By and  on December 27, 2005

NEW YORK — Seventh Avenue's designers and executives are hopeful that the new year brings more product launches, freestanding stores and business opportunities in far-flung markets such as China and Russia. Many seem to agree on one personal goal: to find more time for their friends and family amid the fashion frenzy. Here, some reflections on the year that's ending and wishes for the year to come.

Behnaz Sarafpour
"Two thousand and five was great in terms of expanding the line to new markets. What's become interesting for us is the expansion outside of the U.S. We started working with more stores in Europe and Russia this year, and 2006 will be more about expanding in Asia.

"I am also hoping to have an accessories collection next year. I am working on a shoe collection. I attempted handbags for spring, but we had a production problem and we didn't end up going into production — that was unfortunate. We put that on the back burner but are going ahead with the shoes.

"Launching resort was the biggest highlight of the year. Since we started four-and-a-half years ago, we have had the capacity to only do two collections. The addition of this new delivery has been a great boost to our business financially."

Jeffry Aronsson, chief executive officer, Donna Karan International
"DKI is on track to achieve profits against the background of its first reoccurring operating gains since the LVMH takeover in 2001. The stage is now set for vastly improved operating results driven in part by gains in our own retail [stores] and from an aggressive yet feasible drive into Asian markets with a coalition of blue-ribbon partners. We are achieving the conversion of a culture rooted in wholesale and ready-to-wear to a culture focused and aligned behind retail and accessories in addition to rtw.

"I hope to balance friends, family and career next year. A personal goal is to be more available, in a hands-on way, to students or those just starting out who could use an outsider's insight to their challenges — a little guidance or a boost."

Derek Lam
"Two thousand and five has been an incredible year. A personal highlight was when I received the CFDA Perry Ellis award. The worst thing is that we have outgrown our space again and have to move ... into a 5,000-square-foot space at 601 West 26th Street in February."The economy has been doing well at the luxury end. Expanding out of the U.S. as an American name and brand has been very gratifying. Half of our sales are now outside of the U.S., which has always been a goal. We have a few projects in the works and hope to target Asia next year.

"The Tod's collaboration [for apparel] has helped my exposure and exposed me to the abilities that Tod's has. We are now working on developing our accessories. We are hoping to start with handbags, launching them if not for fall, then definitely for resort. Our goal is also to continue growing our business ... With the whirlwind of last year, I am hoping to get to a moment where I can focus on being as creative a designer and have as interesting a brand as possible."

Dana Buchman
"My goal is simple and really hard at the same time — to live in the moment. Though it's a personal goal, it will also affect me professionally. As a designer, I have to meet deadlines and my job is to think about the future, but as a human being, I want to balance that with experiencing every moment totally. I also hope to expand the reach of the women I design for, reaching more customers, but that's the definition of my lifetime goal.

"Two thousand and five was great. I am going into the 19th year with my label, and I think I have been happier every year. I guess the biggest event for me was that I finished writing my first book about my daughter's learning disabilities. It was very emotionally wrenching and enlivening at the same time. I relived it and felt a great sense of accomplishment finishing it.

"Sometimes I still leave at the end of the day stressed, and that's disappointing. I should know better than that by now. I remember a pink chiffon blouse that came in a slightly off-pink. It wasn't the pink I wanted, and I get really upset about it still."

Michael Groveman, CEO, Bill Blass Ltd.
"Professionally, I would like to continue growing our business and to keep adding doors, and countries to do business with. We have been successful in growing our business internationally. We expanded in a number of doors in Russia and the Middle East this year. The high point was that, as a company, we have been getting back the respectability from our peers in the marketplace and our company is hitting strides to grow in the future."On a personal note, I want to continue to have good luck and health."

Graziano de Boni, president and CEO, Valentino Inc.
"We are forecasting a very positive 2006. Two thousand and five was a phenomenal year, the biggest for Valentino in the U.S. In May, we launched V, our first new fragrance in many years, and in its first six months, it has sold twice as much as we had projected. After having worked three years to fix the business, 2005 also saw the opening of our first new freestanding store in America in South Coast Plaza, and it was also the first year we started to have true success with our shoes and handbags. We want to continue expanding our main line business and our accessories. We are going to carefully expand our retail network, and we will open one to two stores next year. We will be launching a second fragrance and tableware."

Cynthia Rowley
"Professionally, we are launching a new licensed collection of bridge-priced sportswear, called Souvenir, with Tarrant Apparel next year. It will be in stores in June. We are also working on children's wear and home. The kids' line launched in Japan about eight months ago and is doing great. We are now working on launching it here and opening more women's stores, and maybe even some children's stores. I'd like the first children's store to be in New York.

"I had the two most major things happen to me this year. I had a baby and got married. That was a total highlight. My personal goals all revolve around my home and my family. My West Village house has been under renovation for almost two years and is in utter chaos. A goal is to get settled in my new house, and to be able to entertain my friends in a house that's not covered in drywall plaster."

Howard Rosenberger, president, Ellen Tracy
"For the company, the best thing to happen in 2005 was bringing George Sharp to Ellen Tracy as vice president of design. [For 2006], we are looking forward to expanding the lifestyle aspect of the brand, which we feel has tremendous growth potential…the continued growth and expansion of the world of Ellen Tracy, which includes handbags, jewelry, and shoes among others, as well as the introduction of a new Ellen Tracy fragrance in 2006. I will do my part to continue the tradition of quality and style established by the founders of Ellen Tracy; it's a great heritage and something I embrace."Peter Som
"In the new year, I hope to eat less chocolate. I am setting realistic goals for myself, though this one may not be that easy to accomplish. Professionally, I would like to have sales shoot through the roof. Personally, weekly massages and facials would be great. I think everyone would benefit from me being calm and relaxed.

"In 2005, I was very sad to see Peter Arnold leave the CFDA, though I am thrilled that Steven Kolb is stepping in. Also, losing Kal Ruttenstein was very sad. He was very supportive of me and most emerging designers."

David Meister
"The year was good. We moved into our new showroom, opened our first in-store shop at Bloomingdale's and the business has been good and continues to grow. Licensing would be the next step. I am most interested in shoes, handbags and possibly swimsuits. On the personal front, it's more political. I would hope for the end of the Iraqi occupation and a way of finding a better solution to rebuild Iraq. Also, there needs to be more advancement and attention paid to the human rights movement and rights for minorities. Personally, I hope for ways to budget my schedule to have more time for personal matters.

"A disappointment for me this year was learning the hard way how to deal with some of our import situations in the Far East. I am now much more aware and tuned in to the specifics."

Bud Konheim, ceo, Nicole Miller
"My goal is to keep my head down and follow through, especially in sand traps. That will correct my game.

"This year is when Nicole Miller signature really came on board. We had completely misjudged how large this business can be. Now we want to get all the licensees to understand and expand that [portion of the business].

"We'll do north of $4 million with signature this year and next year we should be certain to have healthy increases. We could do $7 million or $8 million by picking up new accounts."

Lela Rose
"We have finally put our move in motion. We will be in our new space this January. We will be sharing space with two close friends, interior designer Celerie Kemble and event planner Bronson VanWyck."Of this year's disappointments, Rose said, "That we still have troops at war. And not being able to find the time to open a homemade ice-cream store in TriBeCa."

Denise Bongiorno, managing director, Cinzia Rocca
"An ongoing goal for Cinzia Rocca is to increase our specialty store business. We were happy this year to expand our specialty store distribution by adding Bergdorf Goodman. At this point, we have almost totally saturated New York, Chicago and Boston; now is the time for us to focus our attention on emerging into new markets. We also plan to increase our customer base and start selling goods over the Internet. We hope to launch this program in fall 2006. Lastly, we are really excited to be expanding our New York offices. We will have a larger showroom and will be adding a separate area specifically for press. Construction has started as of December 2005.

"In 2005, with the good came some disappointments and things we could have approached differently. The rise in the euro has been challenging for all European designers, as it has made fabric and materials more expensive. Rodel SpA had to absorb these increases internally to keep the cost of our product competitive with American designers. 

"In addition, weather was the number-one disappointment faced by Cinzia Rocca in 2005. We begin shipping our fall-winter collection in July, and this was the second year in a row that temperatures did not get cold until late December. If this change in global temperature continues to be so late, we may need to adjust our shipping schedules."

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