By and  on December 22, 2009

MILAN — Dolce & Gabbana and Gabriella Forte are parting ways, effective Jan. 1.

Forte, who joined the fashion powerhouse in 2002 as president and licensing director of Dolce & Gabbana USA, was most recently executive adviser to the board and to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

During her tenure, Forte served in a number of roles, including sales, marketing and licenses. At the moment, there is no successor to Forte, a high-powered fashion veteran who has held key posts at Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein.

“Gabriella has been an integral part of our success. Her knowledge of the luxury goods sector and her business and marketing skills have been instrumental in growing the company,” stated Gabbana and Dolce.

For her part, Forte said she “loved every minute of my time [at the company]. I will miss being part of the organization, but I am eager to devote more time to myself and am excited to start the next chapter in my life.”

When Forte was tapped in 2002 as president of Dolce & Gabbana USA, she was in charge of championing the company’s expansion in the U.S., which was one of the first non-Italian markets to get behind the brand. At that time, Gabbana said of Forte: “We’ve always thought very highly of Gabriella Forte. Her name is a guarantee.”

Three years later, she relinquished that post in March 2005, but that fall, executives confirmed she was working with the design duo in its Milan design office as an executive consultant.

Prior to her days at Dolce & Gabbana, Forte was chief executive officer of Ibeauty.com. Before that, she spent five years at Calvin Klein Inc., where, as president and chief operating officer, she aggressively expanded Klein’s business into Europe.

Earlier in Forte’s career, she held a key role at Giorgio Armani for 15 years, helping the designer get a foothold in the American market. As Armani’s former executive vice president, she headed up the brand’s U.S. operations and served as the designer’s high-profile right-hand woman. In addition to building the U.S. business, she oversaw the designer’s marketing initiatives, retail decisions and image control.

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