WANG STAFFS UP: As part of its growth plans, Vera Wang has hired three senior executives to fill new positions. David Bell has been named director of finance and operations, Mario Grauso has been appointed director of sales, and Annette Zimand has been brought in as director of human resources.
They all report to Chet Hazzard, president and chief operating officer of the eight-year-old bridal, eveningwear and accessories firm.
Bell is a certified public accountant and former director of finance and operations for The Nine West Group/CK Calvin Klein Shoes & Bags. In addition to managing the firm’s accounting, Bell will focus on developing internal systems and structuring new licensing agreements, the company said.
Grauso, who most recently was national sales manager for Escada Couture, will oversee wholesale operations for the firm’s bridal, ready-to-wear and bridesmaids divisions, and will work on extending the name into retail operations.
Zimand, a former human resources consultant, will be “instrumental in helping to build the strong organization needed to support the company in its plans for growth and expansion,” Hazzard said.

INDIAN FASHION: The Apparel Export Promotion Council of India will host a fashion show Wednesday night at New York’s Metropolitan Club featuring the work of 10 Indian designers. The event, called Oorja — the Hindi word for energy — also will honor Mary McFadden, Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, Todd Oldham, Pamela Dennis, Badgley Mischka and Sandy Delal for their contributions to India.
Several of those designers have factories in India or manufacture there, or they are large buyers of India’s handmade beaded textiles.
The Oorja gala will be hosted by socialite Georgette Mosbacher and Naresh Chandra, India’s ambassador to the United States. Mosbacher and filmmaker Ismail Merchant will present the awards to the designers. The fashion show will be staged in London on July 13 and in Paris on July 16.

KATHRYN CONOVER RETURNS: After five years designing private label sportswear and knits for Parigi, Kathryn Conover is back with her own label for fall. Conover designed her own dress collection for Dalil Fashions for about 10 years until she left in 1992, and the division closed shortly thereafter.
Conover’s new venture is called Kathryn Conover New York, with a showroom at 525 Seventh Avenue. The line wholesales for $60 to $175 and is aimed at better specialty chains, said Denise Minassian, national sales manager. Minassian, formerly in sales at Cynthia Rowley Knitwear, declined to give a sales projection.
Like Conover’s previous signature collection, the new line focuses on evening and social occasion dresses.

VASS ONTO FURS: Designer Joan Vass has signed a licensing agreement with Mink Mart to create a line of fur outerwear for fall. “I am delighted to be designing and playing with beautiful materials while someone else does the work,” Vass said in a statement.
Mink Mart produced some fur pieces for Vass’s fall 1998 ready-to-wear show that now are being sold through Vass’s showroom, according to a spokesman for the designer. Under the newly signed license, Vass also is designing a small group of sable, mink and fox pieces that will be sold by Mink Mart for fall retail.

GASKINS’S NEW HIRE: Naji Batanian has been named director of sales and public relations, a new position, for eveningwear designer Eric Gaskins. Batanian had joined ready-to-wear designer TC Laughlin a year earlier in a temporary position with the same responsibilities.

PANACHE PINCH: Nancy Sloan, who was vice president of design and merchandising at the now-defunct XOE Leather & Outerwear Co., has joined Panache Fashions as design consultant. Sloan will create a line of rainwear and outerwear for Panache that will make its debut for spring 1999.
A collection of sandwashed silk jackets for holiday retailing will be available in the interim, said principal Herb Frichner.

ET TOO, TADASHI?: Los Angeles eveningwear designer Tadashi has launched a plus-size division for fall called Tadashi Too.
The collection includes satin faille, rayon georgette and nylon, rayon and Lycra blends, and focuses on brown and black dresses. The dresses wholesale from $90 to $169. Tadashi said he focused on details and construction to create a flattering silhouette for large-sized women.

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