NEW YORK — Rachel Barnett, a former top executive at Oscar de la Renta, has joined Perry Ellis International as president of licensing.

Earlier this month, Barnett left de la Renta after the designer’s son-in-law, Alex Bolen, was named chief executive officer. Barnett had been with the company for nine years, most recently as senior vice president and chief operating officer.

In her new role, Barnett will oversee Perry Ellis’ roster of brands with an emphasis on expanding into new product categories and new markets. Perry Ellis, a $505.9 million operation, has more than 100 licensees worldwide including its signature label, Jantzen, Munsingwear and Cubaveera.

When she starts at Perry Ellis on Monday, Barnett will be based in its New York office and will report to George Feldenkreis, chairman and ceo.

Reached Thursday, Barnett said, “The move to PEI is a wonderful opportunity for me to leverage my strengths in licensing in domestic and international markets. The diverse portfolio of brands at PEI, which occupies all channels of distribution, presents unique prospects for licensing both here and abroad.”

In a statement, Feldenkreis said, “Rachel has an impressive reputation for creating, building and expanding a fashion brand. She comes to Perry Ellis at a time of extraordinary energy and growth. Outstanding opportunities are presenting themselves for our Hispanic, luxury and niche brands, as well as our marquee Perry Ellis label.”

A few leading designers have been recruited to work on Perry Ellis collections. William Calvert worked on Perry Ellis and Perry Ellis Portfolio outerwear, which is licensed to the Montreal-based Utex Fashion Group and debuts this fall.

Earlier this month, it was reported Perry Ellis is trying to hire designer Patrick Robinson from its better sportswear licensee, Public Clothing Co., and to launch its own women’s collection business. Robinson is said to be interested in giving the collection more of an edge. PEI’s proposition would allow him to do that, while enabling Public Clothing to keep producing a more mainstream collection in the better market with Robinson’s guidance.

Also this month, Public Clothing appointed Wendy Chivian as president of its better women’s sportswear division.

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.