Catherine Bennett, who led IMG’s fashion events business for the last five years, will be leaving the company to relocate to Washington, D.C.
As part of the transition, Leslie Russo, formerly senior vice president of fashions sales and marketing, has been promoted to executive vice president, fashion partnerships and marketing. She will play a key leadership role on Bart’s executive team, focused on securing and developing new and expanded commercial partners, branded content offerings and marketing activations that continue to elevate IMG’s global fashion events portfolio. In addition, she and Bart will work on the business and creative oversight of Made.
IMG’s fashion events group owns, operates and/or commercially represents fashion properties such as New York Fashion Week: The Shows, Made, London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo, IMG Fashion Camp and the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference.
Lens manages multifaceted image makers across art, film and fashion, and M2M is a premium fashion video network that features fashion films, runway shows and original series and documentaries that highlight the people, issues, trends and events that define the fashion industry. Bart will oversee this business alongside Mike Antinoro, senior vice president at IMG Original Content.
“Ivan has proven himself time and again a truly creative and collaborative leader, and these businesses could not be in better hands moving forward,” said Mark Shapiro, copresident of WME and IMG. He said he looks forward to witnessing more of his creativity at work.
Bart joined IMG Models as creative director in 1994 and rose through the ranks to become president following WME’s acquisition of IMG in 2014. During his tenure, IMG Models has expanded to become an international leader in talent discovery and model management, widely recognized for its high-profile, diverse client roster. With offices in New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan and Sydney, IMG Models’ roster includes Alek Wek, Ashley Graham, Bella Hadid, Cameron Dallas, Cara Delevingne, Carolyn Murphy, Chrissy Teigen, Garrett Neff, Gigi Hadid, Gisele Bündchen, Halima Aden, Joan Smalls, Kaia Gerber, Karen Elson, Karlie Kloss, Kate Moss, Lauren Hutton, Lily Aldridge, Maria Borges, Miranda Kerr, Miles McMillan, Paloma Elsesser, Stephanie Seymour, Taylor Hill and Xiao Wen Ju.
“I’m honored and excited for this new opportunity,” said Bart. “The fashion landscape is evolving, and in the same way we’ve advanced the conversation on race, size, age and gender inclusivity at IMG Models, I see many opportunities to elevate these conversations and champion new formats across events and brand partnerships that will benefit the entire fashion industry.”
Discussing his new role, Bart told WWD, “I think the great thing about our fashion events is it’s been always an opportunity for emerging designers and established designers to show in a very unified venue that’s excellently produced. I’ve been personally very impressed with the team. I don’t know if everyone appreciates making the trains run on time and the lights that work, and everything goes accordingly well. Having worked in the industry since 1986, I’ve watched the evolution of fashion weeks, and there was a need at one point to take the onus off the designer and give the designer the experience where they just had to walk in and create their vision.”
He said going forward, he sees a lot of opportunity. “I don’t know what the future of fashion week is going to be, and I don’t think anybody does. And everybody’s questioning whether we’re going to continue to have fashion shows, are we going to continue to have women walk down the runway? My belief is that the experience alone for editors and for people who communicate fashion want that live experience,” said Bart.
“I do believe in the future of fashion week, but there could be different ideas and ways on how to communicate fashion. Maybe it will be a runway show, and maybe it will be other activations,” he said.
He noted in the last few years, IMG has done a very good job in other offerings such as activations, communications and events. For example, he said, last season they sponsored a conversation on inclusivity and had speakers such as Ashley Graham. He said the main question is, “Are we as an industry communicating to everyone? I think that’s an opportunity for every designer, for everyone in the fashion industry to reach a global community and understand what their needs are and how they’d like to present themselves.”
With IMG Models, he said, he’s taken on new talent that represent different forms of beauty, whether it’s size, age, race or gender. “By getting behind talent that hitting different communities, it shows there’s an opportunity. I’m excited about the opportunity to take on more responsibility in the company, the fashion vertical, and to be able to help guide and lead the very talented people who are already there.”
He said IMG is just coming off Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney, which has an excellent venue. “I wish there was a venue like that in New York, but we’re very excited about Spring [Studios].”
Asked whether the Shed will be a possible venue going forward, Bart said, “Being in the new role, I get to explore all the venues that are happening.”
As for how he’ll work with the CFDA, Bart said, “I’ve always had a very close relationship with Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb and I respect everything that they do. I’m excited to partner with them and figure out New York Fashion Week goes. It’s filled with many different parts.”