HOLY TO JOOP: Wolfgang Freuer is leaving his post as managing director of Joop GmbH, Hamburg. Marc Holy, son of Uwe Holy, one of Joop’s new owners, has filled the position until a new managing director is named. Neither the Holys nor Freuer could be reached for comment.

Joop GmbH, the umbrella for the Joop licensed fashion business, was bought in April from the bankrupt Wünsche AG by a group of Joop licensees. They are Uwe and Jochen Holy (through their Swiss men’s wear company, Strellson) whose other tailored clothing company, Windsor, holds the license for Joop men’s wear; Hans-Jörg Seeberger of Egana Goldpfeil, the license for leather bags, and the Coty Group, licensee under Lancaster for Joop fragrances.

Joop’s 15 license partners generated sales of about $227 million in 2002.

The designer, Wolfgang Joop, is no longer involved with the firm. He sold his remaining 5 percent in the business in 2001 and severed all ties with Joop GmbH. This month, he premiered the independent fashion collection, Wunderkind Couture, in Potsdam. — Melissa Drier

With times rocky for independent designers, creative types in Paris are looking for alternative ways to build their businesses. The latest to join this flock is Marcel Marongiu, who said he would forego the runway in October in order to funnel his energy into developing new products and communicating with customers in a more direct way. “I feel that the runway is not the place for me anymore,” he said. “Only if you’re a big name in a group or a brand new one do you get any attention. You lose when you’re in the middle.”

So Marongiu, who founded his house 13 years ago, said he would invest the money he usually spends on his catwalk presentation into a men’s line, which he plans to introduce in Paris in January. Meanwhile, he will introduce linens and beddings. He already has a license for porcelain with France’s Artria.

“Not doing shows should also help us concentrate on opening stores,” said the designer, who, four years ago, opened a 550-square-foot store, his only unit, on the Rue Saint Honore. It generates annual sales of about $800,000. “I really want to get closer to the customer now,” said Marongiu, known for his classic-with-a-twist collections. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange.Marongiu said he had sales last year of about $3.8 million. He is sold in some 120 doors, including Nordstrom in the U.S. and Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Also on Marongiu’s plate is expansion in China. He said he was working on a distribution deal that would entail opening stores in that market. — Robert Murphy

The latest accessory craze on Paris’ tony Left Bank isn’t from Hermès. This time it’s pastry king Pierre Hermé who’s got Saint Germain’s chicest women clamoring for a new bag. Launched in June, Hermé’s square, two-toned isothermal shoulder model was initially intended to keep his new ice cream collection cool on the trek home. But the bag is getting double time, with women also using it as a purse. To wit: Hermé can’t keep the $11 sack in stock. — Chantal Goupil

French catalogue company La Redoute has a new chief executive, Bertrand de Talhouet. He begins work Friday, replacing Paul Delaoutre, who had shepherded Redoute for the last four years. Talhouet reports to Thierry Falque-Pierrotin, general manager in charge of apparel and lifestyle retailing at Redoute parent Pinault-Printemps-Redoute. With PPR in various positions since 1994, Talhouet, 38, last was deputy chief executive in charge of the group’s cross-functional resources. That post has yet to be filled. — Emilie Marsh

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