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ROME -- Italian fashion giant Gucci said it has formed a joint venture with U.K. designer Stella McCartney that will develop and market a new fashion line for women.

The joint venture is part of an important transformation for Gucci, which is the world's No. 3 luxury goods company. Earlier this year, Alexander McQueen, the U.K.'s best-known designer, also agreed to join Gucci, which is aiming to grow more through the use of several specialized brands, than via growth of the core Gucci label.

The 29-year-old McCartney, who is the daughter of former Beatles star Paul McCartney, had been designing for Financiere Richemont's Chloe fashion label since 1997.

A spokesman for Gucci says that it was too early to know what the marketing plans for the new McCartney label would be, but he said they would be substantial.

"Certainly there will be important marketing and advertising efforts in all the markets where the brand will be sold," the spokesman said. "We don't know yet what it will be, but there will be a big push to make the brand known."

The Gucci spokesman wouldn't speculate if the new brand would use one of Gucci's current advertising and public relations firms or if it would hold a special pitch.

In a statement, the company says it will move rapidly to develop the brand, which the Italian media reports could be on store shelves in Western Europe, North America andJapan by year's end. -- Eric J. Lyman

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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