CAMERINO PLOTS A RENAISSANCE

Byline: Luisa Zargani.

MILAN — It’s not only French designer houses that are getting a dusting.
Armed with a batch of new licensing agreements for everything from ready-to-wear to jewelry and innerwear, the indefatigable Giuliana Camerino, the designer behind the Roberta di Camerino line, is orchestrating a renaissance of the 50-year-old label.
“The label is a sleeping beauty I am trying to reawaken with the help of the designer’s inexhaustible creativity,” said Francesco Pellati, managing director of the company. “Roberta di Camerino still has a lot of potential.”
Pellati joined Roberta di Camerino three years ago and has been pivotal in revamping the house, best known for its fabric bags.
Thanks to actress Grace Kelly, the designer’s apparel collections gained recognition around the world in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. In 1956, the designer was awarded the Neiman Marcus Award for fashion, and in 1963, she showed her clothing collection at Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
In the Eighties, however, Camerino decided to stop distribution of her rtw line in Italy and the U.S., and to focus on the Far East. According to Camerino, the decision to launch a new rtw line today stemmed from requests from American buyers.
“I owe my success in the U.S. to Stanley Marcus, who believed in me from the start and introduced my handbags there in the Fifties,” Camerino recalled.
The first collection, produced and distributed by Gibierre under a five-year license, will bow for spring 2001. The collection will include easy dresses with a focus on colorful prints, and the designer will reprise her historical bestsellers: the “panel dresses” with printed pleats, stripes and geometric patterns for a trompe-l’oeil effect.
“These are my evergreens,” she said
Gibierre plans to produce 120 Roberta di Camerino pieces for the first collection. The line will include daywear, eveningwear and beach/casualwear. Pants are set to retail at around $200, jackets between $600 and $800, dresses around $600 to700 and panel dresses around $1,200. Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Jeffrey and other boutiques are expected to carry the line.
Last year, the U.S. accounted for 10 percent of total sales when Roberta di Camerino reported retail sales of $212 million through current licenses, plus an additional $33.5 million through new licenses. By 2003, the company expects total sales of $360 million.
Projects in the works include a new fragrance, a Milan showroom, Internet sales and freestanding stores in Italy. The Venice-born Camerino currently lives in Lugano, Switzerland, but maintains her atelier and headquarters in her hometown.
She even owns her own island in the Venice laguna, where she has restored a historical theater and where she keeps her archival designs and photos, many portraying the designer arm-in-arm with countless celebrities ranging from Ava Gardner to Salvador Dali to Andy Warhol.