Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — It was a brief marriage.
After only seven months and one collection, Valentino and Maurizio Pecoraro have parted ways. The Sicilian designer had been tapped in March to design the new line, Valentino Roma, which bowed for spring this month.
“This was not a traumatic separation, and it was a mutual decision,” said Fabio Giombini, managing director of Valentino. “Pecoraro wanted to pursue the development of his own line, and Valentino Roma is a very demanding project,” he said. Giombini said that Pecoraro was pivotal in organizing the design team and focusing on a specific image and consumer target.
In a phone interview, Pecoraro confirmed that his departure was amicable. The designer, however, said he felt that he needed more independence and autonomy in order to convey his image to the line.
“I didn’t really feel in charge of the collection — there were too many people interfering with my choices,” he said.
Pecoraro, who previously worked with Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace, Les Copains and Antonio Fusco, and is known for his couture-like detailing, is now focused on his own namesake collection, which he launched in September 1998.
“I am still open to collaborations with other fashion houses, but I need to have complete freedom,” Pecoraro said.
Giombini said that, for the time being, the company does not plan to replace Pecoraro with another high-profile designer name.
“It’s all in the quality, not in the name. We recently extended our design team, which is now all based in Milan and follows Pecoraro’s guidelines, under the supervision of Valentino Garavani,” said Giombini.
Francisco Rosas, former director of men’s wear production at Hermes, joined the company in March and is still in charge of the line’s men’s division.
Giombini said he was pleased with sales of Valentino Roma, which were balanced around the world, faring well in Europe — Germany and Italy, especially — Japan and the U.S. He said silk chiffon dresses in striped prints and large, flowing pajama pants were among the line’s bestsellers, together with double-faced dresses featuring a Valentino historic “chain” pattern from the Sixties.
Giombini said the new line will help the company to better penetrate the market.
“Our goal is to reach 400 sales points in two years, with a volume of $50 million,” he said.
Giombini pointed out that the company does not consider Valentino Roma a secondary line and is focused on clearly differentiating the line from Valentino Couture. “This is a young, daywear-oriented line,” he said.
The company brands now include Valentino Couture; Valentino, the high-end luxury line formerly called Valentino Boutique; Valentino Roma, the designer line, and Valentino Garavani, the accessories line launched a year ago, as well as Valentino Jeans and Valentino Sport, both still produced under license.
Giombini said the firm plans to shoot its first Valentino Roma ad campaign by the end of November in New York or London, although he would not disclose the name of the photographer.
“The campaign will help broaden the image of Valentino, which is usually connected to an exclusive, almost untouchable world. We will convey Valentino Roma as more approachable and closer to our daily lives,” said Giombini, noting that the company invested more than 10 percent of sales in the ads. In the first six months of the year, Valentino registered a 25 percent increase in sales to $40.7 million.
On the retail front, the company is renovating the Milan boutique on Via Montenapoleone, which will be ready next year, and will open a Los Angeles boutique in February.
Valentino is part of Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali, which also owns GFT Net, Joseph Abboud and Fila. In addition to its in-house lines, GFT Net also produces collections for Calvin Klein and Antonio Fusco under license.