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Q&A: New Owner Discusses Krizia Plans

In her first interview since WWD’s report of Krizia’s acquisition last month, owner Zhu Chongyun discussed her views.

MILAN — The new owner of Krizia will unveil fall designs for her brands Marisfrolg and ZhuChongYun on Saturday in Beijing. Ahead of those two runway shows, and in her first interview since WWD’s report of Krizia’s acquisition by Chinese fashion retailer Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co. Ltd. last month, owner Zhu Chongyun discussed her views on the storied Italian brand. Zhu succeeds Krizia founder and creative director Mariuccia Mandelli, who is passing the baton after six decades in business. Zhu’s first collection for Krizia will bow in February in Milan. As reported, Marisfrolg is based in Shenzhen but Krizia will continue to be based in Milan. Although financial details of the transaction, which is expected to be finalized in the spring, were not disclosed, sources peg the deal at around 35 million euros, or $48.6 million at current exchange.

Zhu is expected to revamp the brand and, over the next five years, to open Krizia flagships in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu, and gradually reopen units in the most important cities in Europe, Japan and the U.S.

As for her Chinese lines, Marisfrolg Fashion was founded in 1993 and last year reported sales of 2.56 billion yuan, or $418 million. The group controls more than 400 directly operated stores that carry the high-end, contemporary Marisfrolg brand in top-end shopping malls and department stores in China, South Korea, Singapore and Macau. The Krizia line will not be distributed in those stores.

Here, Zhu discusses her plans for Krizia:

WWD: What drew you to Krizia and what does the brand stand for? What is the label’s strength?
Zhu Chongyun:
To me, Krizia is classy, elegant and tasteful. I appreciate the brand not only because of the glory it has achieved in the past but also because the style of Krizia matches perfectly my own aesthetics and taste of design.

WWD: Mariuccia Mandelli made history with Krizia. What is her main talent and what do you particularly admire?
Z.C.:
Her vision and pioneering spirit, the way she managed to express attitude, strength and powerfulness of women through her works. I admire what Mrs. Mandelli has done for Krizia in the past. Based on what Mrs. Mandelli has built, it will be my challenge and responsibility to make the brand even better.

WWD: What is the brand awareness in China today?
Z.C.:
For the public in China. Krizia is not very well-known, while for the fashion community it is recognized as an iconic brand.

WWD: What are your projects for the brand both in terms of design and distribution?
Z.C.:
In terms of design, I will spend one year studying the archive pieces of Krizia, finding its spirit and characteristics, try to draw the key elements from the style and combine them with modern twists that correspond to the current trend. In terms of retail, we have plans to relaunch the flagship store in Milan, then gradually reopen flagship stores in the most important cities of Europe, Japan, USA and open new flagship stores in China.

WWD: Who will design the line?
Z.C.:
Me, and my future design team for Krizia. We will recruit excellent designer talents worldwide to form the new design team. I will work together with them to restore the past glory of Krizia. We will rebuild it as a pure Made in Italy brand. The collection will be designed and produced entirely in Italy with Italian fabrics.

WWD: Krizia was a pioneer in expanding its product offer in terms of licensing and a different range of lines. Is this something you would like to pursue or would you like to focus on the Krizia brand alone?
Z.C.: At the start phase, we will for sure focus only on the Krizia line. We will have to bring Krizia to the heights that it would have achieved first. Starting from there we will assess the past business models and define the next steps.

WWD: Are your plans in women’s wear mainly?
Z.C.: Yes, women’s wear and accessories.