Founded in Italy in 1973 by a group of designers, Byblos originated as a division of Genny SpA, taking its name from a hotel in Saint Tropez (France). Byblos soon became a magnet for young fashion designers from all over the world like Gianni Versace (from 1975 to 1976), Guy Paulin (1979-1982) and the duo Alan Cleaver and Keith Varty, who marked a turning point in the history of the company from 1981 to 1996.
These two ex students of the Dorothée Bis, Paris were just what the Italian fashion brand needed at the time: a youthful exotic touch, relaxed informality and a slight sense of humor expressed mainly in the use of colors. They soon brought the brand great success, allowing Byblos to become an independent company in the 1980’s. The target customers were twenty to thirty somethings looking for a fresh, young look, which was achieved with the embroidery and special detailing that make Byblos garments unique.
Expressing the key to the brand’s style, Varty said in an interview for the magazine Women’s Wear Daily that their product had to be “saleable, in the right fabric, with this young image and it’s got to be fresh in every season”.
Cleaver and Varty caught the eye of everyone with their use of color, inspired by paintings, landscapes, their travels or simply by fruits and vegetables. They always put a touch of bright color in their outfits which became their own unmistakable creative signature.
During their time at Byblos, Cleaver and Varty founded Byblos Uomo, Byblos USA, Options Donna (1985), Vis à vis Byblos (1986) and Options Uomo (1988). After their dismissal, announced in 1997, many other designers tried to follow in their footsteps.
Richard Tyler’s Byblos debut was with the Fall 1997 collection in Milan. Tyler’s sober and elegant lines reflected the new more sophisticated creations Byblos had moved towards, the kind of designs Cleaver and Varity hadn’t been able to keep pace with as they stuck to their own funny, exotic and colorful style.
Tyler worked for Byblos for only a year and was replaced in 1998 by John Bartlett. The American stylist immediately announce that he was going to put a new perspective on the things that had made Byblos famous all over the world. He merged the originality of Cleaver and Varty’s style, their exotic tastewhich typified their travelers’ spirit, their bright colors with a more sober line in a more modern context. Thus he refreshed the look of the Italian brand without changing it completely.
After Barlett stepped down in 2000, the company put two new designers in charge of creative direction: Martine Sibton for women and Dandy Dalal for men. Sibton’s graphic patterns got the attention of the media, who defined her style a mix of rock’n roll and romance, while Dalal stuck more closely to the initial focus of the brand: color and fun. After two years, Byblos was absorbed by the Italian company Swinger International Co, which aimed to highlight the made in Italy brand by grouping together well known names like Versus and Rocco Barocco.
Byblos’ connection with the arts is expressed in the Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amistá Located near Verona, city of love, the villa is both a luxurious hotel and a contemporary art gallery in continuous evolution. It hosts important modern shows and artists and is a real cultural and artistic melting pot. The same principle applies to Byblos Magazine which is dedicated to arts, design, luxury, fashion and new technology.
The Byblos’ empire now includes not only men’s and women’s collections, but also accessories, fragrances, eyewear collections, bags, shoes and home furnishing and accessories. The company now has stores in Europe, South Africa, the USA and Asia and the global yearly turnover is estimated to be around 100 million Euros. Byblos is now under the guidance of Mathias Facchini, Managing director of Swinger International and brother of Manuel Facchini, the new art director of Byblos. The progressive spirit of this young, talented descendent of the Facchini family is reflected in his own creations which are influenced by English culture and often experimental. Facchini has made sure that Byblos does not merely rest on its laurels but is a trailblazer for 21st century design.