NEW YORK — With speculation churning feverishly about the new men in J.Lo’s life, there might in fact be a new woman — Denise Seegal.

This story first appeared in the June 14, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The veteran of such high-profile companies as Donna Karan, Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne is said to be negotiating with Sweetface Fashions to become president and chief executive of J.Lo by Jennifer Lopez, according to sources.

Seegal could not be reached for comment Thursday, and a Sweetface spokesman declined to comment, but sources said a deal is close.

Seegal was most recently president of Liz Claiborne Inc., but for much of the past two decades, she has ranked among the most prominent executives in the apparel business, and each of her job moves through the late Nineties attracted the industry’s attention.

She started her career at Bloomingdale’s but moved over to the vendor side in 1983, when she was named executive vice president of women’s apparel at Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. In 1988, she left Polo to take the post of executive vice president of Donna Karan, where she launched the DKNY line.

In 1995, Calvin Klein hired her away from Donna Karan and charged her with turning the then-nascent CK Calvin Klein bridge line into a contender in that arena.

She stayed at CK Calvin Klein until October 1996, when she was recruited to become president of Liz Claiborne Inc., serving as the number-two executive to chairman and ceo Paul Charron, who was then in his second year on the job. She remained in a visible role at Claiborne until December 2000, when she resigned after Charron said he planned to take a greater day-to-day role in managing the apparel powerhouse’s brands.

“We have differing views on the organizational structure needed to move the company forward,” she told WWD when she resigned from Claiborne.

Since then, Seegal has had her own consulting business, working for such clients as Zac Posen.

Jennifer Lopez and Andy Hilfiger, co-president of Sweetface, revealed their plans to create Sweetface Fashion Co. and launch the J. Lo apparel brand in April 2001, after months of industry speculation. Lopez has described her fashions as targeted at “voluptuous” women, an adjective not often applied to most of today’s fashion models.

The company has also signed licenses for fragrance, swimwear and girls’ apparel. Hilfiger has also mentioned footwear and men’s apparel as potential ventures for the J. Lo label.

The brand launched for holiday 2001 retailing at Macy’s and has since expanded its distribution to about 500 specialty stores around the nation, according to Hilfiger. The company has set a first-year wholesale revenue target of $100 million.

In April, the company chose Natalie Martinez, a Miami high school student, as its newest model — her main qualification was her resemblance to Lopez. Martinez was selected in a national competition held at Macy’s stores around the country in March and April.

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