By  on July 30, 2007

LONDON — Stella McCartney is about to indulge one of her great passions. The designer will launch her first lingerie collection for spring 2008, under a license with intimate apparel company Bendon, WWD has learned.

"This is a natural progression for me. Lingerie is an obsession of mine. I have been inspired by it for many, many years. Ever since my degree collection at Saint Martins, I have always used it in my work," said McCartney on Friday.

An official announcement will be made today.

The collection will feature pieces made from silk, organic cotton and georgette silk chiffons, and will come in a signature Stella McCartney palette of soft shades of dusty pink, cream, blue and pearl gray. McCartney described it as "naturally sexy, confident and modern."

Marco Bizzarri, chief executive of Stella McCartney, described the deal with Bendon as "long-term," with the first collection landing in stores in January. He said the collection would offer a true point of difference.

"Right now, there are brands like La Perla — and then a big gap below them. We are aiming to deliver a high-end product with prices that are a little lower than La Perla," he said.

Prices will range from about 35 pounds, or $71 at current exchange, for panties and briefs to 220 pounds, or $447, for chemises.

Bizzarri added that one of the reasons Bendon was appealing as a partner was that it has a "human touch," and is about the same size as the Stella McCartney business. In fiscal 2005, Stella McCartney's U.K. sales and licensing income amounted to 7.3 million pounds, or $14.8 million. (The company, which is part of Gucci Group, does not report full annual sales.) Stella McCartney plans to announce 2006 U.K. sales and licensing income in October, before the designer's spring ready-to-wear show in Paris.

The new line will be sold at Stella McCartney stores and at Bendon units in Australia and New Zealand. It also will be sold at specialty stores including Selfridges, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew and La Rinascente.

George Brooks, Bendon's executive chairman, said the license mirrors his company's fashion focus and global expansion. "This is another significant deal in consolidating Bendon's international position," he said.Bendon's other major fashion license is with Elle Macpherson. The company has been producing the model's lingerie line, Elle Macpherson Intimates, for 17 years, and also manufactures the Macpherson Men line, Bendon Lingerie, Bendon Sport, Hey Sister, Fayreform, and Bendon Man.

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