By and  on February 13, 2008

MILAN – When referring to the short-lived marriage between Lars Nilsson and the house of Ferré, IT Holding chief Tonino Perna believes that in the case of divorce, it’s always better when children aren’t involved.

The children in this case would have been the fall clothes that would have earmarked Nilsson’s debut at Ferré on Feb. 18. Needless to say, the buzz was mounting.

“It was an unpleasant decision to take, also because I respect Nilsson, he is a nice and professional person. It’s no one’s fault but the relationship didn’t work out and we thought it would be better to interrupt it before the show,” said Perna, IT Holding chairman, in a phone interview.

He stressed that the premature interruption was part of the contract and didn’t indent IT Holding’s costs.

When problems started arousing at some unspecified time, Perna asked the in-house design team to clean the slate and to deliver fall runway looks that were a contemporary rendition of the Ferré style codes.

“What we learned when Ferré passed away was that the designer not only left us with a great brand but he had also trained a very seasoned and capable design team,” said Perna. He added that retailers still have a lot faith in the brand and feedback thus far has been positive.

According to sources, Nilsson instead, not only steered away from Ferrè’s aesthetic but the Swede didn’t bond with the teams, especially with the men’s wear one that was hostile to him.

Nilsson, in fact, found the team in place when he arrived and needed time to adjust to a staff that had worked side by side with Ferré for years. Nilsson was unreachable to comment

Yet another source described Nilsson’s debut approach as “very Italian: chic and saleable.” During a men’s wear preview in January, Nilsson conceded that he wanted to recast a men’s wear perennial— Prince-of-Wales— with a women’s bent.

Going forward, Perna said that a creative director role is in the cards. “A creative director today must have managerial skills in guiding a team and must also understand the market direction and the consumer’s needs, especially when you have different lines and a wide product range. It’s not easy to find someone with all these requisites,” said Perna.

Aside from Ferré main line, the house also produces the Ferré Milano diffusion line and the younger GF Ferré label.

According to one source, Nilsson did not take advantage of the teamwork approach that would have taken some weight off his shoulders. Many in fact agreed that the Swedish designer had quite a lot on his plate but his diffidence probably led him to misjudge his workload.

“It’s always hard to replace a designer who has poured his heart and soul for decades to build a fashion brand. Whomever follows needs to be able to coordinate a good team,” said a source familiar with the house.

Most people confirmed that IT Holding company went to great lengths to supply Nilsson with all the support he needed and in working day and night to craft the clothes for Monday’s shows. 

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