Daniella Vitale is making her way a little farther downtown with a new gig as chief brand officer of Tiffany & Co., WWD has learned.
Until earlier this month, Vitale was chief executive officer of Barneys New York, a post she left as the company was sold to Authentic Brands Group.
Starting Dec. 1, she will oversee the luxe jeweler’s merchandising and marketing functions as it seeks to become what ceo Alessandro Bogliolo describes as “the next generation luxury jeweler.”
Vitale will report to Bogliolo in the role, which is new to Tiffany and comes shortly after the planned departure of Pamela Cloud, who is transitioning out as chief merchandising officer after 25 years with the company.
“Daniella is a seasoned business leader with deep experience in luxury, having worked with a variety of brands including Ferragamo, Armani, Gucci as well as in her most recent role as ceo of Barneys New York,” Bogliolo said in an internal memo to employees.
“Daniella is a brand leader who has been successful in leveraging her strong product sensibility and appreciation for data and analytics to evolve a business,” he said. “In her time at Barneys, Daniella was an arbiter of what’s on trend, and was successful in balancing her intuition for product and impeccable taste level with a strong focus on consumer analytics to understand and predict consumer behavior.”
She will work closely with Reed Krakoff, who directs design and leads the brand’s artistic and design vision as chief artistic officer.
Vitale started off her career in merchandising and rose to become president and ceo of the Americas at Gucci, where she worked for Mark Lee, who moved on to Barneys as ceo and recruited her shortly afterwards.
After Perry Capital bought Barneys in a 2012 debt-for-equity swap, Lee designated Vitale his successor and set in motion a roadmap to have her step up in 2017.
While Vitale did take over the corner office as planned and grabbed some attention with initiatives such as “The Drop” that attracted new shoppers, the uber-hip retailer was hit with big rent hikes and ultimately a vendor squeeze that forced it to file for bankruptcy in August.
As ceo, Vitale raced to find a buyer to keep Barneys running as a going concern. But while there was interest, particularly from trade show veteran Sam Ben-Avraham, he was unable to line up financing and branding firm ABG bought Barneys with a deal to license the name to Saks Fifth Avenue.
That’s a quick turn for Vitale who now joins another company that — while very much healthier — could also be in flux.
The jeweler — known for its statement pieces, its blue boxes, its star turn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and more — is in the process of evaluating a $120 per share, or $14.5 billion, takeover offer from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Shares of Tiffany, which saw a big boost after the LVMH offer was made public, held relatively steady Wednesday, slipping 0.1 percent to $123.33.
The stock, however, rose 3.4 percent to $127.55 following a Reuters report that LVMH had raised its offer to “closer to $130” and gained access to the company’s books to perform its due diligence ahead of a possible transaction. A Tiffany spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the report.
If a deal were reached, it would no doubt lead to many big changes at Tiffany as French luxury titan Bernard Arnault put his stamp on the American brand.
Whatever happens at Tiffany, it could hardly be more dramatic than Vitale’s run at Barneys, which had her crisscrossing the globe looking for buyers and negotiating with brands and other suppliers to keep the goods flowing and the lights on.
As she exited Barneys this month she wrote to employees: “I hope you’ll accept my profound thanks for your continued support and encouragement. I truly apologize for the difficulties we caused, but please know we did everything we could to avoid this situation and protect the Barneys brand.”
Tiffany, on the other hand, is a solid brand that doesn’t need protecting so much, but is in the process of updating its approach to help it grow with the all-important Millennial shopper, particularly in China.
At the WWD CEO Summit in October, Bogliolo said there were only a very few “true luxury brands in the world in excess of 3 billion euros, pounds, dollars of sales,” pointing to Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Gucci, Chanel, Dior, Cartier and, the lone American, Tiffany.
He stressed the importance of the brand’s roots.
“There is a big difference there and it has to do with the origin, because the origin of most European brands was owing to aristocracy, and the value was exclusivity,” Bogliolo said. “Now you look at Tiffany being born in New York in an ebullient city, since beginning our DNA was all about being inclusive and looking at the future rather than the past. So, exclusivity has always been a mantra for European brands but was never in the DNA of Tiffany.
“If you look at the world today — if you look at Millennials all over the world, if you look at China — inclusivity is much more relevant than exclusivity, so I think these roots, the DNA of our brand, is a big competitive advantage in the world nowadays,” he said.
And Vitale will be on hand to help press that advantage.