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This story first appeared in the September 12, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Italian designer Erika Cavallini is scaling up with her new Erika Cavallini Semi-Couture spring collection, launching during Milan Fashion Week.

Cavallini, who built a reputation as a design consultant for several Italian brands, went solo in 2009, launching ready-to-wear and accessories with the collaboration of her husband, Andrea Vincenzi, the firm’s chief executive officer.

Produced in the Emilia-Romagna region, between Bologna and Modena, the fashionable yet wearable Semi-Couture line features high-end fabrics and traditional tailoring.

During her first presentation, scheduled for Sept. 18, Cavallini will unveil the Riviera Cocktail collection, which she said “gives a new interpretation of preppy culture.”

She said she is inspired by the glamour and chic atmospheres of parties described by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jacqueline Kennedy’s timeless style and the ultrachic yet adventurous allure of Grace Kelly in Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief.” The designer juxtaposes luxury fabrics, featuring rich embroideries and summery prints, with feminine and fluid shapes for elongated, contemporary silhouettes. Retail prices range from 117 euros, or about $150 at current exchange, for a T-shirt and 760 euros ($977) for a cotton and linen coat.

Three themes run through the collection: the sailor-styled Marinière, mixing red and white stripes with denim; the more urban Promenade, which features daywear in an elegant palette of tobacco, pale blue and gray, and Color Block, playing with paneling and combinations of bold tones like electric blue and lime yellow, or cherry red with pink.

Highlights include embellished tops, washed and sequinned crepe de chine T-shirts, wide-leg fluid pants, cotton canvas tops with vintage-style prints and high-waist fitted pencil skirts.

Knitwear, dresses and men’s-inspired deconstructed jackets round out the offer, along with a limited-edition denim group of 150 one-of-a-kind vintage boyfriend jeans, embellished with jeweled buttons and striped grosgrain inserts.

Accessories include colorful messenger and shopping bags, khaki canvas totes trimmed with leather and allover hand-embroidered clutches featuring horn handles. Footwear consists of cork and cotton sandals, python and wood clogs decorated with studs and open-toe pumps.

Erika Cavallini Semi-Couture is carried at 180 stores in Italy — including Pupi Solari in Milan, Penelope in Brescia and Gerard Loft in Florence — and is available worldwide at Isetan in Tokyo, Victor and Ma Première Boutique in Paris, and Cielo in San Francisco, among others.

The company says international markets account for 35 percent of total business, with the lion’s share coming from Japan, France, Germany and German-speaking countries.

“We’re going to open our first store in Milan’s Golden Triangle luxe shopping district within a year and one in Paris right after that,” said Vincenzi, adding the company expects to register a 30 percent growth in international sales. “We are finalizing with Bergdorf Goodman in New York and [Le] Bon Marché in Paris.”


NEXT: Galitzine >>


Storied Italian brand Galitzine is gearing up to make a comeback on the international fashion scene. It will present a collection during fashion week on Sept. 20 at Carla Sozzani’s 10 Corso Como luxury emporium.

Founded in 1960 in Rome by Russian émigré Princess Irene Galitzine, who died in 2006, the high-end women’s label became internationally popular, thanks to its innovative palazzo pajamas, worn by trend-setters of the time like Babe Paley, Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.

For the brand’s international relaunch, the company tapped Sergio Zambon as artistic director. He first redesigned a Galitzine outfit in July 2011 when he took part in an Alta Roma couture project called Re-Edition in a partnership with e-tailer Yoox.

“Alta Roma’s mission is to support storied Italian fashion houses,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, president of the group, “and, at the same time, give voice to talented rising designers.”

Egyptian-born and Italy-based Zambon started his career at international fashion houses — including Fendi, where he designed the men’s line for three years, Max Mara and ITR Group — before introducing his Zambon label in 1997, followed by Sergio Zambon in 2010. The designer also created costumes for movies including Luca Guadagnino’s “I Am Love” cult film starring Tilda Swinton.

During Fashion Week, Zambon will pay tribute to the brand’s founder with 20 versions of the palazzo pajamas, which Zambon, inspired by a letter that Jacqueline Kennedy wrote to Galitzine, defined as “a modernist, elegant passe-partout uniform.”

The designer organized the collection in three groups. The first includes cotton outfits featuring printed motifs of stripes, polka dots and checks; the second comprises more classic styles in rich brocades and cloques, while a solemn couture feel runs through the third range, including, a cotton duchesse tunic with a linen plastron embellished with studs and crystals, as well as an asymmetric peplum-inspired blouse.

“Our goal is to reposition the brand in very selected stores, because we will pay more attention to quality than to quantity,” said Galitzine ceo Alessandra Spalletti, who pointed to Italy, the U.S., China and Russia as the most important markets for the brand’s expansion. “Despite the current difficulties, we believe that there is room for small projects like ours, offering innovative and high-quality products.”

The first capsule group will retail between 800 and 1,600 euros ($1,130 to $2,057). Some special-edition pieces will be sold exclusively at starting next month.

Spalletti said the offer will be expanded with other categories including footwear, bags, sunglasses and perhaps beauty, and that the label is expected to break even in three years.