>> Just a few short days after showing his Spring 2012 collection for Vionnet, Rodolfo Paglialunga has left the brand. “Rudy is a talented designer who has allowed us to restart a sleeping brand,” co-owner Matteo Marzotto said, noting that the decision was consensual. Marzotto added that he has big plans to further grow Vionnet and extend its product offering. Italian twin sisters Barbara and Lucia Croce have been tapped to replace Paglialunga, who joined Vionnet in February 2009. [WWD]
Vionnet is a French house at heart, but ever since Matteo Marzotto acquired it in 2009, he's been adding Italian flavor. His latest addition is Italian shoe god Giuseppe Zanotti. "The value of having [Zanotti’s] experience at our disposal is to work on different shapes, to work in the best way with different materials," he said. The 25-piece collection, ranging from $555 to $740, is all about restrained elegance. Leather and silk fabrics fuse. And they are all original, no replicas of old Vionnet footwear. "These are the opposite of the trendy shoes. Nothing heavy, nothing out of proportion, elements from the Thirties and Forties to the present," is how Zanotti describes his work. See the 10 finest up close.
>> European private equity firm Permira, which bought minority stakes in Valentino and Proenza Schouler in May and July 2007, respectively, is reportedly looking to sell its interest in the labels. Permira denied that it is putting out feelers, but WWD reports that sources say otherwise, and several investment funds have looked at both labels.
One "well-placed source" is cited as saying that the situation with Proenza Schouler is "all very agreeable . . . [Permira is] trying to find a way out and working on a possible deal together with [Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez] . . . I believe the problem is that the brand is absorbing too much cash: It’s still a small business that requires a lot of investment to grow.”
>> French Buyers Were Not Enthused When Matteo Marzotto Took Over Vionnet —Matteo Marzotto, who was president of Valentino from 2002 to 2008, chats about his newest venture, the relaunch of French house Vionnet under the design capabilities of Prada alum Rodolfo Paglialunga: "One of the hardest things I have had to do since my business partner Gianni Castiglione [husband of Marni's Consuelo Castiglione] and I bought Vionnet in 2008 was calling stores and saying, 'Hi, do you remember me? I have bought this brand and it is going to be very glamorous. I would like you to come and see it.' I sent an average of 25 e-mails to each buyer, and wrote them letters explaining why we were doing it, and reminding them of my track record. I made it very personal. Even then, in the beginning, almost no French buyers came." [Financial Times]
>> Natalia Vodianova, Franca Sozzani Make Vanity Fair's 2009 International Best-Dressed List —Vanity Fair just released the contents of its annual International Best-Dressed List from its September issue, and there are fashion figures galore; a whole category was devoted to "Fashion Professionals," which Franca Sozzani, Georgina Chapman, Tory Burch, Style.com's Candy Pratts Price, Rachel Roy, Edun's Ali Hewson, Prada France's Mathilde Meyer-Agostinelli, David Lauren populate. Natalia Vodianova and Justin Portman are included in the "Couples" named; Bruce Weber and Peter Beard are listed under "Fashion Originals"; Matteo Marzotto, formerly of Valentino and currently of Vionnet, is on the Men's Best-Dressed List; and Lapo Elkann made the Hall of Fame. Anna Wintour wasn't included, but she did get a nod from Renee Zellweger, who listed her among her style icons. [Vanity Fair]
>> INSIDER WIRE —No one ever said Valentino was easy to work with, but former Valentino CEO Matteo Marzotto, who hosted a press conference in Milan today for his new Vionnet acquisition, basically confirmed it. "For the first time in my life I’m working with somebody who’s down to earth [newly-hired Vionnet designer Rodolfo Paglialunga]. As you can imagine — and I loved it very much — but I’ve been working with superstars. They can be difficult." [Heard on the Runway]
>> INSIDER WIRE —Confirming last week's reports, former Valentino chairman Matteo Marzotto and Marni's CEO Gianni Castiglioni have bought Vionnet. Creative directorship has been placed in the hands of Rodolfo Paglialunga, a twelve-year veteran of Prada, where he was one of Miuccia's assistants. The first designs will preview in early June, and Rodolfo will make his runway debut during Paris Fashion Week in October, the same time that Phoebe Philo makes her runway debut at Celine. [WWD]
>> INSIDER WIRE —Soon enough, Rochas and Halston won't be the only labels in resuscitation mode — former Valentino chairman Matteo Marzotto just bought French couture house Vionnet, according to sources. Like the two aforementioned (and Bill Blass), Vionnet has had a difficult past — Sophia Kokosalaki, who was expected to reinvigorate the brand, left just a year into her creative director post in May 2007, and her replacement, Marc Audibet, departed a year ago after one season. [WWD]