By  on August 10, 2005

NEW YORK — W Hotels are getting fresh injections of fashion this fall.

W Hotels Worldwide tapped Alvin Valley for a slew of initiatives. Exclusive merchandise by the designer will be sold in the hotels' boutiques, and Valley will create service staff uniforms for Icon, the restaurant in W's Murray Hill location here.

Fashion is an important ingredient at W hotels, and working with fashion designers is part of the chain's ongoing strategy. W Hotels is a sponsor of 7th on Sixth and plans to create a VIP lounge at Olympus Fashion Week next month, in addition to sponsoring the shows of Valley and Yeohlee. The relationship with designers often extends beyond the cash injection for a show, however. The partnership with Valley, for instance, has multiple facets that will roll out in months to come.

"We won't just sponsor something without having a genuine relationship," said Ross Klein, president of W Hotels Worldwide. "We are partnering on Alvin's show, will host his trunk shows in our hotels and have special events."

Next month, Valley will stage his spring 2006 fashion show in the ballroom of the W hotel on Union Square, followed by a private dinner. Over the next few months, the Cuban-American designer will travel to W hotels to host special lunches featuring fashion presentations and trunk shows. Valley plans to team up with key socialites in each city and donate a portion of the sales' proceeds to local charities.

The designer kicked off the initiative with a trunk show at the W hotel in San Francisco last month. The event benefited the San Francisco Bay Humane Friends, and Valley sold $60,000 worth of merchandise (excluding special orders). Valley plans to hold a similar event at the W in Los Angeles on Oct. 20, and one in Mexico City shortly thereafter.

Valley is also designing exclusive pieces of women's clothing for the hotel's boutiques, its Web site and W's Shop catalogue. Valley merchandise, including a cashmere wrap and tank tops with beaded touches, will be available Oct. 1.

"I was attracted to W because it is one of the hotel chains that stands for a certain lifestyle," Valley said. "They understand what fashion is about, and what we designers are doing. They are tuned into what people like us are into, whether it's the right music, the right ambience or right service."Valley is developing the concept for the staff uniforms at Icon, which is scheduled to close down in October for a makeover and reopen in late November with the new uniforms. "It's very interesting to design uniforms," said Valley, who just created the outfits for Fizz, a new private club in Manhattan. "It's a different world for me. You get to work with architects and people who have their own vision. It's part of costuming."

Klein added, "One of things I love about Alvin is that he has an aesthetic that feels like customized tailoring, which is how we like to think of our brand. It's custom tailored with a design aesthetic."

W Hotels recently tapped Diane von Furstenberg to design emergency beauty and fashion kits, and Klein said the chain is likely to expand its relationship with Yeohlee in months to come. Klein added that W is very likely to ink more such relationships in the future. "It's definitely a cornerstone of who we are as a brand," Klein said. "It enhances our design competency as well as delighting our guests."

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