Chinese designer Zhu charms Milan fashion world with plans for Krizia

Chinese designer Zhu charms Milan fashion world with plans for Krizia

Chinese owner of Krizia vows to maintain firm’s made-in-Italy heritage but with her own style
Agence France-Presse in 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 in Milan during the spring/summer 2015 womenswear shows.

All being well, she will be back in the city in five months to present a debut collection of womenswear for the autumn/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.

WATCH: Chinese entrepreneur and designer Zhu Chongyun charms Milan with Italian vision of Krizia future

Zhu, who is based in Shenzhen, 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.”

Designer Mariuccia Mandelli (front right) sold the brand to Zhu due to financial troubles and her husband’s health problems. Photo: Reuters

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 humour, and who, above all, can never be taken for granted.”

A model presents a creation by Krizia during a previous Milan Fashion Week show. Photo: EPA

Zhu added: “We want to keep the tradition of Krizia but obviously we will have more creativity, something more, something fresh.”

As it is a private company, it is unclear how much financial trouble Krizia was in before Zhu stepped in, but it is understood the sale was concluded for about US$35 million, a figure that will look a snip if the company, which has a claim to having invented hot pants, can be restored to its former glory.

A stock market listing is being planned and a futuristic new headquarters is under construction in Shenzhen, from where Zhu will shuttle back and forth to Milan in a two-continent lifestyle akin to that of China’s best-known international designer, Shanghai-based Uma Wang.

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Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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