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As designers such as Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs (see related story) and Calvin Klein continue to expand globally, there's also an ongoing interest in the city's young talent for collaborations with retailers like Target and for top design jobs at European houses. Meanwhile, private equity funds continue to be smitten with the allure of fashion, forking out cash to help designers grow their businesses.
Gotham's fashion action will kick into high gear with fashion week here in February, when two legendary American fashion houses, Halston and Bill Blass, are scheduled to take their highly anticipated stabs at reinvention.
Halston was bought by The Weinstein Co. and Hilco Consumer Capital last March. Entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein's involvement, along with that of Tamara Mellon, who turned Jimmy Choo into a luxury brand, and Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe, has generated a lot of buzz for this relaunch. Under president and chief executive officer Bonnie Takhar and creative director Marco Zanini, the plan is to build a leading fashion and luxury brand with clothing, handbags and shoes.
"I wish to bring back that sense of glamour and refinement that is still so contemporary to me," Zanini, a Versace alum, told WWD in July.
Meanwhile, Peter Som will do his part to try to update Bill Blass, having been tapped as the creative director of its women's division last July. Since the late Blass retired in 1999, the house had gone through three designers and, along the way, lost some of its fashion relevance. Som's mandate is to finally bring the house into this century and he will show his full vision on his first runway outing in February.
It is also worth watching how several designers who sold a stake in their businesses or signed collaboration deals this year will grow their businesses in 2008. For some of these designers, the much-needed cash will help them move from emerging talent to establishment.
Som, for instance, sold a majority stake of his own firm to NRDC Equity Partners, the owner of Lord & Taylor, last September and is expected to expand his business next year.