MILAN — Coccapani is coming to the U.S. with a new design concept developed by creative director Riccardo Tisci.
Tisci, the young Italian designer who has brought an edgy, trendy touch to the company’s collections, was tapped by Coccapani owner Giorgio Ferrari two seasons ago.
“I realized the time had come to expand our business abroad,” said Ferrari. “In order to approach markets outside Italy, we needed to dramatically change our image and offer a more international product.”
Created in the Eighties, the brand, which was originally known as Marchese di Coccapani, catered to a ladylike woman with an inclination for classic and formal suits.
“We definitely had to do away with the Marchese part of the name. It’s not suited to our times and this new look,” said Ferrari, who made up the label from a Coccapani Villa located on the grounds of the company, in Emilia, in East-Central Italy. “My family name was too evocative.”
Ferrari said he hopes to grow volume to between $8.7 million and $10.9 million in the first three years. (Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange rates.) It’s as if the company is starting from scratch, since distribution and product are completely new.
Tisci is in charge of defining a new store concept, with high tech, innovative mannequins and big ad campaign photos in the background.
Ferrari said he’s banking on Tisci because, apart from his talent, the designer, “although young, has very clear ideas, is determined and [is] a hard worker: After 10 days with us, he had whipped up a new collection.” Tisci, after a scholarship at London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins, worked with designers and fashion houses including Antonio Berardi, Justin Oh, Stefano Guerriero, Missoni and Ratti.
Tisci, 28, also designs an eponymous line, worn by such celebrities as Kylie Minogue and Björk.
“I have carte blanche, the only guidelines Ferrari gave me right from the start was that he wanted a sensual product with an international appeal,” said Tisci.
The designer, respecting the brand’s tradition, elaborated on archival elements with his own modern touch. For example, for the fall 2003 collection, he reworked an animal print from past seasons. “I don’t really relate to this print and don’t feel it’s my own, so, with a technique used in couture, I presented it in a more conceptual version, working on the anatomy of the animal, creating a pattern out of the spine of a zebra, for example,” said Tisci.Inspired by a past collection rich in buttons and jewel details, Tisci created jackets and twinsets decorated with tiny buttons that are also functional, and, for the spring 2003 collection, he designed salmon pink metallic overalls that took the color from the palette of an earlier collection.
Although the fall group presented on the runway in Milan in March had an international appeal and at times an experimentation similar to what’s seen in London,Tisci said that, while his experience in England was pivotal in his career, he is Italian, his design team is Italian and so are his style and product. He did stress, however, that he strives to offer something unique from what is available here. “Otherwise, there are so many other labels to turn to,” he said.
Coccapani is carried in the U.S. by Eva in New York, Pearl in Santa Monica, Calif., and Gipore, a boutique that will open next month in Boston with labels including Dior and Roberto Cavalli.
Suits retail between $1,000 and $1,700 and pants are about $500. In addition to Italy, the line also is carried in about 100 multibrand stores in Greece, Russia, Japan and the Middle East. The company has a brand store on Milan’s tony Via Spiga, as well, which was recently restyled in line with the new look.
“We changed name, product, image and distribution, and, although it was risky, because we knew we would lose some of our old-guard clients, we are pleased with the response to the fall collection,” said Ferrari. “We reached our goal of a total of 100 retailers.”
Coccapani’s upcoming ad campaign will be shot by Steven Klein in a romance-meets-the-future theme, featuring the dark-haired, ethereal Italian model, Maria Carla, a longtime friend and muse of Tisci. This, too, is a strong departure from past campaigns, which, for seven years starting in 1993, featured Claudia Schiffer, who at the time helped bring attention to the company here.
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