Couture house Valentino sees 'brisk' business

Updated: 2011-07-08 08:10

By Astrid Wendlandt (China Daily)

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PARIS - The Italian fashion brand Valentino is enjoying solid demand for haute couture pieces, thanks to Middle Eastern, Russian and US buyers and trading overall continues to improve, its head said on Wednesday.

Chief Executive Stefano Sassi said buyers from China, the biggest growth market for many luxury brands, were starting to emerge but it was still early days.

"The Chinese - they are just starting. The most important are Middle Eastern customers, followed by the Russians and Americans," Sassi told Reuters in an interview after the brand's haute couture show in a private mansion in Paris.

For next season's haute couture collection, the brand favored by Hollywood actresses and European monarchs opted to woo Russian buyers, who have made a strong comeback in luxury boutiques since the 2009 downturn.

Valentino unveiled a collection inspired by the tsarinas of Moscovia and the empire's Boyar guards, mixing fairy-tale style with military details, which drew the awe of fashion critics and celebrities.

"When I was a little girl, I dreamed of dresses like this. This is one of my favorite collections, the best one I have ever seen," actress Anne Hathaway said after the show.

Striking pieces included embroidered long black velvet dresses, straight gilded tunics and short cocktail dresses as well as see-through long dresses ornamented with silk roses, bronze lace or feathers.

"We have very good Russian customers," Sassi said, adding these customers were attracted by the brand's glamorous image. "And in Russia, there are a lot of very affluent people."

While demand for couture remained buoyant, Sassi said the brand's ready-to-wear business was also growing well and overall the company achieved a 25 percent rise in first-half sales.

Sales rose 20 percent in 2010.

Sassi said demand was driven by all of the brand's main markets in Asia, the United States and Europe.



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