By  on August 26, 2010

PARIS — Ralph Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer at Chloé since 1999, is no longer working at the French fashion firm.

According to sources, among front-runners to succeed Toledano is Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, former ceo of the London specialty store Liberty.

Sources said Toledano recently exited Chloé, sending the house into disarray roughly a month before Paris Fashion Week and at a precarious moment on the brand’s comeback trail.

Although the firm, owned by luxury giant Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, remained profitable in the fiscal year ended March 31 and has recently shown signs of traction, it has struggled to return to its glory days in the early- to mid-Naughts, when sales were practically doubling every six months.

It is understood Toledano was pushed out by his new boss, Marty Wikstrom, who in May 2009 was named ceo of Richemont’s fashion and accessories businesses, overseeing the Chloé, Azzedine Alaïa, Alfred Dunhill, Lancel and Shanghai Tang businesses. Toledano reported to Wikstrom.

Reached on Wednesday, Toledano, citing a Richemont policy, said, “We never comment on rumors.”

Wikstrom also declined all comment, and a spokesman for Richemont could not be reached for comment on a New York Post article Wednesday about Toledano’s ouster.

De la Bourdonnaye stepped down at Liberty in June after a three-year stint following the purchase of the retailer by BlueGem Capital Partners LLP. He could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Prior to Liberty, de la Bourdonnaye was president of Christian Lacroix.

Meanwhile, Toledano’s ouster comes as the affable, popular executive was under increasing pressure to reinvigorate Chloé, once touted as having billion-dollar potential after a string of hit collections under previous creative director Phoebe Philo, who left in 2006 and is now the designer at Celine.

Momentum began sputtering under Philo’s successor, designer Paulo Melim Andersson, who was recruited from Marni and pursued an edgier, offbeat course for a brand synonymous with hip-yet-girlish femininity. Hannah MacGibbon — who worked under Philo for five years — took over in 2008 and has received mixed reviews for her collections but strong editorial coverage in fall-winter fashion magazines. One source said MacGibbon was “devastated” to learn of the exit of Toledano, who worked with her closely in the face of enormous expectations from the press, retailers and Chloé’s parent company.

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