Natalie Ratabesi has been tapped as senior vice president of design at Current/Elliott, a division of The Collected Group, whose portfolio includes Joie and Equipment, WWD has learned.
Ratabesi will work closely with The Collected Group’s chief brand officer, Sarah Rutson, to oversee design direction of the denim lifestyle brand’s women’s wear and men’s wear collections, beginning with the fall 2018 season. In addition to her new role, Ratabesi will continue to design and operate her own line, TRE by Natalie Ratabesi, a designer collection that will be shipped to stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-a-porter, Forward and Harvey Nichols this month.
Ratabesi takes over the women’s design responsibilities from Michele Manz, who was vice president of design for Current/Elliott women’s. The men’s wear designer remains Kirk Von Heifner.
Rutson, former vice president of global buying at Net-a-porter.com, joined The Collected Group in July and was charged with identifying potential acquisitions to help build the group’s portfolio beyond the contemporary labels currently in its portfolio. The game plan is for The Collected Group to assemble a broader offering across designer, beauty and lifestyle categories.
“We are delighted to bring Natalie on board to head up the Current/Elliott design team. I am more than confident her immense talent, experience, foresight and ability to articulate change will be instrumental in evolving this brand in a very relevant and forward direction,” said Rutson.
Ratabesi added, “Current/Elliott was an early trailblazer in the market, combining design integrity and denim innovation with a unique point of view. With Sarah’s proven track record and vision, it’s a very exciting time to join her and The Collected Group to take the brand in a new, modern direction, while remaining true to its heritage and celebrating the company’s 10th birthday.”
A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Ratabesi worked at Christian Dior under John Galliano, as well as with Oscar de la Renta, Valentino and Gucci, before joining Ralph Lauren as senior creative director. She then held posts as creative director for Alberta Ferretti’s Philosophy line, Vince and Yeezy, before launching her own collection, TRE by Natalie Ratabesi, in Los Angeles.
Living on the West Coast, Ratabesi connected with Rutson before deciding to join The Collected Group to re-brand Current/Elliott under new leadership. She consulted for a month or two before taking on a permanent role.
“When I met Sarah in L.A., she was so excited about the idea and intoxicating to me in the way that everything sounded so appealing in what she was going to do with this brand (and other brands). It’s a very exciting moment to be here,” said Ratabesi. She said Current/Elliott has always been “a phenomenal denim brand, L.A. based, before denim was even what it is now.” She said the brand always had the best washes and facilities, upon which she plans to build “every single other layer — ready-to-wear, knits, etc.”
She said she will focus on Current/Elliott’s women’s collection and her namesake line that she just launched, and will be based at both locations. “It’s a very fresh team. All this new blood is coming in,” she said.
From its start, Current/Elliott has been inspired by vintage jeans and its American roots and rose to popularity on the strength of its faded washes and boyfriend jeans. The brand was founded in 2008 by Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, who are no longer involved, along with Serge Azria, who is chairman of the board of The Collected Group. Current/Elliott has evolved into a full range of trend-driven apparel for women and men.