By  on July 8, 2008

NEW YORK — Valentino Fashion Group looked inside to find its new U.S. chief.

The company promoted Wendy Kahn to chief executive officer of Valentino USA and V.F.G. USA and Canada. Her mandate is to lead the growth for both Valentino and the M Missoni brand, which is licensed to V.F.G.

Kahn said her job "will continue to allow me to work closely with the design and marketing teams in Italy, as well as with the chief merchants of all the major U.S. department stores and specialty stores to continue to develop Valentino's various divisions and M Missoni."

Before joining Valentino USA as senior vice president of sales, marketing and retail in 2005, Kahn spent 10 years at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, rising to president of Celine and Pucci USA. At Valentino, she had an instrumental role, managing the heads of women's wear, accessories, men's wear and retail when the company was expanding its wholesale and retail network and building its accessories assortment, among other initiatives.

Kahn is taking over responsibilities for North America that had been handled by Graziano de Boni, Valentino SpA's former worldwide president of sales, marketing and retail, who recently left to join Prada USA as president and ceo.

Although Valentino traditionally has been known for its women's apparel, it more recently has been experiencing significant growth with accessories, particularly handbags and shoes.

Kahn said she was drawn to a brand as untarnished as Valentino, which is embarking on a new chapter in its iconic history. Her new role comes at an important moment for the fashion house. In the last year, it was acquired by private equity fund Permira, saw the retirement of founder Valentino and the formation of a creative setup that consists of Alessandra Facchinetti in charge of all women's ready-to-wear lines and couture; Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli spearheading the accessories division, and Ferruccio Pozzoni at the helm of men's wear.

Facchinetti's first couture outing last week was favorably received by the press, and parent V.F.G. plans to aggressively build the brand by doubling sales over the next five years.

"Wendy is a talented and knowledgeable executive and is an important part of our management team," said Stefano Sassi, chairman and chief executive of the fashion brand and V.F.G. ceo. "She is very committed to the growth of the Valentino and M Missoni brands in the United States."

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