By  on April 26, 2005

NEW YORK — New labels Fusun, Avenue Montaigne and Gina Mantelli share a few things in common. The three collections were crafted by manufacturers who had so far focused on private label goods, and each finds its origins and inspirations in Europe. Here, a look at the newcomers.

FUSUN
Fusun Dalbasar trained as a chemical engineer, but her interest in fashion prompted her to leave the chemist’s world behind and start a clothing business. She and her husband, Akin, have run the Istanbul-based design and production firm Veritas Inc., for 15 years manufacturing private label knitwear and ready-to-wear for European labels such as Marina Rinaldi and Giorgio Rossi. Now she’s launching a knitwear collection of her own, called Fusun.

“It started just as a hobby but then it grew,” Dalbasar, who once worked for German pharmaceutical giant Hoechst, recalled, sitting in her West 39th Street showroom, which opened in February. “I eventually started using hand-knitting machines, then we bought automatic machines, then once we grew bigger, we bought electronic ones.”

For the Fusun label, Dalbasar draws from Turkish textiles and Ottoman Empire ceramics for inspiration. Many pieces are created without side seams, and some pieces are knitted so that they resemble woven tweeds. Key looks include a hand-beaded pleated spaghetti strap viscose and nylon evening dress, priced at $375 wholesale, with a matching shawl, at $125, and a pleated merino knit skirt, at $190. Wholesale prices range from $75 to $410.

“I like to mix different yarns so you get a special texture and a different look,” Dalbasar said.

Dalbasar also has a capsule collection of semiprecious jewelry, featuring bold, rough stones such as turquoise and coral mixed with small beads and buttons. “Most of the pieces are inspired by jewelry women wear in Anatolia when they get married,” she said. Wholesale price points for jewelry range from $45 to $345.

The line targets upscale specialty stores. First-year wholesale sales projections are at least $1 million, according to Carol Caruana, president, adding that by 2008, she anticipates $3 million in wholesale sales.

AVENUE MONTAIGNE
New York-based Daniele Chemla, Avenue Montaigne’s president and chief executive officer, considers herself French by culture and American by adoption, and she wants her new fashion collection Avenue Montaigne to exude that sensibility. Launched quietly for spring, Avenue Montaigne is full of dressy tweed jackets with exaggerated collars, stretch pants with whimsical details, such as crystal-adorned cuff motifs, and reversible coats.

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