By  on January 17, 2008

PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz is turning a page in its design department.

Margareta van den Bosch is being replaced by Ann-Sofie Johansson as head of design as van den Bosch moves into semiretirement after 30 years overseeing design at the Swedish fast-fashion retailer.

Van den Bosch, 65, who spearheaded successful initiatives to hire well-known outside fashion names such as Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney to do one-off collections for H&M, will continue to act as a consultant to the retailer. She will continue to oversee projects with outside designers, who have included everyone from Madonna to Viktor & Rolf and, last year, Roberto Cavalli.

"I'm very excited," said Johansson, 44, who was hired by van den Bosch in 1990 as a design assistant after three years working as a sales clerk in an H&M store.

"When I started in the design department we were maybe only 10 designers," said Johansson. "Now we are more than 100. A lot has changed."

Johansson said she wanted to make a smooth transition into her new role, effective this week. Van den Bosch was unavailable for comment.

"We've become a more international company in the last 20 years," said Johansson. "When I started, we didn't use computers. Everything was done by hand."

She continued, "My biggest challenge is to continue to excite customers and to make fashion and quality at the best possible price."

Johansson said she studied design in evening courses at the Anders Beckman's School in Stockholm. "I also studied art — I thought I wanted to be an artist for a while," she said.

The last H&M collections under van den Bosch's purview will hit stores this fall.

Johansson started as a design assistant at H&M for its young women's Divided collection. In 1994, she became designer for the Divided Black collection, before becoming a designer in the ladies' department in 2005. She said van den Bosch, who helped grow H&M's design department to its current size, had been an inspiration to her."She taught me to work in a group and how to cultivate an eye for fashion and trends," she said. "I plan to continue in her footsteps."

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