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Fashion Notes

The Changing of the Guard Continues for the Major Houses

September 29, 2000|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN | TIMES SENIOR FASHION WRITER

MILAN — Keeping track of international fashion gets harder by the season as designers come and go and their owners swap control as if they're shuffling cards. As the spring 2001 ready-to-wear shows continue here until next Friday, retailers and press alike are anticipating changes at several houses.

Jil Sander sold a majority stake of her business to Prada--then promptly quit--and the spring 2001 show will be the first without her personal direction. At Byblos, American designer John Bartlett terminated his three-year relationship as creative director with the house this summer. He's now an outside consultant who will advise a team of designers on trends. The result of that collaboration appears in the spring show.

Meanwhile, over on Via Manin, Marriuccia Mandelli found new blood for her 45-year-old Krizia line by hiring Alber Elbaz, formerly of Yves Saint Laurent, and before that, of Guy Laroche. Elbaz was replaced at YSL by Milan's top gun, Tom Ford, who now creatively controls both Gucci and YSL.

Hugo Boss trots out another new women's line, Boss Woman, designed by a former Donna Karan designer, Grit Seymour.

Perhaps the most notable accomplishment won't be from the newcomers, but the veterans. Giorgio Armani marks his 25th year in business, just as his aesthetic opposite, the lavish Gianfranco Ferre and his former partner, Franco Mattioli, are reportedly nearing a decision about selling a controlling portion of the business.

In recent weeks, the Prada Group expanded its luxury goods holdings by forming a partnership agreement with Paris-based designer Azzedine Alaia, whose body-hugging silhouettes are having a revival on other runways.

And in late October, Prada will unveil its first foray into the beauty business--a skin care collection of single-unit doses--in boutiques around the world, including Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.

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Valli Herman-Cohen can be reached at valli.herman-cohen@latimes.com.

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