MILAN — The house of Versace could prove to be the apple of Luxottica Group SpA’s eye.
Luxottica will pick up the rights to manufacture and distribute Versace and Versus eyewear by buying a majority stake in IC Optics, the joint venture that produces the two lines, sources close to the negotiations told WWD on Tuesday.
Reports indicated that, as early as this week, Luxottica will acquire a controlling interest in IC Optics. Versace and the Cremona family, owners of a toy manufacturing company in the northern town of Varese, established the 50-50 joint venture in 1999 to produce Versace and Versus eyewear. IC Optics, which also makes frames for Gai Mattiolo through a licensing agreement, posted sales of $42.2 million in 2001. A deal could be announced as early as this week.
Both Versace and Luxottica declined to comment.
"It’s a deal favorable to all involved," said one source familiar with the operation. "Luxottica increases the stable of brands it controls. Versace acquires the industrial know-how of the industry leader."
Late last year, Giorgio Armani terminated its licensing past with Luxottica, ending a 14-year partnership between the designer and the eyewear giant and forcing Luxottica to issue a profit warning for 2003. Armani’s signature and Emporio lines accounted for about 7.2 percent of Luxottica’s revenue, or about $232.7 million, based on Luxottica’s 2001 sales of $3.23 billion. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.
The Luxottica-Armani breakup spurred speculation that Italy’s largest eyewear maker was about to strike a licensing deal with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s Louis Vuitton unit or snap up smaller competitor De Rigo to compensate. Luxottica then denied it was talking to LVMH or De Rigo.
While his plans for eyewear aren’t set, some in the market speculate Armani will sign a licensing pact with one of Luxottica’s competitors such as Safilo, De Rigo or Marcolin. Armani declined to comment on the state of its eyewear business.
Versace has been looking to expand its presence in accessories, which made up about 10 percent of its 2001 sales of $515.5 million. Last year, Versace opened its first freestanding accessories store in Berlin. The store is considered a prototype and others could be on the way.Working with a larger player could be just what Versace needs to grow its eyewear business, said Paola Durante, a Milan-based analyst at Merrill Lynch. Luxottica boasts an extensive retail network, including the Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters chains, as well as extensive design and production facilities.
"I think it is a brand that has room to develop itself in eyewear," Durante said. "Versace hasn’t really done that much in glasses."
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast