Byline: Kristin Young

BEVERLY HILLS — Consumer confidence and spending are still running high here, as evidenced by a recent round of trunk shows.
Salvatore Ferragamo pulled in more than $500,000 in a three-city tour that ended here at Mr. Chow, while Randolph Duke scored more than $150,000 in six hours at Neiman Marcus.
Ferragamo’s new design team, which has given the Italian brand a younger, edgier look for fall, is beginning to see the fruits of its labor.
The fall ready-to-wear fashion show held here for 120 clients at the Mr. Chow restaurant was, from a financial perspective, the culmination of the line’s most successful tour to date, said the company.
“We wanted to do something to differentiate it from other luxury brands,” said Nicole Fischelis, senior vice president and worldwide fashion director, who flew in from the company’s headquarters in Florence for the event last month. Fischelis was recruited from Saks Fifth Avenue last year to unify the design studios, to take common directions and update the collection.
Fischelis brought in designer Marc Audibet, whose credits include Prada and Cerruti, to head the women’s design studio. Audibet reports to Giovanna Ferragamo, a designer for women’s rtw.
“We had to be about style and not about trends. It’s more about keeping our core business but evolving with a more contemporary approach,” Fischelis said.
This was the first collection directed by Fischelis, and customers seemed to respond favorably to the new direction, with some calling it fresh. Ferragamo showed slim, elongated looks such as floor-length trenchcoats with interesting details like quilting or shearling accents as well as shorter slim skirts with kick pleats and cocktail dresses that exposed the back or were splashed with sequins. Red, ice blue and pink added a little zip to more classic hues such as black, navy blue, brown and camel, especially when worn together.
The trunk show made previous stops in New York and Chicago, but the biggest chunk — $200,000 — came at the Beverly Hills store, according to a company spokesman.
Color was the key element that drove business here, according to store manager Jon Borland, who noted he sold 25 ice blue button-down leather jackets, for $1,200 to $1,600 a pop. A black and brown evening dress with mini paillettes priced at $1,760 was another hot seller. Pink, pale blue and green silk skirts for $410 also did well, and wool ballet tops with scoop necks for $335 and A-line trapeze flare skirts for $460 rounded out clients’ must-have lists, he said.
As reported, Ferragamo has just finished its new fall ad campaign with photographer Patrick Demarchelier and stylist Carolyn Cerf de Dudzeele. The company plans to roll out eight to 10 more stores in the U.S. over the next three to four years. A 9,000-square-foot flagship is set to open in San Francisco in August and is expected to post more than $10 million in annual sales. There is a total of 13 U.S. stores.
Meanwhile, at Neiman’s clients had first dibs on the Randolph Duke resort collection that made its debut here at a trunk show last month. The registers were ringing even before the store’s buyers had a chance to preview the collection. About 70 clients stopped by, according to the retailer.
“It was an interesting test,” said Duke, who was at the event. “The show ended up giving buyers a sense of what would sell.”
Duke was also in town to host a cocktail party and fashion show at the Sky Bar in West Hollywood the night before. Daisy Fuentes, Jennifer Tilly, Natalie Cole and Jamie Foxx were among the 800 who turned out for the fete.
John Martens, general manager at Neiman’s store here, said color and blouses primarily drove business at the trunk show.
“The blouse has been our biggest-selling item [recently],” he said. “Blouses are going to be strong for fall.”
The top seller at the trunk show was a taffeta blouse with two drawstrings down the center that, when pulled, hike up to reveal the midriff. Priced at $1,000, the blouse sold in lobster orange, lavender and lime green, said Martens. Several pieces of the sleeveless version also sold well.
Other hot items were a T-shirt emblazoned with “Feelin’ Randi,” a rhinestone reference to the designer’s nickname, which sold for $80; sequined ombre pants in lavender for $3,995, and sequined ombre short skirts at $2,500 with matching cashmere twinsets at $1,400. A beaded sarong skirt at $2,400 also did well, said Martens.
Duke said about $150,000 in orders was taken in six hours.
“L.A. is a fabulous market for us,” he continued. “The customer gets it. There’s a tremendous synergy with the product.”
Matthew Amendolaro, Neiman’s couture manager here, who helps buyers at the company headquarters in Dallas edit their choices, agreed that tracking what customers bought will prove invaluable to future buys.
“It’s rare to have that opportunity,” he said. “We are going to buy the collection according to the response.”

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