MILAN — Diesel chief Renzo Rosso has reached out to yet another young designer, adding the Sophia Kokosalaki brand to his group, Only the Brave Srl.
The acquisition of the London brand was made through Staff International, the manufacturing arm of Only the Brave, which also controls Diesel, Maison Martin Margiela and Dean and Dan Caten's Dsquared.
The first Kokosalaki collection produced by Staff will bow for fall in Paris.
The Greek-born Kokosalaki, a graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, launched her namesake line in 1999 and is known for her romantic collections inspired by her Hellenic background, her intricate pleating techniques and sophisticated draped dresses. Last year, she was named creative director of the couture maison Madeleine Vionnet, which is being relaunched under new owners.
"Her take on fashion is new, fresh and modern, and the way she designs a dress is just incredible," said Rosso in an interview. "I have never seen so much creativity in each single outfit. I am in love with her designs."
The entrepreneur said he bought a majority stake in the brand, but declined to provide a specific percentage or reveal what he paid. But he did say Kokosalaki's business has annual sales of about 500,000 euros, or $650,000 at current exchange. "It was not a big financial investment, but it will be further down the road," said Rosso, citing retailing as one way to expand the visibility of the brand.
Rosso said he wanted Kokosalaki to become a "modern player in the world of contemporary fashion and a new luxury model."
While praising Staff International's "unique support system" and its "great hands-on organization," Kokosalaki said she was attracted by the structure of the company, which she defined as "not too corporate," and by Rosso's respectful relationship with designers.
"I like to deal with people, not suits," said Kokosalaki, who in the past has done a capsule collection for the Italian leather goods firm Ruffo Research.
"I've followed Renzo's work for years, and I admire how he creates a very positive environment — for example, how he handles Margiela for what he is, encouraging him and not changing him," she said, referring to the notoriously press-shy designer. "I'm more than confident that, with Staff's support and expertise, I will get the perfect balance between growth and independent creativity."The designer added that she counted on the group's "huge network" to expand the brand, attract new customers and provide prompt deliveries, but said there were no plans "to flood the market" with her products. "We are going to take our time and work hard to establish the brand," she said.
The designer said she would continue to work for the Vionnet label. "This is not an issue with Renzo," she said.
Rosso said he wanted Kokosalaki to be entirely involved with her collection. "I want a real partner who feels like a partner, responsible for the brand," said Rosso, adding Staff will provide know-how, investments in technology and retail to grow the label, which does not have any of its own freestanding stores. Rosso said he also planned to develop Kokosalaki's eveningwear division.
"I believe that part of my mission is the search for young, promising talents outside of the ordinary. I have never made any acquisition only to increase the profit of the group, but exclusively because I am passionate about the art and sensibility of certain designers," said Rosso.
Kokosalaki's collection previously was produced by Pier SpA, which Staff International acquired in October, but Rosso said this was "a coincidence." "I had been keeping an eye on Sophia for the past two years."
Pier SpA will continue to work with such brands as Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Azzedine Alaïa, Dior Homme and Plein Sud. Staff International produces for Margiela, Dsquared, Vivienne Westwood and Diesel Denim Gallery.
Last year, Staff International reported sales of more than 110 million euros, or $143 million.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye