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PARIS — Fendi North America has tapped Stacy Van Praagh as its new president.

This story first appeared in the September 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Van Praagh joins the Italian fashion house, part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, from Oscar de la Renta, where she was global vice president of sales.

At Fendi, she reports to Philippe Fortunato, worldwide retail and wholesale managing director. Van Praagh succeeds Gianluca Flore, who left Fendi last January to join Bottega Veneta as U.S. regional president.

“She’s charismatic, dynamic and positive,” said Michael Burke, Fendi’s chief executive officer. “We wanted to look for the right person who could continue to develop our relationships with our wholesale partners.”

While same-store sales in America have dipped year-to-date in the wake of the economic downturn, Fendi has been on a strong growth vector in recent years, having made big strides with ready-to-wear and footwear.

Effective with this fall-winter season, Saks Fifth Avenue will showcase Fendi rtw on its revamped designer floor, and also in Atlanta, for example.

Burke said North America represents about 20 percent of Fendi’s worldwide business, spanning 14 freestanding stores as well as 21 leased accessories departments. Major wholesale accounts include Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Jeffrey.

Looking ahead, Fendi plans to open a boutique in CityCenter in Las Vegas later this year or in early 2010, and to expand its partnership with Design Miami in December.

Burke cited a recent uptick in business in America, and strong demand in particular for the brand’s Mia and Peekaboo bags. “The numbers have been getting better since April,” he said. “August was better than July.”

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