NEW YORK — One day after showing his first and only Anne Klein spring collection, Michael Smaldone has opted to return to retailing as senior vice president of design for Ann Taylor Stores Corp.’s Ann Taylor Stores division.
Smaldone will join the firm on Sept. 19. He succeeds Mark Eisen who the company said resigned for personal reasons.
Smaldone will report to Jerome Jessup, senior executive vice president for merchandising and design at the AT division.
“We are extremely pleased to bring Michael Smaldone to the AT team,” Jessup said in a statement. “With his experience in positioning brands for growth and developing creative teams he will provide strong leadership to the AT team.”
Smaldone joined Anne Klein at the end of 2002 as a vice president to direct the AK Anne Klein better-priced collection and was promoted in April to vice president and chief design officer when Charles Nolan departed to pursue a career in politics. His debut runway collection for Anne Klein Tuesday morning featured low-cut dresses with corset belts, sharp-fitting suits and even put forth the Ann Klein bra, in many cases to the dismay of the fashion journalists.
Previous to his stint at AK, Smaldone designed for Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic division and Tahari. Jessup, like Smaldone, is a Gap Inc. veteran.
Calls to AT were not returned.
Dana Telsey, a retail analyst with Bear Stearns, said she believed Smaldone might be a better fit at AT because of his corporate background. She said Eisen, as a designer, may have had a more difficult transition.
“Now Jessup brings his own team and the sensibilities brought to the merchandise, including classic, career and good fabrication, will be carried on through Jessup and Smaldone,” Telsey said.