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Ben Malka, former president of BCBG Max Azria Group, has joined Halston as chairman and chief executive officer.
This story first appeared in the July 26, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The appointment confirms a report in WWD July 18.
“I am very excited to join Halston. This is a wonderful opportunity and I look forward to defining a new era for this iconic brand,” said Malka. He will join the Halston board and become a substantial stakeholder in the company. His arrival also marks new funding for Halston in excess of $20 million and positions the company for growth, added a Halston spokeswoman.
A 16-year veteran of BCBG, Malka had been president since 2001. Before that, he was president of BCBG’s footwear and accessories division. He did a stint at medical school before pursuing a fashion and business career. Malka is reportedly well connected in the investment banking world and is considered a solid operator and strategist.
“He [Malka] did a fantastic job at BCBG. I think he ran every aspect of the business, and certainly the relationship with Bloomingdale’s,” said Frank Doroff, vice chairman of Bloomingdale’s. “I look forward to working with him at Halston. If anyone could do it [turn the business around], Ben could do it,” he said. Doroff noted that Bloomingdale’s intends to carry the Halston Heritage line this fall for the first time.
A BCBG spokeswoman said a successor to Malka has yet to be named.
As reported, Halston parent Hilco Consumer Capital LLC bought out its two high-profile executives, Harvey Weinstein and Sarah Jessica Parker, who served as president and chief creative officer and steered the secondary Heritage collection. Both Weinstein, ceo of the Weinstein Co., and Parker had equity stakes in the Halston business, which now is believed to be owned entirely by Hilco and Malka.
With rumors of clashes between Halston board members, industry sources said Hilco is in need of a strong leader to undo the damage of the past four years and to start rebuilding the brand. Malka comes to Halston with a significant background in the contemporary category, as well as strong industry ties, which will be instrumental in building Heritage.
Hilco didn’t renew its contract with London-based Marios Schwab, who designed the Halston designer collection, as reported. The company plans to deliver the fall Halston collection to stores, but it hasn’t been decided whether it will produce a spring line. Those decisions will be made by Malka, who will have complete operational control of the entire Halston business, the company’s spokeswoman said.
Malka might already have an idea on who to tap for his creative director. Marie Mazelis, creative director of the Hervé Léger and Max Azria lines, is also exiting BCBG, where she has worked for more than a decade and has been reporting to chief creative officer Lubov Azria. Sources said she could be headed to Halston. She didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
As it has attempted to revive its fortunes, the Halston brand has been plagued by high turnover. Numerous designers, such as Randolph Duke, Kevan Hall, Craig Natiello, Piyawat Pattanapuckdee, Bradley Bayou, Marco Zanini and now Schwab, have failed to bring about a revival.