Byline: Leonard McCants

NEW YORK — Kellwood is capitalizing on a good thing.
The giant apparel maker wants to extend the brand awareness of its moderate-price Studio Ease dress line and is launching a social occasion collection called Studio Nights by Farnaz Harouni. It premiers this week for fall retailing.
“With the growth of the Studio Ease daytime line, we wanted to capture the piece of the business that we didn’t have,” said Penny Aschkenasy, executive vice president of merchandising and sales for Kellwood’s ENC unit.
The line, with an emphasis on velvets, stretch organza, matte jersey and beaded lace, will be priced from $24 to $69 wholesale and handled as a separate division from Studio Ease.
Aschkenasy projected Studio Nights would ring up $10 million in sales in its first year, in 700 to 900 doors. She is looking to place it in Nordstrom, Macy’s, May Co. and J.C. Penney, in addition to the Victoria’s Secret catalog.
To help it reach that level, Kellwood is stressing that Studio Nights, while influenced by trends on the runway, will not be a knockoff label. In fact, the designer’s name appears on the label to emphasize that point.
“The integrity of the line is the most important thing,” Aschkenasy said.
Most recently a designer at Tadashi, a better-priced social occasion line, Harouni was born in Tehran, Iran, but immigrated to the U.S. when she was seven years old. She graduated from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
“I try to make every dress look sexy, but still have it look classy, graceful and elegant,” Harouni said.
Those concepts include prom dresses and mother-of-the-bride and bridesmaid looks, but “trying to get away from the stigma of ugly bridesmaid dresses,” Aschkenasy said.
Studio Nights has hired Holly Thorner as executive vice president of sales. She was sales manager and vice president of sales for Danny Meyers, a moderate day and social occasion dress resource.