Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Maska designer Istvan Francer is preparing to launch a signature collection with backing from the label’s parent company, Fin.part.
Francer, a 13-year veteran of Donna Karan who joined Maska two seasons ago, just after the company was acquired, said he plans to launch the designer-priced sportswear collection in October for the spring 2002 season, while continuing to design the Maska collection.
His signature line will be priced higher than Maska, which U.S. retailers have classified within the “gold range,” or slightly higher than traditional bridge resources. Besides being higher priced, the Francer collection will focus more on separates and artistic elements than the traditional Maska label, which targets career customers with tailored suits and coats.
“With my line, there is a freedom to create something new and to push the borders as far as I can,” Francer said. “Maska is often men’s tailoring designed for a woman, but for my collection, I will start with a sexier suit, maybe a little lighter.”
Gianluigi Facchini, chief executive officer of Fin.part, said sales of the Maska division have increased by 35 percent since Francer joined the house a year ago. Maska was acquired by Fin.part in October 1999. Facchini added that Fin.part is looking to expand its manufacturing holdings in a bid to increase its offerings in accessories, which will be a key part of the Istvan Francer collection.
Fin.part’s recent acquisition of shoe firm Andrea Pfister also is expected to play a key role in the research and development of accessories for its various brands, which now include Cerruti, Frette, Marina Yachting, Henry Cotton’s, Moncler and Best Company.