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Oscar de la Renta to Launch Kids’ Line

For the first time in his 45-year career, the designer is developing an in-house children’s wear collection.

For the first time in his 45-year career, Oscar de la Renta is developing an in-house children’s wear collection.

This story first appeared in the December 8, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The designer has brought on board Catherine Monteiro de Barros as vice president of design for children’s wear. She was founder and designer of the Lisbon-based luxury children’s brand Papo d’Anjo, which she closed last week after 17 years in business.

Aside from a licensing deal for children’s wear that de la Renta had more than 20 years ago, he has only dabbled in the category in recent years, designing styles here and there, primarily to benefit charities.

Alex Bolen, chief operating officer, said, “We have not had an active strategy. From time to time, we have sold enduring classic styles like smock dresses for little girls, and they all sold — every piece.”

There will be a collection for girls between the ages of 18 months and 14 years old, as well as one for boys in the same age range. There will be a capsule collection for spring-summer available at Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods and Oscar de la Renta boutiques. The first full line will be unveiled for fall-winter through the designer’s Web site, as well as his freestanding stores and select luxury retailers.

Monteiro de Barros said she is excited to be working for de la Renta. She also is counting on at-home trunk shows, a tactic she first embraced in the early Nineties, to help cultivate de la Renta’s children’s wear basis. After 17 years in business, she had been running herself pretty ragged dividing her time between Papo d’Anjo’s offices in Lisbon and the U.K., she said.

Monteiro de Barros said her designs for youngsters tend to appeal to “mothers who are interested in quality and style but who also want their children to look like children.” Bolen said, “The thing that has been important here to appreciate is that they are very much on the same page designwise.”