Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — In another move to strengthen its fashion identity, Lerner New York has named Jacqueline Corso, a Talbots executive, as executive vice president of merchandising.
The appointment, revealed Monday, is part of an effort to recruit talent and update fashion at the $1 billion moderate-price chain. Lerner’s started down that road in July 1995, when it hired Charlotte Neuville as vice president of design.
Since then, Lerner’s has hired almost a dozen designers to work on private labels such as New York & Co. and plans to have as many as 20 over the next year.
Corso, 43, is slated to assume her new post at Lerner’s, a division of Limited Inc., on Nov. 17. She joined Talbots seven years ago, becoming vice president and general merchandising manager, women’s apparel, for the stores and the catalog.
Richard P. Crystal, president and chief executive officer of Lerner New York, has performed the chief merchant’s duties at the 752-store chain since October 1996, when Sally Pearson left as executive vice president of merchandising. Pearson had held the post for 16 months.
“Jackie Corso’s proven ability to evolve a business into a clearly identified brand is a quality we were looking for,” Crystal said in a statement. “We are very excited to have her with us at Lerner New York.”
“I think that Richard Crystal and his team, with the New York & Co. name, has begun to establish a true, moderate-price sportswear brand for the mall-based specialty store customer,” Corso said Monday.
“I don’t think there are any lifestyle brands that do for the moderate customer what Talbots and Ann Taylor do for the better-price, branded customer,” she noted. “I was drawn to the opportunity to work for Richard in further developing the New York & Co. brand, and I expect him to be a great partner in the business.”
Corso cited an “aspirational aspect” to the New York & Co. brand name, which, she said, suggests “energy and fun, and plays well across the country.”
“I see the potential for brand extensions,” she added. The full impact of her contribution, she said, will be felt beginning next summer.
Prior to joining Talbots, Corso held merchandising posts at The May Department Stores Co., Montgomery Ward and the former Gimbel’s.
“She’s a terrific merchant, with a good blend of brand and private label background,” said Robert E. Kerson, chairman of Levy, Kerson & Assoc., executive search consultants specializing in recruiting retail and fashion talent. “It’s a loss for Talbots and a smart move for Lerner’s.”

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