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DKNY bids farewell to co-Creative Directors and CEO under new owner

By Vivian Hendriksz

Dec 2, 2016


London - Change is underfoot again at Donna Karan International.

The same day that G-III Apparel Group completed its acquisition of Donna Karan International, parent company of Donna Karan and DKNY brands, comes news that designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, creative directors of DKNY are leaving the company. In addition, chief executive officer of DKNY Caroline Brown, will also be leaving her role. All three are set to leave the company before the end of the year.

Donna Karan International (DKI) officially announced the three departures at the completion of its sale to G-III on Thursday. Earlier this year in July, LVMH took the fashion industry by surprise when it agreed to sell Donna Karan International to G-III Apparel Group for 650 million dollars. Both Chow and Maxwell’s departure, as well as Brown’s from the label have been linked to the change of ownership.

DKNY confirms exit of CEO and Creative Directors

"As Donna Karan International transitions to new ownership and therefore new directions, I have decided it is the right time to step down and explore new possibilities," said Brown in a statement. "This decision accompanies much appreciation and admiration for all of the talented teams here, our founder Donna Karan and our creative directors Dao Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. I know the company rests in good hands under the new leadership of GIII for the next stage of its development."

Brown first joined the team at DKI in January, 2015 from Carolina Herrera. Since the exit of the label’s namesake founder, Brown has been in charge of the label’s transition, appointing co-creative directors Osborne and Chow. At the moment it remains unclear what she will do next, although LVMH thanked her for her work at DKI in a letter sent to DKNY employees, reports BoF.

Chow and Osborne's exit from their role at DKNY has also been linked to their decision to focus solely on their label Public School. "Given the company sale and subsequent change in strategies, we have decided to step down and focus on our own business Public School," said Osborne and Chow in a joint statement. "It's been an unbelievable experience to work side by side with the wonderful people at DKNY, especially our amazing design team and atelier. We wish the company success in the future."

The designers presented their first collection for DKNY in September 2015. Their new look for the brand was met with mixed reactions by the industry, but Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and chief executive of LVMH assured BoF that the sale of DKI was not linked to Chow and Osborne’s failure to breathe new life into DKNY. Rather, LVMH agreed to sell DKI because it was too good of an offer to refuse.

G-III did not reveal whether they would be taking on a new creative director to oversee the Donna Karan brands. Instead, the manufacturing and distribution company shared it’s high aspirations for Donna Karan and DKNY in a separate statement. “We believe there is a need for these brands in the market and that DKNY alone has the potential to generate 1 billion dollars in annual sales,” said Morris Goldfarb, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of G-III.

“Working closely with our partners and through our strong licensing network, we are confident we can quickly bring to market a comprehensive and compelling lifestyle offering that will restore the DKI brands to prominence and excite consumers We have always sought to build our business in a way that will provide us with long-term sustainable growth,,” continued Goldfarb.

“Donna Karan is an excellent growth catalyst for our company and we are well positioned to continue to capitalize on the significant opportunities ahead."

Photo 1: Chow & Osborne, DKNY Spring-Summer 2016 / © Catwalkpictures.com
Photo 2: Chow & Osborne, courtesy of LVMH

Donna Karan
Public School