Byline: Holly Haber

A bit of Parisian flair can be seen in Berman & Associates, where Renato Nucci is presenting its fall collection.
Designed and sewn in Paris by Renato Nucci, a native of Italy who was raised in France, the bridge line approaches fall style with sophisticated ensemble dressing in rich colors and European fabrics.
Fall looks revolve around item jackets in silk and wool blend tweeds and boucles, paired with matching bottoms, or coordinated with silk shantung and silk taffeta tops and bottoms that are dyed to match. Color stories are in orange, chocolate, olive, red, raspberry, violet and beige. Printed charmeuse blouses and leather hip-hugger bootleg pants add kick to the line.
“There is always something going on — a touch of imitation Mongolian lamb, or embroideries on wool, or beading on wool,” explained Madeline Sanjurjo, U.S. sales manager for the New York-based Renato Nucci. “It is really a visual collection.”
Intended for women who like to wear polished, put-together styles for their outings to country clubs and charity luncheons, Renato Nucci comprises more than 180 pieces. It is sold strictly to specialty stores.
“It’s a special, item-y collection geared toward boutiques,” Sanjurjo explained. “We feel it needs the attention of a salesperson who can guide a customer through how it looks and how it should fit. In a department store, you pick from the rack and that’s it.”
The line did about $1.5 million at wholesale in the U.S. last year and is aiming for a 30 to 40 percent increase in 2001, Sanjurjo said. Renato Nucci also opened a boutique in New York’s SoHo last September. In total the firm does about $20 million at wholesale each year, with the bulk of sales to European countries including France, Italy, England, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Wholesale prices generally are $120 to 220 for jackets, $60 to $150 for pants, $40 to $80 for sweaters and $70 to $120 for dresses; while leather pants are $188 for black and $269 for colored. Renato has European sizing from 34 to 46, equivalent to 2 to 14 in the U.S., and shows two collections each year.
Among the stores that have bought the line are JoAnn’s and Tootsies, both in Houston; Ruth Meyers, in Oklahoma City; Avant Garde, in Beverly Hills; She of Louisville, in Kentucky; and Bagatelle in New Orleans. Renato Nucci also is shown by Don Overcast at Atlanta’s Americasmart.
“It’s a European line, so they have wonderful fabrications and it’s very designer-looking,” said JoAnn Burnett, owner of JoAnn’s chain in Houston, which has sold the line for several years. “We’re a classic store but Renato Nucci has been a resource that always allows me to push forward each season with something that may not be edgy, but has a little more fashion [to it].”
Burnett noted that Renato Nucci has expanded its all-season fabrications with lots of silks this fall, which is helpful for the hot climate in Houston.
Carrie Bobo, contemporary and young designer buyer for Tootsies in Houston, bought Renato Nucci for spring only for the chain’s Dallas store.
“It fills that void that we miss sometimes, where everyone is asking for great little wedding or luncheon outfits at a good price point,” Bobo said.
“It’s very feminine and pretty but not overboard.”