By and  on January 18, 2002

NEW YORK -- Gabriella appears to have landed another big one.

Gabriella Forte, the former president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein Inc. and before that, executive vice president of Giorgio Armani, will reportedly become president of Dolce & Gabbana, the Italian design firm. Forte couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. However sources said she is expected to begin in New York on Monday. Approached at the Nobu restaurant in Milan Thursday night, Domenico Dolce zipped his lips and whispered: "We can't comment."

Dolce & Gabbana, which produces women's and men's designer collections, generated $210 million in consolidated sales in 2000, with women's apparel accounting for 60 percent. In earlier interviews, Dolce has said that he sees "incredible growth potential for the brand," which in 2000 opened its third U.S. freestanding store in Beverly Hills. The two other stores are on Madison Avenue here and in Bal Harbour, Fla.

The appointment of Forte could help bring a higher profile to D&G, whose wild clothes are favored by rockers from Madonna to Gwen Stefani. Last year, the Milanese duo were honored by the Children's Action Network, and hosted a fall runway extravaganza at a luncheon at the Pacific Palisades home of Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw. However, Dolce had to host solo because Gabbana came down with food poisoning. It was the first time that Dolce had spent any significant time in Los Angeles, and was the company's first major L.A. fashion show.

During her five-year tenure at Calvin Klein, the Italian-born Forte aggressively expanded Klein's business into Italy and Europe via a series of joint ventures and partnerships for everything from manufacturing to commercial real estate development. Her strategy was to join forces with Italian partners to produce and sell in Italy and Europe. In addition, she extended Klein's retail network and built a solid corporate infrastructure. She installed global systems in products, merchandising and advertising and developed a combination of franchising, licensing and company-owned operations, depending on the category and territory.

Forte resigned her Klein post in June, 1999, and became a strategic adviser to Calvin Klein and his partner Barry Schwartz on long-term planning. She relinquished day-to-day operations to devote more time to her family and personal life.

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