By  on January 30, 2006

NEW YORK — Men's wear designer Henry Jacobson is making a play on the women's market.

Jacobson, who rings up about $60 million in sales with his signature line of men's sportswear and his Mulberry line of neckwear, is launching his first collection of women's wear for fall selling. The new brand, American Gambler by Henry Jacobson, will be showcased for the first time at his debut runway show in the Bryant Park tents during fashion week on Feb. 3.

The men's wear, which sells at retailers such as Macy's and Lord & Taylor, is more mainstream than American Gambler. The collection features high-end men's and women's pieces such as wool, cashmere and angora sweaters, goat suede skirts and silk velvet evening gowns with beaded details. Targeting high-end specialty retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Jacobson said he is fulfilling a lifelong dream by designing this line.

"My mother was the Euro­pean buyer for B. Altman," Jacob­son said. "She pretty much lived at the Plaza Hotel here. When I was as young as seven years old, I would go shopping with her and help her pick out clothes. I've always been very artistic and I knew I wanted to do this back then."

Jacobson said his mother also explained the importance of running a good business. She made sure to tell him that it was important to have the financial structure in place before launching a full collection for men and women. After a few solid years with the Mulberry business, Jacobson started the men's sportswear in 2001.

The bicoastal designer works from an office in San Francisco and at 156 East 36th Street here, which is in a four-floor former carriage house that he purchased in February 2001. The building, which was built in 1850, houses Jacobson's showrooms on the ground floor. Two floors are reserved for sewers and the top floor is Jacobson's residence.

At the runway show, Jacobson said he is dedicating 10 out of 33 looks to the women's line and he plans to send the women down the catwalk with the men.

"I want to show that these women are strong, but they go hand-in-hand with their partners," he said. "The women's looks are made to layer, like with the sweaters and corsets. I like the volume mixed with softness."Jacobson said that while the luxe line will wholesale from $350 to $5,000, and he is only targeting a select number of stores, the future will bring a more mainstream line of women's wear.

"This is just my entrance into women's," he said. "I would love to do a line that every women can afford."

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