Chanel smolders, Valentino grins on Paris catwalks

Tue Mar 8, 2011 4:07pm EST
 
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By Nick Vinocur

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Italian fashion brand Valentino said on Tuesday that 2011 had started well and fended off rumors it was preparing to put itself on the auction block.

"It (the sale) is something that will happen some years from now," Valentino Chief Executive Stefano Sassi told Reuters in a backstage interview after its Autumn/Winter 2011 ready-to-wear catwalk show for Paris Fashion Week. "This year will be the year we focus a lot of attention on retail."

He said Valentino sales to date had been stronger than last year, but that it was too early for a full-year forecast.

Staged under a tent in the Tuileries garden, Valentino's dresses were simple and truly ready-to-wear, verging toward a high street look rather than the theatrical designs which might not look as good on retail customers searching for wearable fashion as they do on a runway model in a glitzy show.

Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli unveiled close-fitting knit dresses with visible ribbing, a schoolgirl-ish flared coat in Prussian blue, and a series of evanescent floor-length gowns.

Valentino shares private equity firm Permira as controlling shareholder with German fashion house Hugo Boss which was hived off from the Valentino Fashion Group when its debt was restructured.

GLOOM AT CHANEL

The mood was distinctly more somber at Chanel where designer Karl Lagerfeld seemed to have been inspired by an apocalyptic future with a collection themed after volcanic landscapes.   Continued...

 
<p>A model presents a creation by German designer Karl Lagerfeld for French fashion house Chanel as part his Fall-Winter 2011/2012 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection show during Paris Fashion Week March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>