By  on September 28, 2006

Chloé has tapped a senior, but hidden, talent from Marni to succeed Phoebe Philo, WWD has learned.

According to sources, Paolo Melim Andersson will join the French fashion house later this year.

Reached late on Wednesday, a Chloé spokesman said only, "We do not comment on rumors." However, the house said recently it would make an announcement about its succession plan after its show during Paris Fashion Week.

Melim Andersson, a Swedish native who has worked at Marni for several years, will assume the design helm at one of the fastest-growing fashion firms in Europe. Despite Philo's resignation in January for personal reasons — to spend more time with her family and new baby — Chloé has continued to report solid business, relying on its in-house design team.

The fashion house's sales increased by nearly 90 percent in the April to August period, although Chloé parent Compagnie Financière Richemont recently warned that growth was slowing due to tough comparisons and that the pace for the full year probably would be lower than in the first half. Chloé's sales more than doubled in 2005.

The selection of Anderson likely is to be greeted as a logical match for Chloé — and retailers and buyers are bound to applaud the arrival of new blood. Marni, long a darling of editors and retailers, is prized for its lighthearted and feminine designs with a slight retro flavor.

In recent seasons, Marni designer Consuelo Castiglione has steered the brand in a more sophisticated direction, and it consistently has ranked among buyer favorites in Milan.

Ralph Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer of Chloé, has a track record of flushing out hidden design talents. Before joining Chloé, he headed Guy Laroche and famously recruited Alber Elbaz, now Lanvin's creative director, from the design studio of Geoffrey Beene. And when Stella McCartney exited Chloé to form a signature fashion house in partnership with Gucci Group, Toledano promoted Philo, McCartney's longtime assistant.

During Philo's maternity leave, and following her resignation, Toledano let the Chloé team pick up where she left off. And even as he quietly conducted a broad industry search, he maintained that an internal successor was possible.Toledano also has been reinforcing Chloé's design department. Last month, he tapped Emma Hill, who had been Gap Inc.'s vice president of accessories design, as an accessories consultant.

Yvan Mispelaere, a key member of the Chloé team since January 2005, is slated to take the bows for the brand at its Oct. 5 show in Paris, and then he is bowing out of the company. As reported, he is joining Frida Giannini's ready-to-wear team at Gucci in Florence.

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