2009 October 2
Catching Up with Matteo Marzotto
(PARIS) Matteo Marzotto has long been known--and discussed--in fashion circles, most notably for his tenure as the president of Valentino, which he purchased from Italian conglomerate HdP in 2002 for $210 million and sold to Permira in 2006 for over $1 billion (for a 29.9 percent stake, making Permira the controlling investor). he dapper Milan-based textile magnate was immortalized in Valentino: The Last Emperor, and now, he's back in fashion with a new brand. With a little help from Marni CEO Gianni Castiglioni, Marzotto purchased Vionnet in February 2009 and quickly hired Rodolfo Paglialunga, a 13-year veteran of Prada, to design the collection. Now, one of France's most revered houses is run out of Italy. The Daily caught up with Marzotto as he unveiled the first full Vionnet collection at the Musee de l'Homme in Paris this morning.
What initially interested you in Vionnet?
I have been thinking about a brand with a fantastic past and fantastic heritage. I found in my mind that there are not more than four brands with this story, and one day, a year and a half ago, I found Vionnet by chance--it was completely unexpected. In the meantime, the market turned disastrous, but I believe in being very open and working step-by-step. We are not showing off, we are not destroying everybody--we are doing our job slowly.
Many resort looks were priced under $1,000.
The price point is very good. We want to remain in that range.
What's the best lesson you've learned from working with Valentino?
There is one side, which is image, investment...one side you can never quantify how much it is worth and how much money you throw out of the window. In the turnaround of Valentino, I learned to remain focused and consistence. Even a small [business] needs all the features to make the product salable, and to deliver it, and give service to the customers, and to give the right product and the right time for the right value. It was very clear in Valentino, in 2002, 2003 during the relaunch, and it is still totally valid today.
You had a star turn in Valentino, The Last Emperor.
I feel like a movie star! We'd been fighting. It was a little bit too much. The real thing was not like this. It was much worse [laughs]. Fashion drama is part of the game, but we we have a very nice time together. We are very good friends . Okay, they had to do a movie. They had to do this counterpart; one money-driven figure, and the artist. It was like this sometimes, but you cannot be money-driven in fashion and remain in fashion all times in your life. You can do it, if you're lucky, once, but the majority of them lose money. I made some good value, and that is enough for me. That's why I'm sitting here.
How do you plan to launch Vionnet in a different way?
Consistency. We are going to do what we can afford. We won't do things lightly. We are thinking and thinking, and considering how to make the next step. I don't want to save money on the product--I want to keep them working.
How do you like working with your Rodolfo [Paglialunga]?
He's so sweet, such a piece of art. No problem.
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