China’s Zhu charms Milan with promise to preserve an Italian vision for future of Krizia

By Angus Mackinnon, AFP

MILAN–Zhu Chongyun, the glamorous Chinese entrepreneur and designer who has taken over Krizia, has vowed to maintain the historic fashion house’s made-in-Italy heritage. Zhu, who bought the stricken brand from its iconic founder Mariuccia Mandelli earlier this year, outlined her plans in an interview with AFP in Milan during the Spring/Summer 2015 womenswear shows. All being well, she will be back in the city in five months time to present a debut collection of womenswear for the Fall/Winter of 2015, although that launch date has still to be confirmed. “We hope it will be in February 2015 … we hope,” she said with a smile. Zhu, who is based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, has been spending the week in Italy’s fashion capital, taking in the shows and putting together a creative team that will, under her leadership, be charged with reviving a brand that had fallen on hard times in recent years as Mandelli and Aldo Pinto, her husband and business partner, struggled with age-related health problems. The willowy Zhu has also been cutting a dash on the fashion week cocktail circuit, thanks to a catwalk figure and youthful beauty that defy her status as a 50-year-old mother of two. “She’s a walking advert for staying out of the sun and not drinking alcohol,” said an admiring Krizia insider with a smoke-infused cackle. “And it is obvious that she is a really strong woman, just like Mariuccia. You can see why she was attracted to the brand.” Phoenix from the Ashes

Zhu’s takeover is being marked by a multimedia exhibition hosted jointly by the city of Milan and Italy’s national fashion chamber. Backed by some of the country’s most influential fashion publications, the exhibition is part tribute to Mandelli’s heritage as a pioneering female force in the industry, part welcome for Zhu and also partly an exercise in reassuring everyone that Krizia’s tradition will not be compromised as a result of the move to Chinese ownership. Invitations to the exhibition’s opening included a message from Zhu outlining her vision for the brand. It read: “Krizia’s identity will not change in substance, but will simply be updated to a contemporary sensibility. “My fashion is aimed at independent women who have their own well-defined opinions and ideas, who live their lives in their own way, with curiosity and humor, and who, above all, can never be taken for granted.” Talking to AFP, Zhu added: “We want to keep the tradition of Krizia but obviously we will have more creativity, something more, something fresh.” A Dream Realized