Cristina Ortiz

Brioni said Tuesday it tapped Spanish designer Cristina Ortizas as creative director for its growing women's collection.

MILAN — Cristina Ortiz is set to inject some femininity into Brioni.

The company said Tuesday it had tapped the Spanish designer as creative director of its growing women’s collection, confirming a WWD report.

Ortiz’s first collection will bow for fall 2006 and be presented during the Milan collections in February.

“It makes sense that a woman should be designing for women,” Umberto Angeloni, chief executive officer of Brioni, told WWD. “Ortiz marks the next phase of Brioni’s women’s collection, which is a more mature phase.”

Ortiz, who designed Lanvin from 1997 to 2002, said she wanted to pull from Brioni’s DNA, but make the collection distinctly feminine. “I don’t want to take men’s clothes and put them on women,” she said. “I want to take the quality of Brioni and details from its tailoring, and transmit them into a collection that is current and feminine. The collection is for a woman who is sophisticated and refined.”

Known for her sharp tailoring and minimalist bent, Ortiz brought a sexy, modern image to Lanvin and went on to consult at Prada and Max Mara before taking a pause from fashion to have her second child.

The Brioni women’s collection, launched in 2001, has had moderate success, generating about 8 percent, or 14 million euros, ($16.8 million at current exchange) of the firm’s annual sales, which are expected to reach 172 million euros ($206.9 million) this year. However, under former designer Fabio Piras, the collections often lacked a clear point of view.

Angeloni said he believed Ortiz would bring a focused image to the collection, which is produced in-house at Brioni’s factories in Abruzzo, Italy.

“We spent the last four years working to build the infrastructure to produce the collection, implementing the right people and better understanding our target audience,” Angeloni said. “Cristina will bring a much more focused image to the brand.”

Angeloni said women’s wear should grow to about 25 percent of Brioni’s sales within the next five years. “We’re looking for organic growth,” he said. “Women’s will always be smaller than men’s.”

Angeloni said Ortiz signed a five-season contract and that an accessories collection would be launched during her third season.

This story first appeared in the October 19, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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