By  on March 28, 2007

MILAN — The late Franco Moschino may have added Couture! to his label to poke fun at fashion in his unconventional, tongue-in-cheek way, but there is a new twist to this expression when it returns with the house's spring-summer 2008 collection — and nostalgia has nothing to do with it.

The reintroduction of the Moschino Couture! tag, which was dropped in the fall-winter 1998-1999 season, is a tribute to the essence of the brand and points to the exclusivity of the goods, said Thierry Andretta, the company's new chief executive officer.

"We want to underscore the sophisticated elegance of the brand," Andretta said in an interview at company headquarters here.

The soft-spoken Andretta, who was previously president of Replay US and held executive posts at high-end sportswear company Belfe, Emanuel Ungaro, Celine and Gucci Group, said the firm's goal is to evolve towards an even more "refined" product across the board.

The house also is revisiting the Moschino Jeans brand, produced by SINV, the Italian clothing manufacturer that controls 30 percent of Moschino SpA, and has launched a "red carpet" men's project.

As the brand garners customers among celebrities — from Kylie Minogue and Beyoncé Knowles to Patricia Duff, Jessica Alba and Dita Von Teese — Andretta said the company is working on "providing a male counterpart au par to this female standard." The men's division is licensed to Venice-based Gruppo Forall.

"We were not really focused on men's wear before," Andretta said.

Moschino also is investing in the accessories division, which is posting a "triple-digit" rise, "just below 100 percent growth," for both the Moschino and Cheap & Chic brands, Andretta said. The Muffin bag in different sizes and materials is Moschino's current bestseller, with a waiting list of months.

"After all, Rossella Jardini [creative director] can count on her early experience at Bottega Veneta, and you can really see her talent with accessories, too," Andretta said.

A longtime friend and collaborator of Franco Moschino, Jardini took over the creative reins after the designer died in 1994, growing the company without ever veering from the spirit of the founder. In 2006, accessories accounted for 10 percent of sales. Andretta underscored the importance of offering a wide choice of accessories, differentiating them depending on the region they target.

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