By  on September 26, 2005

MILAN — From a new look at Ken Scott to the first hints of Gucci's retail makeover to Blumarine's dainty tableware, there's more going on in this city than a jammed fashion calendar.

Welcome back, Ken Scott
Another old brand is getting some youth serum.

Silk mill Isa SpA has acquired the license for Ken Scott from the late designer's foundation and tapped designers Paolo Battaglia and Antonio Ponte to make it edgy again.

Their first effort will be seen in a presentation during Milan Fashion Week.

The designers, who each consult for top fashion firms, have mined the archives and turned out a barrage of cutting-edge prints in an array of colors, with a focus on fitted, slim, feminine silhouettes.

Distribution plans are still being hammered out for the line, which carries wholesale prices of 150 euros ($180 at current exchange) for a blouse; 390 euros ($470) for a coat and 135 euros ($162) for shoes.

An American who settled in Italy, Ken Scott started in fashion in 1962. His signature was floral prints — especially peonies, anemones and roses — that blossomed all over in wild colors. He died in 1991 at age 72.

Gucci's makeover
True to his word, Gucci chief Mark Lee has set the wheels in motion to update the brand's stores with a concept he is developing with architect Bill Sofield.

Certain areas in Milan's flagship were cordoned off throughout the summer for workers to change the layout. The result is a more spacious and lighter central aisle furnished with a white lacquer and steel showcase that houses an assortment of bags and a new display for the fast-growing eyewear category.

"We decided to make some small, yet specific, visual adjustments to improve the presentation of our growing accessory categories," said Lee.

For starters, space dedicated to handbags has been doubled, allowing for more visibility, while the men's shoe area was relocated from the second floor to the basement, along with an expansion of women's footwear.

Blumarine in motion
Instead of retiring, Gianpaolo Tarabini is working overtime. "I'm addicted to this world because fashion is so fun and prestigious," said Tarabini, general manager at Blumarine and husband of designer Anna Molinari.These days, he's focused on consolidating the limited-edition bags — about 10 labor-intensive styles — that will be carried in Blumarine's 57 freestanding stores, plus selected worldwide doors.

At the end of October, Tarabini and Molinari will fly to Los Angeles for a huge party and fashion show at Neiman Marcus and a charity event at Jo Champa's house, where expected guests include Anastasia, Cindy Crawford, Alicia Keys and Penélope Cruz.

On the retail front, Blumarine recently opened a store in Bangkok and will open one in Florence in January, but Tarabini's dream remains a flagship on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Tarabini is also perfecting his hand designing denim and swimwear. His low-rise, Swarovski-clustered jeans, sewn with a silver thread, were a hit among the bling set — regardless of the 240 euros ($289) wholesale tag. And his new swimwear line features a multicolored bikini set, complete with G-string. He also signed a licensing agreement for bone china tableware with Bagnasacco, the same company that does Valentino's. The dainty porcelains will be available at Saks in October.

D&G's classroom
Milan has never been so frenzied about promoting new designers as it is this season.

To that end, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have invited 150 students from prestigious fashion schools in Milan, including Domus Academy, Istituto Europeo di Design and Università Bocconi, to their irreverent D&G show.

The aim? Allowing the budding designers to feel the thrill of a live fashion show and soak in the excitement to help inspire their upcoming careers.

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