NEW YORK — Maria D. Lopez, who was second in command to Tim Gardner, head designer at St. John, resigned on Tuesday.

She had been with St. John, the Irvine, Calif.-based firm, for 13 years.

Lopez confirmed her resignation, but declined further comment. Sources said she resigned over creative differences.

Neither Gardner nor Philip Miller, interim chief executive officer of St. John, could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Gardner succeeded Marie Gray as head designer at St. John in August, and his first collection hit stores this spring. The company has been on a mission the past 18 months to reach a younger clientele and started experimenting with new knit fabrics, different pattern specs and slimmer silhouettes. It also moved some of its production to China. Many of the newer styles met resistance from St. John’s loyal and mature customers, who claimed they don’t have the same quality and don’t fit as well as their previous St. John clothes. The firm had sales declines in the fall and spring.

Richard Cohen, former president and ceo, resigned last month and was succeeded by Miller, who admitted there were some “fit and quality” issues this spring, and that St. John is working to remedy them.

This story first appeared in the May 3, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.