MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Italy's Valentino has pinned down the right balance for the fashion brand whose founder retired last year with its latest womenswear collection receiving "great response" from press and buyers, its CEO said.
Valentino's founder, Valentino Garavani, retired last year after heading the house for nearly half a century and making its trademark red evening gowns regulars on the red carpets at the Oscars, Cannes film festival and elsewhere.
His successor Alexandra Facchinetti lasted less than a year before leaving "embittered." She was replaced by in-house team Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli.
Last month they showed short feminine dresses with ruffles and dramatic bows at their spring/summer 2010 show in Paris.
"The collection got a great response in terms of press," Valentino Fashion Group Chief Executive Stefano Sassi told reporters on the sidelines of a fashion event on Tuesday.
"We are satisfied as it represents the new vision of Valentino that we were looking for -- it had personality, it was autonomous but also it was linked to Valentino's history but also very new and diverse."
"The right balance is not easy to find. I believe that we are on the right path in having pinned it down firmly," he said.
Sassi said the line also got positive feedback from buyers and that he was seeing an improvement at the wholesale level.
"You still need time to talk about a stable improvement in the market," he said.
U.S. consultancy Bain & Co expects global luxury sales to fall 8 percent this year -- or 11 percent at constant exchange rates -- to 153 billion euros ($223.8 billion) as the crisis saps demand for designer clothes, jewelry and watches.
Valentino is part of Valentino Fashion Group which also includes the Hugo Boss and Marlboro labels. It was bought by private equity group Permira in 2007.
Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by Paul Casciato $1=.6835 Euro