Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Lars Nilsson, who immigrated to the Seventh Avenue fashion scene last year as design director for the women’s collection at Polo Ralph Lauren, has jumped to Bill Blass as senior designer for the line’s impending relaunch under the direction of Steven Slowik.
Nilsson was director of the haute couture studio for John Galliano at Christian Dior prior to joining Lauren and had previously been Christian Lacroix’s personal assistant for nine years.
Nilsson and Slowik, who was named to succeed Bill Blass as design director at the house in February, had met previously while Slowik was designing a signature ready-to-wear collection in Paris.
“To approach the design of a collection of this level, with all the work involved and with working with licensees, I needed someone designing closely with me,” Slowik said Friday. “Lars has wonderful European experience with the couture, and I, myself, haven’t worked in couture. Fit and cut are very important to me, and I needed someone to exchange ideas with.”
Nilsson said he was interested in working on the Bill Blass collection, because the reputation of the house is comparable to the French couture, having a large volume of custom-made pieces for a social clientele.
“It was a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to design something very involved and well made for the customers, not making mass-produced clothes,” he said. “Steven’s sensibility of colors and clothes is very European. There are a lot of things to be done in the coming weeks for the show, but this is starting out very well.”
Slowik’s first collection for Bill Blass will make its debut during the New York spring collections in September, but pieces from his early spring collection will be shown to buyers beginning this week.
When Nilsson joined Ralph Lauren in June 1999, the company said the design director position was a new post, reporting to Max Wilson, vice president of design for the women’s collection. Lauren officials could not be reached for comment.

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