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Emilio Pucci Returns to Ski Roots

NEW YORK — The Emilio Pucci company has come full circle.<BR><BR>The late Italian designer got his start designing ski clothes, and now his namesake company has teamed up with French firm Skis Rossignol SA for a collection of colorful outerwear...

NEW YORK — The Emilio Pucci company has come full circle.

The late Italian designer got his start designing ski clothes, and now his namesake company has teamed up with French firm Skis Rossignol SA for a collection of colorful outerwear and ski apparel.

“We have a collaboration with designer Jean-Charles de Castlebajac which combines fashion and technical apparel, and we wanted to expand on that with another designer company,” said Mike Herrmann, soft goods product manager for Rossignol Ski Co. Inc., the company’s U.S. division. “We also think Pucci could take us into new areas of distribution in higher-end boutiques.”

Pucci, who died in 1992, was known for his athletic prowess and was a member of the Italian Olympic ski team in 1934. In fact, he was “discovered” as a designer while skiing and by chance met fashion photographer Toni Frissell, who asked to photograph his ski outfit. As legend goes, when she discovered he had personally designed the collection, she asked him to make some women’s skiwear, which was later shown in Harper’s Bazaar, and a career was born. Pucci is now a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Christian Lacroix is its creative director.

The new Rossignol Pucci looks will hit stores in late summer in time for the 2005-2006 ski season. For now, it is a women’s-only collection comprising technical outerwear, knitted sweaters and base layers such as turtlenecks, all of which are made using existing Pucci prints, according to Herrmann.

Prices for the collection are still being determined, but it will likely carry retail prices of about $400 to $500 for a soft shell jacket and up to $900 for some of the more technical outerwear. The Pucci collection will compete with high-end ski brands such as Bogner and Prada, Herrmann noted. He said the collection is expected to generate about 15 percent of U.S. sales. Rossignol does not break out U.S. sales, but last year its overall worldwide revenues were $635 million.

Rossignol also said it has extended its deal with de Castlebajac for five years.

These collaborations are part of a larger trend of sport companies teaming up with designers. Adidas now has deals with Yohji Yamamoto and Stella McCartney, and tennis brand Ellesse just started a collaboration with British fashion label Eley Kishimoto.