NEW YORKSaks Fifth Avenue has appointed Roopal Patel as fashion director, becoming what officials described as “the face and voice of the Saks brand.”

This story first appeared in the September 10, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Officials said the Patel fills “an elevated position” in the fashion office that did not exist before. The last time Saks had someone filling the fashion director role was about 11 years ago.

Patel, a veteran fashion executive well known in luxury and retail circles, will report to Tracy Margolies, Saks’ chief merchant. Years ago, the two worked together at Bergdorf Goodman, a division of the Neiman Marcus Group.

“Tracy and I first started as assistants at Bergdorf Goodman, under Dawn Mello and Steve Elkin,” said Patel, referring to Bergdorf’s president and chief executive officer, respectively, at that time. “We go back quite a bit. I feel that my partnership with Tracy has come full circle.”

Patel will play a key role forecasting the trends that underpin Saks’ buying activities and will be shaping Saks’ seasonal fashion messages. She will scout new designers and collections, attend fashion shows and visit showrooms.

Officials also said Patel will form a new fashion team, and that two fashion executives, Colleen Sherin for ready-to-wear, and Rae Ann Herman, who covered accessories, will depart the company. Eric Jennings will remain the men’s fashion director and report to Patel.

She joins Saks from Roopal Patel Consulting, a creative consultancy she founded in 2012 focused on brand development and positioning, merchandising retail strategy, and trend forecasting. Before that, she was executive fashion director of Moda Operandi. Earlier, she spent more than a decade at Neiman Marcus, where she served as senior fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman as well as senior accessory market editor for Neiman Marcus.

Asked about the challenges at Saks, Patel said: “These days, it is so important to create a unique and special voice. Fashion is at a very dynamic place with up-and-coming talent that needs to be nurtured and grown. There really is an opportunity to help define fashion and luxury for the modern-day customer.”

“It’s a new structure. Saks hasn’t had a true fashion director for quite some time,” said Marc Metrick, president of Saks Fifth Avenue. “Roopal is a respected force in the industry with high energy and a deep understanding of today’s luxury fashion consumer….I am confident that her demonstrated expertise in trend direction combined with Tracy’s leadership in fashion merchandising will be invaluable as we continue to elevate the brand and position Saks as a modern and relevant fashion authority in luxury retailing.”

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