Iana dos Reis Nunes, a proven public relations executive who worked with several fashion designers and luxury houses, died at her home in Brooklyn.
The 46-year-old died of colon cancer Sunday, according to her friend and former coworker Ruthie Friedlander, who spoke on behalf of dos Reis Nunes’ family.
Earlier last year dos Reis Nunes quietly exited her role as chief global communications officer at Marc Jacobs International and started her own consulting business a few months later. She worked for the designer for a little over three years. The switch allowed for more time to work on The House in the Clouds, a children’s clothing line with a French sensibility that she started in her Brooklyn home five years ago. In spring 2018, dos Reis Nunes combined her fashion and luxury goods experience with a wish to help others by signing on as a strategic communications adviser to RxArt, a nonprofit organization that brings visual art into health-care facilities.
During her career she worked for designers and luxury houses including Marc Jacobs, Coach, The Row, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, among other companies. The French-born dos Reis Nunes ventured into fashion after spending a year working in Harrisburg, Pa., as an au pair. Like that first job in the U.S., her education was also diverse, having first studied literature and math at Lycée de Cahors for a spell and then enrolled at La Sorbonne as a first-year law student. She started out in fashion at the Paris-based public relations agency Beatrice Keller.
Having been friends with dos Reis Nunes for more than 20 years, stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele said, “Iana was a pro, a real pro. She was fun, she was loyal, she was beautiful, she was smart. She never complained. Everything was always positive. She was a real worker. Everybody loved Iana.”
Coach’s executive creative director Stuart Vevers said in a statement that he was saddened to hear of her passing. “She was a wonderful person who approached everything and everyone with positivity and kindness,” he said.
Friedlander recalled Monday how dos Reis Nunes was her first boss at Chanel, and later she joined her at The Row. She described the moment she knew during an interview with dos Reis Nunes that she would be more than a boss. “I was just out of college and I was so nervous. She was asking me what my experience was, and at the end of it she said, ‘So what do you like to do outside of all this?’ I had no idea how to answer that question. I thought that I was supposed to be all fashion, all buttoned-up. She was like, ‘Yeah, we’re all people outside of this. Everyone should have interests and hobbies. I don’t want to work with people who don’t have interests outside of fashion.’” Friedlander said. “Every single time I interview people now I always ask that question. It’s so telling when someone asks that. They really care deeply about who you are as a person, not just what your impact in the workplace is going to have.”
Cerf de Dudzeele added: “The other things about Iana was she was the ultimate connector. There is a whole group of us who probably all feel that she was our mentor. She really invested a lot of time into people who worked with her and for her.”
A spokesman for Marc Jacobs said in a statement, “We are saddened to hear the news of her passing and thinking of Iana’s family at this time.”
Dos Reis Nunes is survived by her husband Brendan Higgins, her father Geraldo, her brother Julien and her three daughters — Iman, Neel and Maeve. Plans for a service had not yet been finalized, according to Friedlander.