Feb 25, 2014
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Armani ends fashion week, Chinese firm buys Krizia

Feb 25, 2014

MILAN, Italy - Giorgio Armani closed Milan Fashion Week on Monday, as historic label Krizia said it was being bought by a Chinese firm and luxury giant LVMH announced a deal with a young Italian designer in key signs of change for the industry.

Emporio Armani Fall/Winter 2014/15 | Source: Pixelformula

Dressed entirely in black, Italy's 79-year-old fashion king bowed and applauded at the end of his catwalk show, which featured a sober colour palette with lime green linings and trimmings.

Trouser suits were roomy - a key trend during the autumn/winter womenswear collections this year, which have also been filled with opulent furs, global nomad looks and bold colours.

DSquared2 also on Monday staged an eccentric show set in an asylum that included a pillow fight and designs that were part sado-masochist, part 1960s glamour, part old-school stewardess.

As celebrity parties and behind-the-scenes transactions wound down in Italy's economic capital, two deals were the talk of the town.

Krizia, one of Italy's first ready-to-wear brands, said it was being bought by Chinese retailer Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co, whose owner Zhu ChongYun will be the new chairman and creative director of the Milan-based label.

"My team and I are delighted to have found in Mrs Zhu ChongYun a successor to our work. She has strength and talent and is willing to lead Krizia's international growth," said Mariuccia Mandelli, who founded the company in 1954.

The value of the deal was not disclosed and Krizia said in a statement that it was expected to be completed within the next few months.

The plan is to revamp the brand over the next five years by opening Krizia flagship stores across China, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu, Krizia said.

Krizia made its catwalk debut at Florence's Palazzo Pitti in 1964 and at its peak in the 1990s it had a global network of stores although it has since been on the decline.

Shenzhen Marisfrolg had a turnover of $419 million (305 million euros) last year and has the highest market share in high-end womenswear in China, the statement said.

China is a major market for Italian luxury brands, and Chinese firms have shown growing interest in investing directly in Italy.

Another deal making waves was the announcement by France's LVMH, the world's top luxury firm, that it was launching a joint venture with the Rome-based designer and label Marco de Vincenzo.

"This new partnership is in the DNA of LVMH, which has always supported young designers," Delphine Arnault, daughter of LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault, said in a statement.

"We are convinced that together we will develop successfully his brand," said Delphine Arnault, who has spearheaded the conglomerate's purchase of new labels in recent years.

No further details about the deal were given.

De Vincenzo, a former accessories designer for LVMH-owned Fendi, said of the French giant: "My experience has grown with them, keeping up with the confidence they have always placed in me".

Backstage after his own show on Sunday, de Vincenzo said: "Now I can be calmer from the point of view of production because if you are on your own the risks increase".

LVMH has recently invested in two up-and-coming British fashion brands, J.W. Anderson and Nicholas Kirkwood, reflecting a growing interest in new sources of creative talent and potential business growth as bigger labels flag.

Rival French luxury group Kering, which owns Gucci, has also taken stakes in London-based Christopher Kane and up-and-coming French-American designer Joseph Altuzarra.

Sicily-born de Vincenzo, who moved to Rome to attend the European Design Institute when he was 18, is best known for his experimental use of fabrics and his penchant for geometric patterns.

De Vincenzo made his Milan debut in 2009.

Staged in the spectacular Hall of Caryatids in Milan's Royal Palace, which was partly destroyed in World War II, his latest collection showed his continued interest in material, including dresses made out of Lurex - a metallic yarn.

The label said it explored "motifs that deceive the eye to create personal paths in design".

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