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After four years as senior designer of Balenciaga’s ready-to-wear collections, where he worked closely with then-creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, Julien Dossena in 2013 set up his own label, naming it Atto after his father.

This story first appeared in the March 26, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

He launched it with Lion Blau, another Balenciaga alum, who serves as junior designer on Dossena’s team. “We went from department store to department store to find out what sells and to see what space we could fill in luxury,” said Dossena, a graduate of La Cambre in Brussels (while there, he won the jury prize in Hyères). Dossena quickly realized that fancy design was in abundance but finding a “good quality white shirt or gabardine skirt,” he noted, proved a challenge. “I wanted to create this immediate desire — a wardrobe that is super low-key but luxurious and with a twist.” A mohair turtleneck from pre-fall, for instance, was done in a subtle mix of white, gray and light blue, combining simplicity and sophistication.

Dossena, who is also creative director at Paco Rabanne, insists there is no storytelling involved in his clothes. Instead, he said, his approach is “very mathematical. It’s a classic French wardrobe — a sweater, a raincoat, a pair of pants.” In another practical twist, the designer deliberately presents his clothes, all made in France, during pre-seasons only. “For a small brand that makes more sense,” he said, citing easier access to press and buyers.

Atto is now carried in 23 doors, including Dover Street Market, Harvey Nichols and Kirna Zabête. Prices range from 450 euros, or $625 at current exchange, for a Neoprene skirt, to 1,400 euros, or $1,947, for a double-crepe dress. “The idea is you get what you buy,” Dossena said. “These are pieces you are supposed to keep for life.”

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