COHEN RETURNING TO KARAN?

Byline: Janet Ozzard

NEW YORK — Maybe there’s still some leftover stationery. And the office won’t even have to be re-feng shui-ed.
That is, if the rumor is true: that Patti Cohen’s replacement as senior vice president of marketing and public relations will in fact be — Patti Cohen.
Karan chief executive John Idol declined to comment on the rumor Tuesday, although he said the company will make an announcement on the executive position this week. Cohen could not be reached for comment.
But since her departure in November after 15-plus years directing various incarnations of Karan’s communications department, the company has been unable to find a replacement. While Idol and executive vice president of corporate imaging and creative services Trey Laird reportedly wanted a strong investor-relations type who could talk to Wall Street and work out long-term public strategy and corporate image, Karan wanted a warm communicator who supported her New Age philosophies and her women-friendly positioning.
The three have contacted a score of fashion’s top p.r. people over the past four months, reportedly including Lynn Tesoro of Ralph Lauren; Kim Vernon, formerly at Prada, and Jason Weisenfeld of Barneys New York.
But Cohen and Karan have a long history. They’ve been friends for over 20 years. Cohen was the designer’s first employee when the company started in 1985. “She’s been my voice,” Karan said last year when Cohen announced her departure. “Whether I speak or Patti speaks, it truly comes from the same voice.”
If Cohen does return, it will be to a restructured department. Laird no longer handles marketing and communication, so the new — or former — executive will report directly to Idol. And whether Cohen would also return to her reported $500,000 annual salary could not be determined.

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