Twenty-five years ago, Maureen Chiquet had an epiphany in the middle of taking the LSATs that changed her life.
Halfway through the law school entrance exam, which Chiquet took because she didn't know what to do with her life, she decided to turn in the test after realizing that she belonged in Paris, not in court.
Chiquet, 43, is now president and chief operating officer of Chanel Inc., and in January will become global chief executive officer of Chanel.
She did not join Chanel from a luxury goods background. Chiquet was a 15-year veteran of Gap Inc., having served as president of Banana Republic, and before that, executive vice president, merchandising, planning and production of Old Navy, where she was instrumental in building the brand into a $5.5 billion force. She began her career as brand manager of L'Oréal Paris.
Chiquet brings an international perspective to her new role, as well as a fascination with French culture. She moved to Paris after joining Chanel in May 2003 and spent a year working with senior management to understand the brand and strengthen international communications, operations and strategic planning. In October 2004, she relocated to New York as president and chief operating officer, directing all U.S. operations for beauty and fragrance, fashion, watches and fine jewelry. Her new mandate as global ceo will be to guide Chanel — whose estimated volume is $3.3 billion — well into the 21st century.
Chiquet sat down with Ed Nardoza, editor in chief of WWD, to talk about her new post at Chanel, and how her experience at Gap Inc. and L'Oréal prepared her for it. WWD: You'll be running a French company based in New York, so you'll be on the road a lot. How do you manage professional and personal life when you're on the road so constantly?
Maureen Chiquet: It's a challenge, but I am really lucky. I have two people in my life who are my, I think, saviors in this respect: My husband, who is incredibly great with the kids, is able to work from home and do what he does and help support me at home, and my assistant, Kim Gold, who is incredible, keeps me organized and on track. But also I'm lucky because my family is multicultural. Antoine, my husband, is French, the kids are half-French, so when they have school vacations we can travel to France and they can come with us to different places around the world.
Steve Aoki held a presentation, a runway show and outdoor concert for his men's line Dim Mak. Here's a look from his spring 2018 collection, which was titled "Paradise Found." #wwdfashion #wwdmens (📷: George Chinsee)
"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)