By  on February 7, 2006

NEW YORK — Retail executives on Monday generally gave a thumbs up to the possibility of Vera Wang taking over the top creative role at St. John.

As reported exclusively in WWD Weekend, Wang is currently in talks with St. John to become the company's creative head, according to sources. While a deal is far from certain, sources said Wang was spotted at St. John offices in Irvine, Calif., several weeks ago.

The designer is said to be involved in a variety of discussions about deals at the high, middle and low end of the market and one source noted an agreement with St. John will come to fruition only if it's well structured and financially lucrative for Wang.

"Vera's a very talented woman," said Joseph Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue here. "She's expanded her collection to include sportswear and she'd be terrific. She's very clever. She has the ability to move [St. John] forward."

Robert Burke, former senior vice president of fashion and public relations at Bergdorf Goodman, who now heads his own fashion consultancy, said, "I've always thought Vera was incredibly talented and is really showing her range and true colors with her ready-to-wear collection. If it happens, it's a brilliant move for St. John because Vera really speaks to a modern woman."

Furthermore, Burke, who bought Wang's rtw for Bergdorf, noted, "I think Vera is a smart businesswoman and understands the importance of not losing their customer base. The biggest challenge St. John has is maintaining their customer base and then adding on, and she's seasoned enough and experienced enough to address those needs."

Nicole Fischelis, fashion director of Macy's East, said, "She can take [St. John] to a whole new level of luxury and modernity. It's another edge for her career and will bring her a lot in a different way."

Ellin Saltzman, fashion director at Bluefly, called Wang "a very ambitious lady" and said it made sense that she'd want to take this on, especially if St. John intends to name several new designers and Wang could oversee the design process.

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