NEW YORK — In John Galliano’s first ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy, there’s a touch of Galliano’s spring couture look, some of his greatest hits and a dose of traditional Givenchy. How it will all finally come together depends a great deal on retail response to this pre-fall effort. But there’s no doubt the house expects to attract a new young customer; to this end, the decision has already been made to discontinue production of sizes 16 and 18.
“Pre”-seasons have become increasingly important to the bottom line, accounting for up to 60 percent of seasonal sales at retail. Yet few designers try to conquer new fashion turf with these collections, and Galliano is no exception. While he’s hardly known as a bread-and-butter guy, he’s definitely saving the fireworks for the catwalk. What he does offer is a wildly diverse 40-piece lineup of svelte coatdresses and tuxedo pantsuits, slinky, stretchy satin suits, slender evening dresses and tight, curvy ruffle-edge knits that wink in Westwood’s direction. While it all indicates the need to redefine the house’s customer, Galliano’s fit and attention to detail are typically strong.
“We realize that women very loyal to Hubert may choose not to come back,” says Dennis S. Walker, president of Givenchy Corporation, the house’s American arm. “But at the same time, we expect to attract others. Our sales strategy will not be finalized until everything has been shown to the buyers. We’ll respond to their feedback.” The collection opened here Monday evening. A number of speciality stores that do not currently carry Givenchy have appointments, including Ultimo and Maxfield. The price structure remains intact, retailing from about $600 for a blouse to $5,000 for an evening dress.