By  on January 28, 2008

Angel Sanchez has big plans this year, ushered in by his return to Bryant Park for New York Fashion Week.

On Feb. 3, the ready-to-wear designer will do his first show in the tents since 2000, and "Grey's Anatomy" stars Sara Ramirez and Chandra Wilson are expected to be in his front row.

"It's my comeback," said the designer. "I did shows twice in Bryant Park in 1999 and 2000 when I was still living in Venezuela, but the first two times I showed, I was honestly not ready. I feel more confident than when I was coming up from Venezuela with my suitcase. The first two times was more an ego thing. Now, this is professional."

Showing in Bryant Park is only the beginning of Sanchez's expansion plans this year. The $5 million company expects to grow its business 30 percent this year, propelled by the launch of a diffusion line for spring 2009.

Called Angel by Angel Sanchez and inspired by the high-end line, the 60-piece bridge collection of cocktail dresses and separates will wholesale for $180 to $550, a fraction of his signature evening line, which wholesales for $1,000 to $4,200 and sells at 55 doors (and 22 for bridal), such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. Distribution for the new line is still to be determined, but the firm projects it can be a $2 million business its first year.

Sanchez already has a diffusion contemporary collection in his native Latin America, called Concepto by Angel Sanchez. Launching a year and a half ago and opening its first flagship in November in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, the 100-piece line wholesales from $15 to $60. Sanchez hopes the publicity from his Bryant Park show will help support his secondary businesses, which he said are thriving.

Sanchez, who grew up in his mother's atelier in Venezuela, worked as an architect for two years before turning to design in 1987, and architecture still influences all of his collections today. After doing presentations for buyers out of his showroom since he moved to New York in 2002, last season, Sanchez hosted a runway show, but not at the tents. "Last season was a good step, but showing inside the tents is easier for everybody," he said. "I was disappointed in how hard it was to get people to come to another location when you are not a big, big name."Inspired by the architecture from a recent trip to Japan, Angel Sanchez's fall 2008 collection is almost double the number of looks presented in former seasons, and many of the additions will be daytime styles.

"People think of my collection just for evening, but the first eight to 10 looks that come out will be more daytime," Sanchez said. "My designs are sophisticated, so it will not be casual daytime, though. There will be nice suits for lunch — not for going to the office."

This summer, the designer is moving his headquarters to a 7,200-square-foot space on the seventh floor of 148 West 37th Street. Sanchez is designing the architecture himself, and his partner, Christopher Coleman, is doing the interior design. There is also a second Concepto store opening planned for May 2008 in Caracas.

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