LOEWE’S SETS SMALL FALL GROUP FROM NARCISO

Byline: Katherine Weisman

PARIS — Loewe customers will get a sneak preview this November of what new designer Narciso Rodriguez has in mind for the Spanish luxury label.
Rodriguez has created a small fall evening grouping, which will be rolled out in eight Loewe stores here and in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid and Valencia, Spain.
The pieces will be in stores just five months after the designer officially was named to his post and two seasons before his first full collection, which is slated for fall 1998. The fast turnaround is a tribute to the quick decision-making at Loewe and the manufacturing know-how of the company’s Spanish factories, Rodriguez said.
The house’s accessories will be revamped under the eye of Robert Page, who was snared away from Calvin Klein to be Loewe’s creative director of accessories, starting with the fall 1998 season.
Rodriguez spoke with WWD on Friday in Paris after a meeting with executives from Loewe’s parent, Louis Vuitton. “My goal for Loewe is to make it a complete collection,” he explained. “One thing missing from Loewe was the couture and glamour.”
Loewe fashion, historically, has been mainly daywear. Rodriguez declined to give design specifics about the fall evening group, in part because the final items in the line have not been chosen, but also because he’s eager to surprise potential clients.
Retail prices for the outfits will be determined once the number of pieces is decided.
Rodriguez noted the idea behind this grouping is to help bridge the gap between the Loewe clothes currently in stores, which will be in stores through spring 1998, and the new collection he is designing for fall 1998. The image advertising of the 151-year-old house is evolving under the direction of Peter Arnell with an institutional campaign that broke this fall, a marketing step taken before Rodriguez’s full line hits stores.
The introduction of these dresses is a bit awkward, Rodriguez acknowledged, since the clothes in Loewe stores have nothing at all to do with Rodriguez. In an interesting move to avoid confusing customers, the dresses will be on display only in Loewe store windows and will not hang on the store’s racks.
“This way, customers have to ask to see the clothes,” said a spokeswoman for Loewe.
Rodriguez said he plans to make personal appearances near the end of the year at some of the stores carrying the small line. Currently, there are no plans to have a mini line for spring, the Loewe spokeswoman said.
A Loewe store will open next spring in place of the current temporary Christian Dior shop at 46 Avenue Montaigne. The existing Loewe shop at 57 Avenue Montaigne has been acquired by the Escada group and will house its Laurel collection.
Separately, Rodriguez is preparing his first signature collection to be produced by Italy’s Aeffe group. The line, to be shown in Milan Oct. 5, has an edgy downtown look, the designer said.
Rodriguez said he’s dizzy from all the traveling he has been doing and is grateful to be working with two fashion groups, the smaller Aeffe and the powerhouse Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton and Loewe. He said he was impressed by the technical capacity and resources available to him at both groups.
For Loewe, he is pulling out the stops for elegance.
“All of us new designers at LVMH are doing something different,” Rodriguez said, speaking admiringly of his colleagues John Galliano at Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen at Givenchy and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. “But at the end of the day, LVMH for me is all about couture.”

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