Pamela Branstetter, a longtime fashion executive and partner in public relations firm Harrington Branstetter Communications, died Tuesday at her home in Jupiter, Fla. She was 70 years old.
The cause was a heart attack, according to her former business partner, Pat Harrington.
Born in Madison, Wisc., Branstetter graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she met Harrington.
After college, where Branstetter was an English major, she received a two-year degree in fashion merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She then headed to Los Angeles where she worked at the Right Bank Clothing Co., owned by Donald Pliner, which was a hip women’s shop.
At the time, Harrington was working at the Polo shop in Beverly Hills, and through her, Branstetter met Ralph Lauren. Lauren hired her, and she held numerous positions there from 1974 to 1984, including a role in Collection sales and then women’s Collection buyer for the first 11 freestanding Polo Ralph Lauren shops in the U.S., Canada and London. She also worked closely with Lauren, the architects and contractors on merchandise allocation for men’s, women’s and all product licensees and supervised in-house merchandising, recruiting, training and operational activities of specific locations.
”Pamela was with me in those early days when we were just starting our women’s Collection business. She had such enthusiasm, great taste and a personal understanding of the woman I was designing for,” said Ralph Lauren Wednesday.
An opportunity arose to work with Karl Lagerfeld, and Branstetter made the move, becoming vice president of merchandising and marketing at Karl Lagerfeld, based in New York.
She later decided to join her friend Harrington in the public relations field and they established Harrington Branstetter Communications. They represented designers such as Richard James, Stephen Jones, Anya Hindmarch, Alistair Blair and John Galliano, as well as Malo Cashmere, Cerruti 1881, Brioni and Basco.
“I had the firm and I brought her in,” said Harrington, who was chief executive officer. “I had a good group of clients and she had these European contacts. We did really well and we opened an office in Paris for several years,” said Harrington, who still runs the firm today, which is known as Harrington Communications.
Branstetter, who served as principal and president, left the p.r. firm and joined Jimmy Choo as a manager-buyer for four years, and later Tayrn Rose International Inc. as a manager until 2008, before retiring to Florida.
“If you ask anybody, she was the nicest, kindest Midwestern girl. She was sweet and there was nothing rough around the edges,” said Harrington. “She was generous to a fault. I know it sounds like a storybook, but she really didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She loved fashion and thought she had the greatest career working with Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld. She had great friends.”
Branstetter was also involved in several AIDS and breast cancer charities.
Services will be held in Madison. An exact date hasn’t been set.