By  on May 25, 1994

NEW YORK -- Genny's new look -- pared down, less structured and simpler than in the past -- struck a positive chord with Saks Fifth Avenue flagship shoppers who attended a three-day trunk show of the fall Genny collection last week.

Held through last Thursday, the event brought in sales of $125,000. Saks began the selling with an invitational luncheon at the store for Donatella Girombelli, head of Genny Holding SpA and design director of the Genny collection.

Bestsellers included six each of an oatmeal cashmere and wool swing jacket at $1,030, and matching wrap-front miniskirt, at $235; five each of a black and four each of a brown wool crepe minidress with jewel neck and bell sleeves at $650, and five each of the black and white pindot wool long, single-breasted jacket, $720, and matching miniskirt, $240. After two years or so of intense restructuring and reorganization of management at Genny Holding, Girombelli said she sees the Genny division as better focused -- and inspired by the casual style of American sportswear. The recent changes -- which include the addition of American Rebecca Moses as the designer of the Genny collection -- are starting to have an effect on Genny Holding's volume totals as well.

The combined wholesale volume of the Genny, Complice and Byblos collections was reported at about $245 million in 1992. It was up 5 percent last year and Girombelli expects to see a 15 percent jump this year. "We're terribly excited about having her here," Philip Miller, Saks' chairman and chief executive officer, said at Girombelli's welcoming luncheon. "Her new vision and command of Genny has made all the difference in the world."

Rose Marie Bravo, president of Saks, said sales of the Genny collection have turned around within the past two seasons.

"It's been sensational for us, and it's really picked up in the last eight months," she said. "It was a great resource and then we had a lull for several seasons. But I think she's refocused on the American market and addressed the needs of the working gal. It's simple, easy to understand and well priced."

In an interview at Saks, Girombelli discussed the changes at Genny, noting that she is inspired by American women's take on fashion, which she sees as more casually elegant than their European counterparts.

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