MILAN — Agnona has appointed Gunn Johansson its new women’s designer, effective with the spring 2006 season.

Johansson will present the collection during fashion week here in September.

In a statement issued last week, Agnona also said it has appointed Laura Poretti merchandising and retail director and Rossella Colombo communications and image director.

The announcements are in line with Agnona’s goal to evolve into a more fashion-oriented company, a process being helped by former Gucci chairman Domenico De Sole. This spring, De Sole was tapped as a board member of Zegna Group, which controls Agnona. Gildo Zegna, co-chief executive officer of the group, said De Sole was “instrumental in putting a good structure together.”

Johansson started her career at the American label Tse, where she was creative coordinator of the cashmere collections. In 1998, she launched her own collection, “hLam,” with her husband, Pierangelo D’Agostin, and became creative director of knitwear company Malo. Last year, Johansson was part of the women’s design team at Jil Sander.

“This new designer will keep the strategy of using our beautiful fabrics and work to create new fabrics. Now our house is in order and we can grow,” said Tord von Dryssen, ceo of Agnona.

In a statement, Agnona said the designer’s “sensitivity and professional background make her the perfect interpreter of the new Agnona woman: modern, inquisitive, spontaneous and with a strong personality.”

Von Dryssen said the new ready-to-wear collections will aim at a customer between 35 and 60, with the bulk in their 40s, and focus on a more modern line and sophisticated customer.

“Most of the designers that we all admire … all of them target a younger woman, but a lot of women around 40 years old want to wear beautiful clothes. This is a feminine way of dressing for every day, with great cuts and beautiful fabrics,” said von Dryssen.

Johansson succeeds Tomaso Stefanelli, and the brand’s creative director, Daniela Cattaneo, has left the company after three years. Poretti was previously buyer, style coordinator and purchasing manager at department stores La Rinascente.

The Biella-based Agnona was founded in 1955 by Francesco Ilorini Mo as a textile company. Until the Seventies, when the company introduced its own rtw, knitwear, accessories and home collections, Agnona provided fabrics for companies such as Christian Dior and Chanel. Today, together with Loro Piana, Agnona has the exclusive rights to work with the luxurious vicuna. It also works with Peruvian alpaca and cashmere.

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In 2004, Agnona reported consolidated revenues of $36 million, or 30 million euros at current exchange rates. Von Dryssen said the company has an “aggressive” growth target, but declined to provide specific figures.

The company lists 12 brand stores, including three in the U.S., where it is also available at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Von Dryssen said the line was presented to both stores last week and had a “very positive reaction.”

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