ZURICH — Rolex has tapped Zenith honcho Jean-Frédéric Dufour as its new chief executive officer.
Dufour, 45, is to take over from Gian Riccardo Marini. His start date has not been set.
At the management helm of Zenith, the most thoroughbred of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s stable of watch brands, since 2009, Dufour has also worked at Chopard, Swatch Group’s Blancpain subsidiary and independent firm Ulysse Nardin.
Dufour is Rolex’s third ceo since 2008 — an extraordinary turnover for a company that has only had six bosses in its 109-year history.
Marini, already in his 60s, was enlisted as a “safe pair of hands” after the surprise departure in 2011 of Bruno Meier, the group’s former chief financial officer, previously a top executive at Deutsche Bank’s Geneva-based private banking operation.
Meier’s was a shock appointment, promoted to the ceo slot after the sudden departure in 2008 of Patrick Heiniger, son of a legendary former Rolex boss and who was in the top job for 16 years. Heiniger died last year.
“I think there is a conflict within the organization between the modernizers, who want to see faster development and more innovation, and more traditionalists, who want to see a more steady-as-she-goes approach and blame overexposure to greater China for current woes,” said Jon Cox, head of Swiss equities at broker Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich.
Geneva-based Rolex, controlled by a foundation created by its founding family, boasts annual revenues estimated at $5 billion.
Rolex watchers, sometimes compared with Kremlinologists in their meticulous analysis of every rare snippet of news, interpreted the upheaval as dissatisfaction with Rolex’s performance at a time of growing competition — notably from Swatch Group’s resurgent Omega brand and Compagnie Financière Richemont’s IWC.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast