By  on October 12, 2011

NEW YORK — Donna Karan International, which is taking back the DKNY Jeans and DKNY Active licenses from Liz Claiborne Inc., named Christa Michalaros president of DKNY Jeans, effective Nov. 7.

Currently the group president of Perry Ellis International Womenswear in charge of the Rafaella, C&C and Laundry brands, Michalaros was named to the position last January after PEI acquired Rafaella Apparel Group, where she was chief executive officer since 2006. Prior to that, Michalaros was president of the Tommy Hilfiger women’s wear division and, before, worked her way through the ranks of Liz Claiborne to president of the company’s casual group, where she was responsible for overseeing nearly $1 billion in business.

“We have collectively been talking to Christa about opportunities for the last two years,” said Mark Weber, ceo of LVMH Inc. in North America and chairman and ceo of DKI. “This is the first one with the size, scope and opportunity that made sense for her.”

DKI is reclaiming the licenses for U.S., Canada and Mexico from LCI. “We think that under our leadership, and with the injection of capital and a fresh new look, business should grow dramatically in the next few years,” Weber said. “There are opportunities for DKNY in the premium jeans business, which we are now looking forward to pursuing. I believe the potential is far greater in jeans than where the brand already is. It could double in the next few years.”

DKNY Jeans will be positioned as a stand-alone division within DKI, and Michalaros will report to Weber. The existing DKNY Jeans staff will be integrated into DKI. Debbie Elmore, who served as president of DKNY Jeans under LCI, will stay with the brand, though her new role is still being finalized.

“DKNY Jeans has such amazing brand recognition and it reaches so many women at many different levels,” Michalaros said. “I believe there is tremendous opportunity by bringing the brand back in-house.”

Meanwhile, at Perry Ellis, Michalaros will be succeeded by Lana Todorovich, president of swim, women’s activewear and shapewear, as interim head of PEI Womenswear until a successor is named.

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