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Alessandro Dell’Acqua Focuses on Knits for Malo

Designer's spring fashion collection goes back to house's roots.

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MILAN — Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s debut collection for Malo spotlights knitwear, a choice that does justice to the brand’s heritage and his background in the category.

The Neapolitan-born designer, who replaced the 6267 duo Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi when they headed to Gianfranco Ferré in April, has worked extensively with knitwear since his first namesake collection in 1996.

“I wanted to exploit the brand’s history and bring the knitwear back to its simple, more classical roots without too much fuss,” said Dell’Acqua of his first effort for the IT Holding-owned brand. Malo will show on Wednesday at the New York Public Library.

About three-quarters of the spring collection consists of knitwear in different variations, from tissue-thin weights that could be mistaken for silk chiffon to textured styles woven on 18th-century looms.

A sense of lightness is also conveyed through nylon stitching. Shapewise, the looms churned out sweaters, tops, skirts, dresses and even evening gowns in muted tones such as wisteria, shell pink and sand.

Dell’Acqua’s initial collection for the house includes easy basics in body-skimming shapes, beribboned necklines, nips, tucks and plunging V-necks. Some styles are delicately embroidered by hand in the U.K., while others feature emerald green brick-shaped sequins.

Less heavy-handed with embellishments than his predecessors, Dell’Acqua’s less-is-more approach favors cashmere, silk, cotton and linen for knitwear, but offers a more structured alternative with wovens that bond silk and cotton voile or silk faille with linen.

“We strongly believe and have received feedback from leading retailers that now is a strong moment for casual chic or stylish yet easy clothes that a woman can wear throughout the day,” said Vittorio Notarpietro, Malo’s chief executive officer.

Given the economic challenges, Notarpietro expects 2008 sales to be in line with last year’s 55 million euros, or $79 million at current exchange.

After earlier signing licenses for children’s wear and a home collection, he added that negotiations for eyewear are under way as well as forming partnerships to open Malo units in China, Dubai and Al Qatar.

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