NEW YORK — Melissa Beste is joining Akris as chief executive officer for the U.S. division of the St. Gallen, Switzerland-based company.

This story first appeared in the November 5, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Beste, who starts Nov. 16, succeeds Caroline Brown, who is leaving the company to join J. Christopher Capital, a new retail venture by Christopher Burch, as president and ceo.

Most recently, Beste was president of the U.S. division of Alexander McQueen. She joined McQueen in 2006. Before that, she was at Saks Fifth Avenue, where she was a senior buyer for the designer couture category, including the Akris collection.

Beste will oversee the company’s business in North America, where Akris operates freestanding stores in New York and Boston, and is sold through a network of upscale specialty stores including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Connecticut-based Mitchells of Westport and Richards of Greenwich, as well as Holt Renfrew in Canada.

The company recently opened shop-in-shop concepts at both Bergdorf’s and Saks, and Beste joins as Akris prepares to launch its first handbag collection this spring. The collection of bags made with horsehair textiles was unveiled during the spring runway show in Paris last month. The bag collection will launch at Bergdorf’s, as well as select Neiman’s and Saks stores in February.

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