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Lagerfeld Names Mitchell VP Global PR

Godfrey Deeny
January 11th, 2008 @ 10:00 AM - Rio de Janeiro

The house of Karl Lagerfeld has named Quohnos Mitchell to be its VP Global Marketing and Communications, a newly created position, a move that would appear to indicate parent corporation Tommy Hilfiger is poised to make a major commitment to the brand.

Mitchell will be in charge of marketing activity for all Lagerfeld labeled lines including K Karl Lagerfeld and KL Collection as well as fragrance, bags, eyewear and sun-wear.

The suave and precise Mitchell, a long-time Hilfiger senior staffer, is respected for his professionalism and for being one of the nattiest dressers in fashion.

Mitchell will move to New York, the headquarters of Hilfiger but not of Lagerfeld. Shortly after acquiring Lagerfeld in January 2005 the management team that led the buyout moved the designer’s headquarters back to Paris, so Mitchell’s relocation back to Manhattan underlines that head office intends to keep a tight control on image spending.

Mitchell has been responsible for Tommy Hilfiger’s communications in Europe for the past six years.
Nonetheless, the signs are Hilfiger’s Euro born but New York based executives Fred Gehring and Michael Arts are now planning to ramp up investment in the Lagerfeld label.

Somewhat opaquely, the press release announcing the appointment read that, “Quohnos will report to Anne Marino in his position, with a dotted line to Avery Baker.” Marino is Hilfiger’s EVP-Global Licensing and Baker is Hilfiger’s VP-Global Communications.

One of the great ironies of luxury is that even though Lagerfeld built Chanel to be the number one fashion luxury brand on the planet, his own label has never been a gold mine. The Lagerfeld name and renaissance brilliance has meant there was always someone who wanted to own the Lagerfeld business. It’s pretty remarkable that Karl, the most brilliant brain and most compelling intellect in fashion, has not owned his own label for most the past three decades.

Objectively, if the management team turns Lagerfeld into a major fashion business it will be a significant managerial coup. Their business model appears likely to be that followed at Helmut Lang and Jil Sander – contained costs, strict adherence to a certain idea brand DNA and nothing too outrageous creatively. One of the great ironies of the industry is that the three great Mittel European designers – Sander, Lang and Lagerfeld – members of the fashion Pantheon, are all owned by numbers-orientated investment firms, not by their founders.

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