MARILYN KAWAKAMI REJOINING ANNE KLEIN AS HEAD OF BRIDGE

Byline: Alice Welsh

NEW YORK--Marilyn Kawakami, who started the bridge business at Anne Klein & Co., is returning as president of its bridge lines, Anne Klein II and A Line.
Kawakami was with the company from 1981 to 1987 as president of Anne Klein II. She left to become president and chief executive officer of the Warnaco women's division. A Line, a more casual division, started in 1991.
Most recently, Kawakami was with GFT at the company's headquarters in Turin, Italy, working on all the GFT collections, including the bridge lines Sahza, Si You and Essence. Her responsibilities included opening and operating a fashion marketing and merchandising office for GFT in Italy.
Kawakami noted that she was originally hired by GFT in 1990 to expand the Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni White Label by integrating American marketing ideas.
Andrew Rosen, president of Anne Klein & Co., has been directly responsible for the Anne Klein II and A Line divisions. Kawakami, who starts at the company Nov. 7, will report to Rosen.
In a joint interview Monday with Rosen in his office here, Kawakami noted that she had been in discussions with Rosen about returning to Anne Klein since April.
Rosen, who joined Anne Klein in 1989, added, "Even though I didn't work with Marilyn when she was at Anne Klein, everyone had the highest regard and respect for her, so I stayed in touch with her after she moved to Italy.
"In the last couple of years, we have restructured the company a lot, including bringing in Richard Tyler to design the collection, and I had wanted to hire someone to run A Line and Anne Klein II. But I wanted the perfect fit, someone to take advantage of what we have been doing at Anne Klein and to help pull it all together.
"Marilyn was the ideal choice because she's been to Europe and gained that experience, so now she has tremendous domestic and worldwide expertise."
Kawakami said she was eager to get back to New York and excited about returning to Anne Klein.
"Being in Europe was a great experience, but like anything else, you pay for it personally, with family, friends and loved ones. It was time to come home," she said. "It was a very important process for me, the experience in Italy. I focused on what we do in this country and then adapted it to other countries.
"Our ways of doing business are different, but in terms of fashion, we are a global market. What's valid here is valid elsewhere. What is right there is right here."
Rosen also indicated that the appointment of Kawakami will not mean immediate dramatic changes for the two divisions.
"Our growth is a process of evolution, not revolution," he said.
Rosen said A Line will have sales of approximately $30 million this year, while Anne Klein II will do over $100 million.

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