NEW YORK — Barbara Cirkva, division president of fashion for Chanel in the U.S., will step down from her role at the French luxury house in March 2016.

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

Cirkva is a 28-year veteran of Chanel and considered among the luxury industry’s most highly regarded executives. She’s been a key player in maintaining the enduring appeal of the brand and spreading its popularity. The company has commenced a search for a successor.

Cirkva joined Chanel in 1987 after a career at Bloomingdale’s, where she was a top merchant.

She started at Chanel when its fashion business in the U.S. was in its infancy and was instrumental in dramatically growing it. In addition, Cirkva oversaw the launch and stewardship of Chanel’s watch and fine jewelry business in the U.S.

“Barbara’s leadership and influence at Chanel and in the industry are recognized and respected globally,” said John Galantic, president and chief operating officer at Chanel Inc. “During her tenure at Chanel, she has continually elevated the image of the brand while balancing the interest of the business. Barbara’s leadership, deep understanding of luxury and passion for the brand are truly inspiring and will be missed.”

“My career at Chanel has been one of the most exceptional experiences of my professional and personal life. I want to thank all of the wonderful partners I have had over the years in the U.S., Paris and globally, and I look forward to working with them throughout the year,” Cirkva said.

In addition to working at Chanel, she’s the co-owner of Fleur, a garden antiques shop in Mount Kisco, N.Y., along with her husband, John Schumacher, who ran the former Bonwit Teller and I. Magnin chains.