MILAN — Alberta Ferretti is passing the baton to Natalie Ratabesi as creative director of the younger Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti line.

This story first appeared in the October 26, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The British designer’s first collection for the brand will bow for the fall 2013 season.

A Central Saint Martins alumna, Ratabesi was previously a senior creative director at Polo Ralph Lauren. She has also worked for brands including Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino and Gucci.

This is the first time Ferretti has entirely delegated the direction of the Philosophy brand to another designer. “I had been thinking about it for a while and felt this was the right moment to further develop the label in an independent way and differentiating it even more from the signature brand,” Ferretti told WWD.

She explained the decision will allow her to focus more on her namesake label in light of the market’s increased demands and of an increasingly diversified product offer. “Our bridal and demi-couture collections were originally only a few pieces, but they need more attention and time. The accessories category should be expanded. And I feel the need to be more present in more countries around the world. It’s a way to transmit one’s style, but it’s also a way to better understand different issues. It’s limiting to be closed in an office,” she said.

Ferretti praised Ratabesi’s “femininity and energy” and her previous “intense” relevant work experiences. “She is young, strong and determined, I’m sure she will be able to express the spirit of the brand,” observed Ferretti.

The Philosophy line was launched in 1984. In recent years, it has shown at New York Fashion Week. Asked if the brand will continue to do so, Ferretti said, “I want Natalie to feel that the project is hers also in terms of communication, but the idea is to remain in New York, it fits the brand and, also, she was living in that city.”

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Ratabesi said she has always been impressed with Ferretti’s “enduring aesthetic, her clean and contemporary elegance,” and that it was her “desire to project Philosophy’s unique, timeless style and effortless femininity, which have always distinguished the brand, into the future.”

Massimo Ferretti, chairman of parent company Aeffe SpA, said that a lackluster economy needs “stimulating novelties,” and that an “evolution of the market banks on new designers.” He said that a designer’s creativity is called upon more and more, given the increasing number of presentations and collections. “There is a lot to do in so little time, the market is increasingly demanding and it’s essential to provide the right product and the best service,” he noted.

The arrival of Ratabesi “expresses the more dynamic and contemporary essence of our group, which looks to the future opening up to young individuals and offering them top-level opportunities,” he added.

Philosophy is available at 900 points of sale globally and 35 single-brand stores, including corners and shops-in-shop. Ferretti said the priority at the moment is “to push wholesale by offering a wider offer to clients and the right product.” Philosophy accounts for 10 percent of Aeffe’s sales, which last year totaled 246 million euros, or $341.9 million, up 12.2 percent compared with the previous year.

Aeffe controls the Alberta Ferretti, Moschino and Pollini brands and produces and distributes collections for Cacharel and Cédric Charlier. The license with Jean Paul Gaultier will shift to Gibò SpA with the fall 2013 season. In September, Aeffe struck a deal with Emanuel Ungaro to produce and distribute its women’s top line clothing and accessories, tapping young designer Fausto Puglisi as the brand’s new creative director.

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