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Tara Subkoff Latest Designer Enlisted by House of Capucci

The fabled Italian house of Capucci, in relaunch mode, has added another hot name to its design team: Imitation of Christ designer Tara Subkoff.

MILAN — The fabled Italian house of Capucci, in relaunch mode, has added another hot name to its design team: Imitation of Christ designer Tara Subkoff.

The house is in the hands of Roberto Capucci himself, now in his 70s, and a group of trendy designers including Subkoff, Bernhard Wilhelm, appointed creative director, and his partner, Jutta Kraus, and Spain’s Sybilla. Complementing the designers is a team of entrepreneurs with experience ranging from such brands as Viktor & Rolf and Marc Jacobs to Max Mara and Gianfranco Ferré.

The first Capucci collection will bow for fall during the women’s shows here, with an unusual debut, showing about three times each day.

“It’s all about team effort, and no diva-esque personality is allowed here,” said Franco Bruccoleri, chief executive of Capucci Corp., who started his career in distribution and introduced Italy to fashion from such designers as John Galliano, Dries Van Noten and Helmut Lang, among others. “This is a unique opportunity: a legendary designer opening his archive of 30,000 designs to a group of young designers and allowing them to reelaborate on his ideas. This project draws from the past without retracing its steps.”

Bruccoleri said he admired the designer’s “uncontaminated style,” his creativity and freedom from commercial restraints and establishment rules. Capucci never showed his collection twice in the same city.

“I have been able to say ‘no’ often. And I was never sorry for it,” said Capucci. “I accepted [a role in] this project because the intention, right from the start, was to create ready-to-wear that would reflect the thought and the idea of uniqueness that went with my profession as couturier, and which would not reproduce complicated dresses in second-choice clothes.”

The elegant Capucci was known in the Sixties and Seventies for his constructed looks, his use of pleats and such innovative materials as stones combined with various fabrics and nylon. He is one of the designers most featured in museums around the world, ranging from the Guggenheim in New York to the Victoria and Albert in London. Capucci said he always wanted freedom and shunned commercial battles.

“In Bruccoleri, I have sensed a person with the same enthusiasm, the same recklessness, the same strength that I have always put in my work. This adventure will be good because the team is excellent,” said Capucci.

This story first appeared in the February 11, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

For his part, Bruccoleri teamed up with Franco Penè, president of Gibò Co. SpA (an industrial partner to Viktor & Rolf, Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith, Hussein Chalayan and Michael Kors); Vittorio Nasutti, a former Max Mara manager, and economist Aldo Palmeri. Penè and Nasutti own Corporate SpA, founded in 1995 in Parma, which will produce Capucci’s rtw line. Corporate already manufactures for Vivienne Westwood, Gianfranco Ferré, Fendi and Viktor & Rolf. Bruccoleri insisted the clothes will be “high-end, but practical and in good taste — there have been too many exaggerations in the luxury world.”

Capucci will also launch a new sportswear line produced by Carlo Rivetti’s sportswear firm, which makes the C.P. Co. and Stone Island brands.

Other projects include wedding gowns on line and a made-to-measure evening collection, which will be introduced in Los Angeles in July. Other makers are Ruffo, for leather; CIT SpA, which has been producing shirts for Giorgio Armani for the past 30 years, for shirts; Vicenza-based Emmevizeta, which also produces knits for Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren, for knitwear; Givuesse for furs, and a group of laboratories called H.C. for accessories.

“The Capucci brand today is the foundation of a cutting-edge business model,” said Palmeri. “The organizational idea is based on an integrated system of internal and external resources, where external resources are first-rate industrial partners for each sector and for a number of products that will be bound by licensing agreements.” He added that, although large, the structure must remain quick and flexible.

Capucci headquarters moved to Milan, but the designer himself remains based in Rome.

“I am happy about this project,” said Mario Boselli, president of Italy’s Chamber of Fashion. “I admire Capucci, a master of couture, with his sculpted clothes and creative sensitivity, and Bruccoleri and Penè are so right for the job.”