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Designer Bartlett Cuts Ties to Byblos

March 24, 2000|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN | TIMES SENIOR FASHION WRITER

New York designer John Bartlett and the Italian design company Byblos mutually agreed to end their association this week.

After five seasons with Byblos, Bartlett traded his creative director title for an outside consultant position and also ended his licensing agreement--a move he initiated for "quality of life" reasons.

"We wanted to work from New York, where my inspiration comes from," Bartlett said Wednesday in Los Angeles, where he is conducting store seminars, where he is meeting with the sales staff and other store personnel to talk about his collection.

At Byblos, he'll continue to advise the company on silhouette, trends and colors, which a team of designers in Italy will interpret, he said.

Byblos, which is part of the Genny Group, will finish production of his fall 2000 men's and women's collections before ending the license. Since 1997, Bartlett has designed 10 collections a year for the men's and women's sides of his New York-based signature label and for Byblos.

"You become a bit of a machine, and it does make it tough," he said. "What it means for me is less travel and more quality of life, which is important," Bartlett said. Prior to Bartlett, Los Angeles designer Richard Tyler designed Byblos' lines for two seasons. Like Tyler, Bartlett's signature collections have earned steady praise, while the Byblos reviews have been mixed.

The split allows Bartlett to entertain other offers. Already, executives from Christian Dior have scouted his runway, he said.

"More important, it frees us to really focus on John Bartlett and refining the look, which . . . is what I really wanted to do." he said. "I just feel that at this point, there are so many designers for other houses, it's gotten so out of control."

Bartlett said he is seeking a financial partner to expand his signature lines into men's tailored clothing, swimwear and more, and to build stores.

"It was an amazing three years, but it's time to bring it all back under one roof," he said.

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