By  on September 21, 2005

NEW YORK — A significant portion of Anna Sui's spring 2006 sample collection was stolen late Monday afternoon as it was being loaded into a truck for the Fashion Coterie show.

The theft took place at Eighth Avenue and 39th Street, where the truck was positioned. Typically, the company would have parked the truck in front of its headquarters at 250 West 39th Street, but because the area was teeming with vans and dressing rooms for the filming of "The Devil Wears Prada," Sui executives decided it would be better to move the truck down the block.

"In order to facilitate the loading of the collection and all the other things that were to be used at the Coterie, we decided it would be quicker to move the truck to the corner [of Eighth Avenue] to get things down faster, rather than trying to do it with the truck being double-parked," said Michael Pellegrino, president of Anna Sui Corp.

Sui filed a complaint with the New York City Police Department about the theft on Monday night.

The truck was attended for most of the time, except for a brief period between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. when the last few pieces of furniture and fixtures were being brought down from the showroom. That's when the theft is believed to have occurred. "It's a very busy area, but with the movie people, there are many more around so the opportunity for theft should have been less, but obviously it happened," Pellegrino said.

The lion's share of the stolen merchandise was from Sui's February delivery, which is the first for spring and typically the designer's largest of the season. Pieces from the March, April and May deliveries are also missing. This was the only sample collection. It was to be presented in the designer's showroom, at the Coterie and in Paris early next month.

Now Sui is left scrambling to reproduce the samples, and Pellegrino conceded that it will be nearly impossible to re-create many of the pieces at such short notice. However, he said: "I think there are ways to show the collection. Efforts will be made to show it with line sheets we have and swatches of fabrics. We also have the tape from the fashion show that depicts the looks."Pellegrino couldn't disclose the financial loss, but said that it was "upward of seven figures."

"It remains to be seen what the impact of this can be," he continued. "People know who we are and the kinds of clothes we make. To be able to obtain orders when we don't have samples to show will be difficult."

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