Byline: Holly Haber

DALLAS — Emilio Pucci is set to name its new designer — likely within the next week — who will be charged with expanding the collection and revitalizing the Italian design firm.
That’s the word from Catherine Vautrin, president and chief executive officer, who was in Dallas with other Pucci executives to accept the Fashion Excellence Award from the International Apparel Mart Saturday night at the Dallas Fashion Awards gala.
“We are going to appoint a new extended design team next week,” Vautrin said. “It will be a head designer plus five to 10 people, very edgy talents in many fields. Our top priority is [opening] stores and the other is working on design and expanding the collections and adding shoes and handbags.”
Pucci currently offers small collections of ready-to-wear, eveningwear, swimwear, knitwear, beachwear and lingerie, explained Vautrin, who holds a degree in English law and took the helm of Pucci in May after serving as director of rtw for Louis Vuitton. The company still uses the same silk jersey fabric developed by Emilio Pucci 30 years ago.
“We have five or six styles of shoes now and some bags, but we think there is room for a lot more,” Vautrin added. “We’re considering home furnishings and fragrance. But the priority is ready-to-wear because everything is linked to it and that is the backbone of the image. We don’t want to be nostalgic about what is Pucci, we want to bring it forward to modern times.”
Vautrin was joined by Laudomia Pucci, daughter of the late founder, who had served as creative director and has the new title of image director. Also on hand was Kattell le Bourhis, adviser to Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which bought a 67 percent share in Pucci last February and is on a mission to rebuild the brand.
“Sales have at least doubled this year and we’re very pleased with orders for spring,” Vautrin noted in an interview at the Mart with Pucci and le Bourhis. “They are at least double our last collection, so the trend is very encouraging.”
The executives declined to reveal sales, but Pucci has said that annual volume is about $10 million.
The drive to revive Pucci began earlier this month with the opening of a glamorous new 1,500-square-foot store in Milan on Via Montenapoleone, where ensembles are displayed like art, hanging individually from wires suspended from the ceiling along curved walls lit from behind. The next step is a 600-square-foot boutique slated to open in Palm Beach, Fla., in December.
The company is also looking to relocate and expand its New York store, which sits in a small space on East 64th Street just off Madison Avenue and is “a little recessed,” according to Vautrin. New units will be modeled after the store in Milan.
“Los Angeles is an obvious destination, as well, and maybe Las Vegas,” Vautrin added. “Our top priorities are L.A. and New York, as soon as possible.”
The influence of Pucci’s color-saturated, swirling prints was all over the mart, where many contemporary lines displayed interpretations of the style.
That’s only a plus for the company, asserted le Bourhis.
“A lot of different labels have been helping us by doing Pucci-esque looks and advertising them,” she said.
But Pucci pointed out that the signature prints created by her father, who died in 1992 at the age of 78, represent only part of the story.
“Thanks to this alliance [with LVMH] we can explain what Pucci means in terms of product and image,” she said. “My father started with solids, and he once did a black-and-white collection because he was sick of all the color and prints.”
She plans to organize the house’s archives, creating the Fondazione Emilio Pucci at the Palazzo Pucci in Florence, where she lives with her husband, two children and mother. The intent is to have exhibits and make selections accessible to students and tourists.
“We have a huge number of pieces — 50 years of pictures, fabrics, bottles and packaging,” Pucci noted. “It will be the first homage to my father. It’s a project he would have loved.”
He also would have liked LVMH’s plans for Pucci, she added.
“What we are doing today is probably what he wanted to do,” she said, ” to develop a global brand.”

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