MARY WANG LEAVING DKNY TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF EMANUEL
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — Amid the turbulence that has been shaking Emanuel/ Emanuel Ungaro for many months, at least one sign of calm emerged Wednesday.
Almost a month after it had abruptly dismissed its two top executives, the company named a new president, Mary Wang, former president of the DKNY Women’s Division.
Wang’s appointment came as somewhat of a surprise, since she had long been rumored to be headed for Liz Claiborne, where she was expected to head that company’s new DKNY Jeans and Activewear licensed businesses.
At Emanuel, the bridge sportswear division of GFT USA Corp., she succeeds Maura deVisscher, chief executive officer, and Kim Perrone, president and chief operating officer, who were ousted early last month.
In another key Emanuel departure, as reported in these columns Monday, Esther Chen, senior vice president and design director, will be leaving June 17.
Wang, who begins June 15 and will report to Ronald Frasch, president of GFT USA Corp., has a long and varied career track.
She had been president of the DKNY Women’s division since 1995. Before that, she was divisional merchandise manager, contemporary and junior sportswear, at Bloomingdale’s. Earlier, she was vice president of merchandising at DKNY from its inception in 1989 to 1994.
Prior to joining DKNY the first time, Wang was vice president of merchandise and production at Ralph Lauren Womenswear, a division of Bidermann Industries. She began her career at Macy’s and later held various sales capacities at Bloomingdale’s.
There had been speculation for months that Wang was planning to join Liz Claiborne. Reportedly, Karan would not let her join Claiborne until it had found a successor for her. Karan has still not found anyone to succeed Wang, but nevertheless, she is on her way.
“We approached her,” Frasch told WWD on Wednesday. “We had identified her early on, and on our list of candidates, she was number one.”
Frasch said he was most impressed with Wang’s extensive background in the women’s bridge business.
“First and foremost, Mary has got a well-rounded experience level, from production to merchandising to marketing and sales. She has a very strong background, and on top of that, she’s very highly respected by her retail partners,” said Frasch.
“She’s got a good reputation for management and leadership and understands how to operate in a very difficult retail climate, which the bridge business is in right now.”
Frasch noted that Wang would “be the sole replacement” for both deVisscher and Perrone.
“I need an individual who’s realistic and strong and has a proven track record of implementation, which Mary does. She’s a perfect fit and a neat person, as well. She’ll be good for Emanuel. When Mary comes on board, we’ll establish a strategy on what we’ll do and how we’ll grow. We’ll do it in an intelligent manner that works for Emanuel and our customers.”
Wang wasn’t available for comment Wednesday, but did issue a statement that said: “Joining the Emanuel/Emanuel Ungaro division of GFT USA Corp. represents an exciting and wonderful professional opportunity for me. This is a time of change in the bridge market, and I am looking forward to helping the Emanuel business achieve its utmost potential.”
John D. Idol, president and ceo of Donna Karan, couldn’t be reached for comment on Wang’s departure, but a Karan spokeswoman said, “Mary is a highly talented executive. We wish her much success, and will be announcing a replacement shortly.”
Emanuel, which currently has a wholesale volume of $160 million, went through a difficult 1997. The bridge category, in general, took a big hit, and according to manufacturing and retail sources, Emanuel overloaded stores with merchandise and had to pay substantial markdown money.
At the time of the ouster of deVisscher and Perrone, Frasch told WWD they were dismissed due to “irreconcilable differences” between them and GFT management regarding the operation and direction of the company.