Bartlett's statement in black and white

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A NEW age is dawning for Byblos, the contemporary fashion label owned by the Italian giant Genny Spa; showing yesterday in Milan, the couturier now seems secure under the focused direction of the American designer John Bartlett.

After just three seasons at the helm, Mr Bartlett unveiled his most desirable collection to date - a blend of commercial yet of-the-moment clothes. Classic designs such as a trench coat pinched at the waist with a karate- style belt and a strapless white linen dress secured with a knotted sash were contrasted with some sharp, all-black ensembles.

Once famous for its excessive use of floral prints and embroidery, the Byblos house appears to have cleaned up its act with more geometric floral patterns or scarlet pinstripes. Donatella Girombelli, owner of Genny Spa, moved smartly, it seems, to hire Mr Bartlett, the darling of the New York fashion scene. But the designer was hardly an unknown quantity: Girombelli manufactured and distributed his line for a year before offering him the position of creative director.