can’t be sophisticated but I have a very young thought process, and I feel very comfortable in this language.”
As for the timing of the relaunch, Grauso said the company now has the right infrastructure to support the line. “We have a team we feel good about, we have the ability now to go in and manage the business,” he said. That team includes creative director Michelle Kessler Sanders, who will join the company this month from T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and Todd Bernstein, senior vice president of sales, who joined Wang from Theory last October.
Grauso declined to give sales projections. “I would imagine we would increase distribution at some point,” Grauso said. “Neiman Marcus has been an amazing partner for us, and we are very happy doing this with them.”
Wang said she would like to add handbags next but has no plans to create the soup-to-nuts sportswear mix. If she did another contemporary sportswear collection, “I wouldn’t call it Lavender,” she said.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye