Alex Kramer's front-row perch at Carlos Miele's New York Fashion Week show on Thursday was not merely a social call — she is the new creative director of his secondary label, Miele.
In the last year, Miele has used Kramer as a sounding board for the diffusion collection, which is being rolled out nationwide after a two-season exclusive at Saks Fifth Avenue.
"I always liked the way Alex dressed,'' Miele said. "She helped me with a lot of ideas, and pretty much is the targeted customer for my secondary line. I wanted to have an influential line. And for me, to do that it's important to understand what the uptown American girls want. Today, New York girls are very much opinion-makers."
After months of bouncing ideas off Kramer, he told her, "'You know, you should really be doing this,'" Kramer said. After that, "I just ran with it."
Miele is not for the nocturnal, according to its namesake. "Mainly, this line is for the daytime — the other line is for the night," he said.
The designer wasn't oversimplifying things. His signature collection is all about special occasion pieces and Miele is more geared for everyday attire. Miele's wholesale prices range from $150 to $400 compared with $500 to $1,100 for the signature line. Printed chiffon tops, daytime dresses, jeans, shorts with a metallic sheen and knits are among the styles in the 200-piece spring-resort collection.
A former photo editor and stylist, Kramer always has had plenty of clothes made — "from her wedding dress down" — and is continually altering her purchases. "It was an amazing experience to mix Carlos' sexy Latin way with a New York-girl style," she said.
Busy raising two children for the past six years, Kramer is ready to get back to work and is particularly pleased by her peers' reaction to the collection. "All my friends are clamoring for it right now, " she said.
In the next 12 months, the Miele account base is expected to increase to 250 stores from about 25, the designer said. In December, the third Miele freestanding store will open in Miami, a city whose international feel appeals to him."Miami is one of the most important cities," the Brazilian-born Miele said. "It attracts people from South America, Central America, Europe and America."
The first Miele boutique launched in Rio de Janeiro at the end of last year, and the second one made its debut in São Paulo last month. Miele also will be sold on the second floor of the Carlos Miele freestanding store that is to open in Paris next month on the chic Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, near the John Galliano and Zegna stores. With Miele's launch and the opening of 20 freestanding Miele stores next year, the designer expects sales to more than triple to $25 million. In addition, Michael Roberts has shot the first international advertising campaign for Carlos Miele that will bow in March magazines.
Internationally, the contemporary collection is being sold by showrooms in Milan, Belgium and Paris. Introducing a secondary label is practically mandatory in this competitive climate, Miele said. "We have to make the company grow. Otherwise, we can't compete with other businesses."
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