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Vesperini Vies for Growth

French lingerie designer Vannina Vesperini plans to roll out a string of boutiques in Europe this year and double sales in 2003 to $6 million.

Vannina Vesperini shows off her lingerie designs at the Salon International de la Lingerie in Paris.

PARIS — Vannina Vesperini, a young, French lingerie designer, has been a relative secret to all but the most sensitive style hounds. But now, she’s ready to bark out a new message.

With a new private investor on board, Vesperini harbors plans to roll out a string of boutiques in Europe this year with a plan to double sales in 2003 to $6 million. She has introduced a new bra collection and a debut swimwear line, which, along with her lingerie, will be exhibited at the Sept. 6-8 Lyon, Mode City trade fair in Lyon, France.

“You could say that things are moving fast,” said the 32-year-old Vesperini, who founded her brand in 1996 after graduating from the Esmod fashion academy in Paris and working for a brief stint at Sabbia Rosa.

Three years ago, she opened a tiny shop on the Left Bank here, quickly attracting a cult-like following for her sexy, ultrafeminine wares.

Vesperini has always stuck to a concept — what she calls “over-under” lingerie — that is meant to be seen. Her calling card is her bustiers. By adding bras this year, she has completed her lingerie line, which also boasts intricate camisoles, slips and panties.

“I always wanted to do bras, but it’s an expensive process,” she said. “The production is very technical. Now I have the money to do it right.”

Her partner, Patrick Moysan, an early financier of designer sportswear brand and retail chain Plein Sud, also has become president of the company.

“The potential for the Vannina Vesperini brand is tremendous,” said Moysan. “At present, it has a niche as a young designer brand, but I think it can become an international player.”

The company opened its second boutique in Saint Tropez in April. The 1,500-square-foot space mixes stark minimalism, such as pared-down steel racks, with more opulent touches like Venetian mirrors. The concept will be used in Vesperini’s additional boutiques, which include a franchise operation slated for Ajaccio, Corsica, and a wholly owned unit in Marbella, Spain.

Both boutiques are scheduled to open within the next few months. Another unit in the French ski resort of Megeve is planned for December and Vesperini said she is scouting for a larger retail space in Paris.

“Our idea is to open more boutiques around Europe,” said Moysan. “We are open to franchising, but we want to open as many wholly owned units as possible.”

Vesperini’s new swimwear line features one-piece maillots and bikinis and will be launched exclusively this summer at its stores in Corsica and Saint Tropez.