By  on January 28, 2008

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. has tapped Liz Claiborne Inc. executive Gail Onorato to be president of women's wear for American Living and Chaps.

Onorato had been chief merchandising officer of moderate business at Claiborne since 2003, and sources described her exit as a blow to the company. She joined Claiborne from Jones Apparel Group, where she was president of design and merchandising of specialty markets. At Claiborne, Onorato was in charge of merchandising for moderate partnered brands at stores such as J.C. Penney and Kohl's, which she will be catering to in her new role for the two exclusive Polo lines.

The American Living lifestyle brand, which will kick off exclusively at 575 Penney's doors next month, is expected to become the biggest launch in the retailer's history. The brand — completely created by the Polo operation — comprises women's, men's and children's wear, as well as accessories, intimate apparel and home goods, and will be merchandised across those departments at Penney's.

Chaps women's, men's, children's and home lines are sold exclusively at Kohl's.

Based in New York, Onorato reports to Kim Roy, president of Lauren women's wear.

In addition to Onorato's departure, Claiborne lost Linda Rosenzweig, who had been vice president and group director for the firm's partnered brands since November 2006, to American Eagle Outfitters, where she starts as vice president of sourcing and production of knits and sweaters next month. Based in New York, she reports to Ruth Sommers, chief sourcing and production officer of American Eagle.

Susanna Moyer, who joined Claiborne in May as vice president of design for Sigrid Olsen, will replace Onorato at Claiborne. Based in New York, Moyer will report to Karen Greenberg, president of midtier. Claiborne also hopes to promote internally for Rosenzweig's position.

"As part of our brand-centric approach, we recently appointed dedicated design directors and merchants for exclusive businesses," Claiborne said in a statement. "We believe this provides us with a better model for success. In the case of Liz & Co./J.C. Penney, we were able to reach into our deep talent pool and place industry veteran Susanna Moyer."

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