Catherine Malandrino to Unveil Secondary

Catherine Malandrino to Unveil Secondary

Just 18 months into their investment in Catherine Malandrino's company, Elie Tahari and Arthur S. Levine have been helping the designer build a buzz around her new diffusion collection.

The Catherine Catherine Malandrino label is the trio's first major move since they teamed up. The new line will debut this week at WWD Magic in Las Vegas. So far the collaboration seems to be all hugs and kisses reports WWD. During a preview of the looks there was an overwhelming sense of unity and Levine even commented, "As you can see, this is a real admiration society."

So how is their working relationship really? Tahari and Malandrino said they have "honest exchanges" about each other's designs (sometimes solicited, sometimes not) which are very helpful. Everyone is in agreement that the goal right now is to rebuild the Malandrino brand that had overexpanded and then suffered when the economy fell in 2008. Tahari said, "In this industry, we have, all of us, an issue with egos. If people would remember to control their egos, then the sky is the limit. This is our issue and we say, 'No issues, only solutions. If you have an issue, I have a tissue.' "<

Tahari continued, "My experience has been it's not about us. It's about, 'How can we contribute something to somebody and do it better?' "

"This is really like an in-house project. It's not like giving a license to a company and having to monitor them and worry about them," Levine said. "We know whatever we do is going to be first class. And if it isn't perfect, it's not going to happen."

One such idea is a signature fragrance which would launched next year. As for the timing of other new pursuits, Levine said, "Basically, there are so many coals on the fire...things will probably start to pop in another two months."

Freestanding stores will be added down the road too. As of now, Malandrino has remodeled boutiques in New York's Meatpacking District, SoHo and East Hampton.

"The goal is to build a global brand and this is one step in that process," Tahari said. "The world consists on many levels, with many products and many categories. Fashion is becoming more of a global business especially for America, not for Europeans - it's always been global. More and more people are looking for American designers. When we go to stores in Europe, all the American designers have shops that never happened before. For global expansion, we knew that we needed this category that is being launched now."