NEW YORK — Donatella Versace has clearly found the key to retailers’ hearts this season.

This story first appeared in the March 13, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Not only has the fall Versace line been newly snapped up by major stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods, but those retailers are also installing Versace boutiques in their New York and London stores, respectively.

Bergdorf’s, in an aggressive approach toward getting behind au courant designers, has already planned a Versace trunk show for early May and an in-store boutique slated to coincide with the arrival of the collection’s pre-fall line in late August. The size of the boutique and its location have not been finalized.

“Clearly, the Versace show was one of the favorites we’ve seen throughout Europe,” said Ron Frasch, chairman and chief executive officer at Bergdorf Goodman, who was initially impressed with the Versace precollection he viewed in January.

“We were immensely excited and immediately proposed to do something very quickly to promote this rejuvenation of our relationship. I think from Versace’s side, they see it the same way,” said Frasch in a telephone interview from Paris.

The retailer has not carried the line for approximately five years. However, Versace’s elegant turn has been duly noted.

“I’ve seen a real evolution. Donatella has been doing things that I think are sophisticated, feminine and have a wide range of appeal to a Bergdorf customer,” said Robert Burke, the store’s vice president and senior fashion director. “After seeing the fall show, we felt extremely confident that it was the right time and the right season for us to be putting a boutique in the store again.”

The retailer’s trunk show will feature exclusive gowns that will be offered through special orders, “real red-carpet numbers,” said Burke.

The Versace camp, for its part, is happy to be building up its retail business.

“We’ve had a very solid presence in New York with Barneys and with our stores, and this new partnership with Bergdorf’s will formalize our retail position there,” said a Versace spokesman. “We’re also very excited to have a renewed relationship with the store.”

Harrods, which will be carrying the main Versace collection for the first time, is planning a 300-square-foot space for the designer, adjacent to Christian Dior.

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