Feb 22, 2008
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New faces at Valentino, Ungaro

Feb 22, 2008

PARIS, Feb 22, 2008 (AFP) - Stepping into someone else's shoes is never easy, least of all when it is the likes of the veteran Italian designer Valentino, who retired in January after a triumphant four decades at the top.

Alessandra Facchinetti - Photo : AFP

Alessandra Facchinetti faces a daunting debut when she presents her first collection for the house in the ready-to-wear womens' wear shows for next autumn-winter which kick off on Sunday.

For Facchinetti the situation will be only too familiar, as she was designated by Gucci to replace the idolised Texan Tom Ford after his acrimonious departure in 2004.

She stayed only two seasons in that job, leaving to work for the winter sports brand Moncler before joining Valentino's team and being appointed in September to take on the master's mantle.

For Esteban Cortazar, who is only 23, the stakes are every big as high although he does not have such a hard act to follow. He was named creative director at Ungaro three months ago to take over from Norwegian Peter Dundas, who was sacked in July after only 18 months for failing to come up to expectations.

The house, which did not present a collection in October, decided it needed a jolt in the arm and is pinning its hopes on Cortazar, who has something of a wunderkind reputation.

Esteban Cortazar - Photo : AFP

Born in Colombia, but with British nationality, he has lived in the United States since he was 11. At the tender age of 15 he presented his first collection of around 30 designs at a collective show in Miami fashion week and has had his own label since 2002. He has since won a celebrity following, dressing the actress Eva Longoria, soul diva Beyonce and heiress Paris Hilton among others.

Other newcomers to watch will be the new design duo at Cacharel, Mark Eyel and Wakoko Kishimoto, based in London's Brixton, and the Japanese couple Iku Furudate and Kaito Hori for the label Commuun, who cite the countryside as a major influence and are heavily eco-conscious, using only natural, organic fibres.

New Delhi-based Manish Arora, a defector from London, who wowed audience in Paris for the first time last October with his rumbustious mix of Andy Warhol Pop Art and Bollywood, has kept his promise to be back again this season. He unveils his second collection on Sunday, the first day of fashion week.

Fellow Indian Rajesh Pratap Singh, likewise based in New Delhi, is also showing in Paris for the first time on Sunday after developing his label in India and Italy. At home he has been working closely with craftsmen in his native Rajasthan to bring technical innovation to the traditional "khadi" handspun and handwoven cotton and wool and working with a cooperative among the shepherds in Ladakh to promote India's finest cashmere.

by Dominique Schroeder

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