MILAN — Bally will unveil its first collection by design director Simone Bellotti on Saturday and the designer has clearly become familiar with the brand over the past few months.
Carefully measuring her words in an exclusive pre-show interview, Bellotti is the opposite of a designer diva. Understanding the power of heritage and its potential, he said he was “obsessed with the idea of diving deep into Ballythe story. I think there is still so much to say, using today’s codes.
Upon arriving at the company, he was impressed by the high quality of the products and the longevity of the designs. For example, he revisited the Glendale shoe, created a century ago, marveling at the modernity and functionality of this model. Ditto for Scribe and Plum shoes, once again saying they are “obsessed” with classic products.
“Everyone has an idea of Switzerland as something extremely specific – think watches, banks – but there are so many other layers, more irrational and more organic. “That’s why I like to add details that are out of control,” he said, pointing to a short taffeta dress from which pleats seemed to grow into floral patterns. “This short dress may be classic but has these unexpected touches and becomes new and modern.” He paired it with a sleek leather trench coat, reflecting Bally’s expertise.
On a white T-shirt there was an image of Monte Verità, or Mount Monescia, near Ascona. He was intrigued by the photos he found of the community founded there in the early 20th century, “dancing in the sun, seeking another way to express themselves, free spirits fleeing the stress of industrialization” , did he declare.
Bellotti was appointed to the role at the end of May, following the departure of Rhuigi Villaseñor, who held the title of creative director and had joined the company in January last year.
Bellotti quietly joined Bally last October after a 16-year tenure at Gucci. Previously, he held design leadership positions at Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneto and Gianfranco Ferré, with experience in both ready-to-wear and accessories.
“We share the same point of view and we are really in sync,” CEO Nicolas Girotto said of Bellotti’s choice for the role. “We took this moment to redefine Bally and realized we needed to embrace who we are, leveraging our history that spans 172 years – which has never been interrupted.”
Girotto said that with Bellotti he wanted to “go beyond the clichés associated with Switzerland. It’s really different from what you might think. I am deeply in love with this country and I see paradoxes, contrasts and duality, tradition and innovation, conservatism and strong progressivism, illustrated by the city of Zurich. One of the most important Pride the movements are in Zurich. We are very interested in this duality.
Girotto praised Bellotti’s know-how, culture and experience and the fact that “he’s not trying to make Bally another brand, he has a point of view but respects the past, and that’s a strength. We must be true to who we are, but also unexpected, classic with a touch of originality. I was tasked (in 2019) with transforming and elevating the brand and that hasn’t changed.
Bally, controlled by the JAB holding company, is in the process of “reactivating” its activities in Japan, where it already has 20 stores, Girotto said.
A new store will open in Tokyo’s Ginza district in January. “The country is benefiting from the return of tourism,” he said.
The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 40 percent of sales. The executive said Bally had reported a good start in China this year with double-digit growth compared to 2022, but admitted the market had slowed over the summer.
He described performance in the United States as “stable,” while the Middle East continues to grow. He also highlighted that India has growth potential. There are four existing stores in India and a new unit will open in Bangalore next year.
A second store will open in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at TRX Mall on November 29. Girotto highlighted that Bally’s first international store opened in Uruguay in 1870, reflecting the company’s pioneering strategy.