By  on October 11, 2006

NEW YORK — Maureen Chiquet has been named global chief executive officer of Chanel, effective Jan. 1, 2007.

The appointment completes Chiquet's transition from the mass world of Gap, her previous company, into running one of the world's most iconic luxury brands.

The global ceo position is a new one for Chanel and Chiquet will "oversee and coordinate all of [the company's] activities worldwide," the company said. She will report directly to Chanel chairman Alain Wertheimer and will be based here, where Wertheimer has his primary office.

"We are a global business," Chiquet told WWD on Tuesday, "and New York places me in one of our largest markets to keep an eye on how the business is developing. The heart of the brand is in France, but its blood runs through the different markets of the world."

Chanel officials pointed out that the company's continued expansion and development necessitated "a position that ensures the coherence of the brand, that coordinates all of its different activities worldwide and that sponsors its ongoing growth."

In perhaps a nod to her populist past and high-end present, Chiquet, 43, typically dresses in jeans topped by a classic Chanel jacquet. She joined the company in 2003, and most recently had the title of president of Chanel Inc. in the U.S. Over the past three years, Chiquet has traveled extensively in the company's various markets and worked in the brand's different product categories, including fashion, accessories, fragrance, beauty, watches and fine jewelry.

A search is on for a successor to Chiquet as president of Chanel Inc.

Prior to Chanel, Chiquet was president of Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic division after holding several executive positions at Old Navy and the Gap. She joined Gap in 1988 as assistant merchandiser in the accessories division. She began her career at L'Oréal in Paris in 1985 as a product manager.

Chiquet acknowledged she'll be on the road much of the time as Chanel's global business continues to develop. "I'll be traveling around the world and my time will be evenly distributed between travel and time in New York," she said.

As for her initial priorities, Chiquet dismissed the high-pressured notion of growth for growth's sake, describing Chanel's position among luxury ranks, and its status as a private company, as a "wonderful advantage….The priority is not extensive growth, but sustaining the brand's growth over time while never compromising. We need to take risks and continue to stay modern, but always stay true to the core values of the brand."

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