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NEW YORK — For the past five years, London ready-to-wear designer Tomasz Starzewski has been quietly rebuilding his business, and he is now ready to take a major leap: reentering the U.S. market.
Starzewski, who started in business 18 years ago, is known in his hometown for dressing the Ladies-Who-Lunch set, and his gowns and suits have adorned the likes of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah Ferguson, and Stateside the late Nan Kempner and Audrey Gruss.
At the beginning of his career, he sold his eveningwear to stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s and even had a shop on London’s tony Sloane Street. But his business, at the time owned by the then Asprey Group, started struggling in the late Nineties when Prince Jefri of Brunei sold Asprey to Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou, and the luxury firm dissolved Starzewski’s division. To top that, Starzewski had a car crash in Mustique, and underwent the reconstruction of half his face, his legs and collar bone. “It’s changed me completely professionally,” he said. “I now enjoy life so much more. I work in the way I wish to work.”
Neiman Marcus approached him for his rtw last year and he started distributing pieces to select stores this spring. Bergdorf Goodman is expected to begin carrying pieces in August on the fourth floor alongside designers such as Isaac Mizrahi, Maggie Norris and John Anthony.
Wholesale prices range from about $572 to $823 for tailored evening jackets and $259 to $928 for dresses and bottoms. Prices have been converted from the euro at the current exchange rate and exclude shipping and duty. Starzewski’s wholesale sales projections are approximately $2 million for the fiscal year. He expects the U.S. business to account for one-third of sales.