By and  on September 6, 2007

MILAN — Alessandra Facchinetti is getting another chance at a major label.

On Wednesday, Valentino Fashion Group confirmed Facchinetti's appointment as creative director of the Valentino women's collections. WWD first reported on May 25 that VFG was courting Facchinetti, the former, and short-lived, head of women's wear at Gucci.

In her new role, Facchinetti, 35, will be responsible for the brand's couture and ready-to-wear collections, along with the RED and Roma secondary lines. She takes the reins from Valentino, 75, who on Tuesday revealed plans to step down in January 2008, along with his longtime business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti.

Neither Valentino nor Giammetti was available for further comment Wednesday as to their surprise decision to retire after insisting for the last nine months that they had no plans to do so. But one source said Valentino had low regard for Permira, the private equity fund whose subsidiary Red & Black Lux Sarl currently holds just over 60 percent of VFG.

Late Wednesday, Permira issued its own statement, describing Valentino as a genius and unique player in the global fashion and luxury arena. "The strength and distinctive values of the brand that Valentino has developed during his extraordinary career are the basis of the ambitious growth plan elaborated by the management and shared by Red & Black," said Gianluca Andena, co-chief executive officer at Permira.

"The Valentino business, with its strong potential, represents a key asset of the development and value-creation strategy for the whole Valentino Fashion Group," added Andena.

The news of Valentino's retirement on Tuesday threw the Italian media into a tizzy. The evening news on both public and private channels covered the announcement, with images of the designer on the runway and of his 45th anniversary retrospective at Rome's Ara Pacis in July flashing on the screen. The extensive coverage continued Wednesday in the Italian newspapers.

But while sources said Valentino's sudden decision reflected either friction with VFG's new owners or failure to reach agreement on a new three-year contract, the VFG statement Wednesday stressed that it worked with both Valentino and Giammetti to reorganize the brand's creative team.

"I am honored to be part of this project. Mr. Valentino has always been a point of reference for me, an icon of style and elegance. My admiration and respect for him are endless," said Facchinetti in the statement. "I will dedicate myself to this new adventure with great passion and enthusiasm, treasuring all that has been done to this day to present my first collection in March 2008."

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