By  on February 20, 2008

PARIS — The house of Vionnet, which parted ways with designer Marc Audibet last month after just one season, is trying to get back on track.

Arnaud de Lummen, chief executive officer of the brand, said the house is planning its first runway show in Paris on Feb. 29. It should be an unconventional affair since it will be staged at Le Crazy Horse adult cabaret club.

Meanwhile, de Lummen said an institutional investor, whom he declined to name for reasons of confidentiality, has taken a "small" stake in the company, which relaunched in 2006 with designer Sophia Kokosalaki. She left after just two seasons when she sold her own business to Staff International, the parent of Italy's Diesel.

De Lummen added that he was in "advanced" talks with other potential investors to take a more important stake in Vionnet in order to finance expansion. De Lummen said he wanted to open Vionnet shops in Paris and the U.S.

At present, Vionnet is carried by about 10 stores outside of the U.S., where it is sold exclusively at Barneys New York. De Lummen said the exclusive deal with Barneys would continue in the U.S., but that he wanted to garner new clients in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

De Lummen added that the brand would not hire an outside designer to replace Audibet.

For the moment, he said, the creative direction is being handled by a studio team, which is piloted by collection director Gaetane Maze.

"Vionnet doesn't need to be associated with a designer's name," said de Lummen. "It's an institution."

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