Established in December 2004, the Luxury Education Foundation was incorporated in 1988. LEF is a public not-for-profit organization that focuses on educational programs for undergraduate and graduate students in Design and Business related to the creation and marketing of luxury goods. LEF programs provide students with various platforms to engage with senior executives in leading luxury firms to understand and appreciate the unique properties of this industry.
LEF is proud to encourage young talent and creativity by sponsoring the interdisciplinary course “Design and Marketing of Luxury Products” with students and faculty from Columbia Business School and Parsons the New School for Design; awarding scholarships for Design and Business students; organizing educational events, such as the Annual Luxury Round Table; and supporting student-run organizations at Columbia Business School. For more information, please see Programs.
The Luxury Education Foundation is a public not-for-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.
LEF Board Members
In addition to a Board of Directors, the LEF Advisory Board is comprised of a select group of the world’s leading luxury firms, dedicated to providing Business and Design students with unique opportunities to gain first-hand experience and knowledge of the luxury industry. The LEF Advisory Board members commit financial support, time, resources, and expertise to ensure the success of the foundation’s programs, and help to promote scholarship about the luxury industry. For more information, please contact us.
Board of Directors
Founding Members Emeritus
Carolina Herrera (Francois Kress)
Cartier (Mercedes Abramo)
Chanel (Barbara Cirkva)
Christian Dior (Pamela Baxter)
President & CEO
Henri Barguirdjian is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Graff Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries since 2000. The London-based House of Graff opened its U.S. flagship store on Madison Avenue in April of 2001. Since then the U.S. operation has expanded with the opening of new stores in Palm Beach, Chicago, Las Vegas and more recently in Bal Harbour as well as with nine boutiques at Saks Fifth Avenue.Henri’s extensive background in the luxury jewelry business includes his assignment as President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels in New York from 1993 to 2000. Prior to joining VC&A, Henri was General Manager of Chaumet in Paris from 1991 to 1993 and President of the Retail Division of Harry Winston in New York from 1986 to 1991.
Robert B. Chavez
President and CEO
Hermès of Paris, Inc.
Robert B. Chavez is the President and CEO of Hermès of Paris, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Hermès International. He has held this position since August of 2000. Chavez oversees all Retail and Wholesale as well as all Communications, Finance and Operations of the Company.Prior to joining Hermès, Chavez was President of Etienne Aigner Inc. He started his career in retail at Bloomingdale’s New York City.Chavez is a Romance Language and Literature Major and a graduate of Princeton University.
Barbara Cirkva Schumacher
Division President, Fashion, Watches & Fine Jewelry
Barbara Cirkva Schumacher joined CHANEL Inc. in 1986 and has continued to increase the U.S. fashion business in the competitive luxury goods market.As Division President – Fashion, Watches & Fine Jewelry, Barbara is responsible for both the Retail Division as well as the Wholesale Division, Sales, Marketing, Advertising, Real Estate and Construction in the United States and contributes to many worldwide projects.The Fashion Division consists of Ready-to Wear, Accessories, Shoes, Watches and Fine Jewelry divisions, with over 90 points of sale in fine specialty and department stores. The retail division for CHANEL consists of 23 free standing fashion boutiques in the U.S., Hawaii, Guam and Saipan.
Barbara Cirkva Schumacher is a member of the CHANEL Inc. Operating Committee, the International Fashion, Watches & Fine Jewelry Committees and serves on a multitude of international projects. Additionally, she serves as Chairman for the Luxury Education Foundation, which supports the only interdisciplinary course in Luxury Marketing between Columbia Business School & Parson’s School of Design. Barbara also serves on the working committee of the New York City Ballet, a committee headed by Nina Griscom.
Ms. Cirkva was born in Chicago and lived both in Chicago and Southern California. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Prior to joining CHANEL, Barbara Cirkva Schumacher served as Operating Vice-President & Divisional Merchandise Manager for designer apparel & accessories at Bloomingdale’s.
Barbara is married to John Schumacher, former chairman of Bonwit Teller and former president of I. Magnin in California. They reside in New York City and Westchester County, New York.
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Mr. Kress has held multiple leadership positions in the luxury industry over the past 20 years, most recently as Global President for Stuart Weitzman LLC, a global footwear company recently acquired by Coach. Mr.Kress held numerous positions within LVMH (Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton), the world leader in luxury, as President of Louis Vuitton Thailand from 1998 to 2000; CEO of LVMH Fashion Group Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) from 2000 to 2002, and President of Fendi North America from 2002 to 2004. He then joined the Italian family-owned jewelry company Bulgari as CEO for North and South America from 2004 to 2009, after which he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Prada and Miu Miu USA from 2010 to 2012, when he joined The Row, the American luxury brand founded by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen as Global President & COO. Mr. Kress serves as a Board Member of the non-for-profit Luxury Education Foundation in New York and of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, a public company that focuses on medical aesthetics products. He received a Master of Science from the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, and degrees in International Business and Civil Engineering from the Corps des Ponts et Chaussees in Paris, France.
Ketty Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge
President, KM & Co.
Adjunct Professor, Marketing
President, The Luxury
Ketty Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge runs a firm specializing in Luxury Innovation, KM&Co., assisting luxury firms and start ups in branding, financing and long term strategies. She is also the co-founder and board member of a few start-ups, including Savelli, a Board Member of the luxury brand J. Mendel, a Senior Advisor to The Gores Group, and sits on the Advisory Board of the LSG Holdings.Ketty Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge joined the Columbia Business School faculty in 2004 and teaches the Master Class “Marketing of Luxury Products”. In May 2012 she was awarded the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard. She is also a Visiting Professor at IE Business School in Madrid (Spain) and was awarded the IE Business School Recononcimiento a la Excelencia Docente in 2012.In fall 2013, her first book, The Luxury Alchemist, was published by Assouline and went on to receive the International Award at the 18th annual literary festival, La Forêt des Livres in the Loire Valley, France.
Ketty Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge was born in Italy and grew up in Switzerland and France. Her broad background includes a degree in Business Administration from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and a Masters Degree in Law from the Sorbonne. In the US, she completed course work for a Master’s degree in Italian Renaissance Art at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.
In 1988, Mrs. Maisonrouge founded Ketty Maisonrouge & Company, Inc (KM & Co.), a marketing and communications firm specializing in the areas of fine arts and luxury goods. Her extensive client list included Chaumet, Christofle, Damiani, Trussardi, Puiforcat, the Italian Trade Office, Hermès, Escada, Marina B and La Biennale des Antiquaires.
Concurrent to her duties at KM&Co., Ms. Maisonrouge served as the permanent US Representative of the Comité Colbert, an association of over 70 French Luxury companies, from 1988 until the organization closed its US representative office in December 2003.
In addition to being a member of the board of Action Against Hunger, Kips Bay Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and National Dance Institute, Ms. Maisonrouge is President and co-Founder of the Luxury Education Foundation.
The French Government awarded her the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Mérite in 2001, and the title of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2009. She lives in New York with her husband, and their two sons. www.kmandcoinc.com www.kettymaisonrouge.com www.luxuryeducationfoundation.org
Professor Safwan M. Masri
Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development
Director, Columbia Global Centers | Middle East firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Safwan M. Masri is Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University. In this role, he oversees a network of eight centers worldwide, located in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. The Centers promote and facilitate the engagement of faculty, students, and alumni with the world, address global challenges, and advance knowledge and its exchange. He has been Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Middle East since its founding in 2009.His role includes extending Columbia’s reach to match the pressing demands of our global society. As an ambassador for Columbia globally, Professor Masri cultivates relationships with Columbia alumni abroad and with world leaders, essential to the continued development of a global Columbia. Professor Masri joined the faculty of the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division of Columbia Business School in 1988 and was appointed Vice Dean in 1993, a position he held for thirteen years.He was Visiting Professor at INSEAD in 1990 and 1991, and has also held teaching positions at Stanford University and Santa Clara University. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University in 1982; his Master of Science in Industrial Engineering also from Purdue in 1984; and his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management from Stanford University in 1988. Professor Masri was honored with the Singhvi Professor of the Year for Scholarship in the Classroom Award in 1990, the Robert W. Lear Service Award in 1998, and the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence in a Core Course in 2000. He has also been honored with the 2003 American Service Award from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Professor Masri is Founding Chairman Emeritus of King’s Academy and of the Queen Rania Teacher Academy, Trustee of International College, Trustee of the National Children’s Museum in Jordan, Director of Endeavor Jordan, Director of the Luxury Education Foundation, and member of the advisory boards of the School of Business and the Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo. He has also served as Advisor to Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, and as director of the Arab Bankers Association of North America, Aramex, and the Nuqul Group.
Professor Masri’s scholarly interests include education reform in the Middle East, and contemporary Arab geopolitics and society. His area of academic expertise has been in operations management, with a focus on supply chain management.
He has consulted and written on change management and operational efficiency in banking and finance. A few of his clients include: Merrill Lynch, Salomon Brothers, Deutsche Bank, Bankers Trust, and JP Morgan.
Partner, Fireman Capital Partners
Marla is a Partner at Fireman Capital Partners having joined the firm in 2009. She is a member of the Firm’s Investment Committee and also works as strategic advisor to the portfolio companies.Prior to joining FCP and since 2006 Marla was the CEO and Founder of Sabo Strategic Partners, a firm providing advisory work pre- and post- transaction in the private equity industry. Marla had previously held the position of President of Christian Dior Americas from 2001-2006 where she was responsible for the growth strategy and build of the network as it is known today, placing it firmly as one of the top luxury brands in the world. Before joining Dior she held various senior positions in the luxury industry, including Senior VP positions at Hermes Americas and at Saks Fifth Avenue. Her New York City career began as a Buyer for Bergdorf Goodman.Marla holds a BSEd in French/Secondary Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and has completed Continuing Masters Studies at the Universite de la Sorbonne, Paris. She currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Skip Hop and is also a Board member of Salt Lake Brewing Company. Active in not-for-profit, she is Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and is Board Emeritus of the Foundation for IUP which directs the University’s endowment strategies. She has also raised significant funding for cancer research.
Ketty Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge
Born in Germany, Daniel Barth is a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po). After serving as director of international marketing for Lacoste in Germany and France, he was promoted to President of Lacoste USA in 1998. Mr. Barth became the President & CEO of Lalique North America in January 2003. In January 2006, Daniel became the Managing Director at Faber-Castell AG in Germany, particularly in charge of their premium business.
Charles Henri Cousin
Ketty Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge
Charles Henri Cousin began his career as a trader on the Paris International Financial Futures Market (Matif) after studying Economics and Management. His strong financial background paved the way to a successful career in the distribution of luxury goods.For five years Mr. Cousin worked as Caribbean Sales Manager for P.A. Pommares Agencies S.A. in Barbados, West Indies. He was responsible for the distribution of various brands in a broad range of luxury industries including jewelry and watches, leather accessories and tabletop (crystal, silverware, linen and porcelain).Mr. Cousin also acted as Honorary Consul General of Switzerland in Barbados and was the Official Delegate of Switzerland for the 1994 United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. He received an exequatur from HRM Elizabeth II.
Mr. Cousin came to America in 1995. That same year, he accepted a position as Executive Vice President and member of the board of directors of Daum, Inc. in New York. Daum is one of the most prestigious fine crystal makers in the world.
In 2002, Mr. Cousin joins Bernardaud, the Limoges porcelain manufacturer as President of their US subsidiary. The largest porcelain maker in France, Bernardaud is selling to the finest retail stores but also prestigious hotels and restaurants across the globe.
A few years later, in 2008, he became Chief Executive Officer of Indigo Project Consulting, Inc. a consulting firm specialized in brand development, sales, marketing and distribution strategies for high-end retail and wholesale companies. Indigo’s international clients operate in different industries including jewelry, diamonds, fitness, home fragrance, leather accessories and hospitality, among others.
A Founding Advisory Board Member of the Luxury Education Foundation, Charles-Henri Cousin is a Vice-President of the French American Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Luxury Marketing Council, the Paris American Club and Club 600. In his spare time, Mr. Cousin is a guest speaker at the Parsons School of Design and Columbia University.
Jean Marc Gallot
Jean Marc Gallot is the President of Ruinart. Prior to his current position, he was the President of Louis Vuitton Europe. Prior to his current position, he was the President and C.E.O. of Louis Vuitton N.A. Before joining Louis Vuitton, Jean Marc Gallot served as president of Ferragamo USA, Inc. from May 2001 to October 2003. Prior to his role at Ferragamo, Jean Marc also occupied the role of President for Christofle Silver, Inc., in the United States from February 1999 to April 2001. Prior to coming to the United States he was the Director of Marketing at Christofle International in France for 3 years. Prior to this he was with Cartier France in the role of Director of Marketing for Cartier. He holds a Masters degree in Management from the Rouen Graduate School of Management. Jean Marc Gallot is married and has 4 children.
Fred Wilson Retired Chairman and CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue, Fred Wilson was Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Donna Karan Company as well as Cairman and CEO of Eluxury.com, the LVMH retailing company based in San Francisco in addition, prior to DKI Fred was CEO of the LVMH Fashion Group for the Americas. Before moving to New York in 2000, Fred held positions in department store retailing for 10 years between 1969 and 1979 with Federated Department Stores and Associated Dry Goods. He then joined DFS (the duty free group) in 1979 and was with them until they were purchased by LVMH in 1996. During that time Fred and his family lived for 6 years in Asia and 14 years in SFO. The last 10 years with DFS, Fred served as President and Chief Merchandising Officer. After DFS he became CEO for the LVMH Specialty Store Retail division developing new retail concept initiatives for the group.Fred serves on several outside boards and is a trustee at Wabash College where he graduated in 1969 majoring in English Literature.Fred is married to Debbie, (a psychotherapist) and they have four children and one grandchild. Fred and Debbie reside in California and Manhattan.
President & Co-Founder
A master of style, Prosper Assouline is known for merging the modern and the classical in publishing and creative design. The former artistic director of several French fashion magazines, Prosper’s experience includes creating and launching his own magazine, and the founding of a creative agency specializing in branding and advertising in the late 1980s.With a vision of luxury in print, he founded ASSOULINE Publishing with his wife, Martine Assouline, in Paris in 1995, creating a world of exclusivity in books and brand identity. Under the direction of Prosper, ASSOULINE has invented a visual language that is internationally recognized for its excellence.After establishing the imprint as the world’s most important publisher of high-quality illustrated volumes on fashion and style, Prosper opened an office in New York in 2001, which was very well received. In the past four years, ASSOULINE has published over 250 titles for the U.S. market and over 500 in France. The first collection of monographs on the history of fashion, art, and design, ASSOULINE’S Memoire series includes over 150 titles on such legendary names as Azzedine Aläia, Chanel, Charles James, Dolce & Gabbana, and Marc Jacobs.
ASSOULINE books have been translated into more than ten languages and are distributed in the most exclusive retail destinations worldwide. With the help of Ron Frasch, ASSOULINE has become a luxury brand whose medium is culture, opening quarters first in Bergdorf Goodman, and then at ten Saks Fifth Avenue stores, as well as Celux (Tokyo), Lane Crawford (Hong Kong), and Holt Renfrew (Toronto). The ASSOULINE flagship boutique in Paris on Place Saint Germain des Prés opened in October 2005. Conceived as a contemporary library, the boutique features the complete collection of books and luxury products. ASSOULINE created the items around the books, such as Book scented candles, a leather Coach designed library, a variety of slip cased products and limited edition volumes. Also featured is the Goyard trunk, designed by Prosper Assouline with Goyard as a means to capture the nostalgia of traveling with books. Another one of Prosper’s designs is the ASSOULINE Library, a handcrafted bookcase featuring 150 books on style released last year that has sold with great success at Saks.
The spirit and savoir faire of ASSOULINE books have contributed to the creation of a both chic and eclectic luxury brand that is unmistakable. Prosper Assouline creates products that are objects d’art; they have a beauty and a point of view that make them desirable to own and incorporate into the most discerning collections.
President & CEO, LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics
President, Christian Dior, Inc.
Pamela Baxter is a seasoned senior executive with over 30 years experience in the luxury cosmetic, skincare and fragrance industries. In January 2004, Ms. Baxter assumed the newly created position of President and Chief Executive Officer LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics for North America. In October of 2007 she was also given the responsibility for Dior Couture in North America and Mexico including retail, wholesale, advertising, public relations and finance.Ms. Baxter previously held the position of President of the Specialty Group at Estée Lauder Companies with global responsibility for Prescriptives, Crème de la Mer, Jo Malone and Kate Spade Beauty.Her Estée Lauder Companies experience began 23 years ago where she had the position of West Coast Regional Marketing Director for the Aramis brands. In 1990, after a decade of hands-on sales experience, she was asked to relocate to the New York headquarters and in 1992 she was promoted to Vice President Marketing.
In 1994 Ms. Baxter negotiated and signed the first ever licensing agreement in the history of the Estée Lauder Companies and in 1995 led the team that created and launched the very successful Tommy fragrance. This license agreement served as a precedent for others to come.
Also in 1995 she was given the newly acquired Crème de la Mer, for which she led the development of a full line of prestige luxury skincare products that is now sold in over 30 countries and is a top ranking brand at prestige retailers throughout the world.
Ms. Baxter currently has responsibility for Dior, Givenchy, Guerlain, Acqua di Parma and Fresh.
Her first initiative was to restore the image of Dior, which resulted in a drastic reduction of distribution and development of synergies with the fashion heritage.
The Guerlain beauty business has also been her focus with specialty stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue where it is now their fastest growth brand.
Ms. Baxter holds a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Los Angeles (UCLA). She has one son and two grandchildren residing in Los Angeles. She serves as the Chairman of the annual Dream Ball that benefits the Look Good Feel Better program for the American Cancer Society, is a board member for Gilda’s Club Worldwide, CTFA Board of Directors, and also serves on the C.E.W. board as well as FIT.
Pamela enjoys travel, concerts, ballet, theatre, cooking classes and is an avid scuba diver.
President and CEO
Lalique North America
Maz Zouhairi is the President and CEO of Lalique North America, leading the U.S. Operations. Prior to his current position, Maz served as the brand’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, since October 2004. Before joining Lalique, Maz was vice president for sales at Bourjois, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chanel, where he led the sales effort of the French cosmetics and fragrance brand during its launch in the U.S.Maz has worked in the retail industry for almost 20 years. He started his career working while attending college in Ohio, where he studied business administration at Cleveland State University. Maz spent the first seven years of his career in a variety of positions at CIGNAL, a division of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises, where he started as a salesman and worked his way up to district manager before joining The Sports Zone as vice president for store operations, a position he held until the year 2000 when he left to join Bourjois.
President & CEO
Louis Vuitton North America
Daniel Lalonde is President and Chief Executive Officer of Louis Vuitton North America, a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (“LVMH”), the world’s leading luxury products group. Lalonde is responsible for all activities of Louis Vuitton North America.Prior to joining Louis Vuitton, Lalonde was the President & CEO of LVMH (Moët Henessy Louis Vuitton) Watch & Jewelry, North America which includes brands such as TAG Heuer, Christian Dior, Chaumet, Zenith, OMAS writing instruments, and De Beers LV, the luxury retail venture of LVMH and the De Beers Diamond Company.During his tenure at LVMH Watch & Jewelry, Mr. Lalonde successfully grew the business and strengthened the appeal and positioning of each brand in the portfolio. Under Mr. Lalonde’s leadership, the TAG Heuer business tripled, the company became the fastest growing luxury watch brand in North America for four straight years and became the second leading watch brand in North America.
Before joining LVMH, Mr. Lalonde was Global Chief Operating Officer of Nestle Nespresso S.A, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, market leader in premium portioned coffee. There, he led the brand to global market leadership by designing and launching innovative product, opening new regions and developing flagship stores throughout Europe. Nespresso S.A. is one of the fastest growing operating units of the Nestle Group, worlds’ leading food, beverage, nutrition and wellness company.
Prior to joining Nespresso S.A., Mr. Lalonde launched and led the retail division of Häagen-Dazs Europe S.A. as Managing Director, where he developed over 100 prime-location flagship stores in 12 European markets, tripling the business.
His earlier experience includes strategy consulting assignments for prestigious clients in wines and spirits, consumer goods, and technology.
Mr. Lalonde holds an MBA from INSEAD, France. He holds a Bachelor degree and double major in mathematics and business administration from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He has lectured at several highly regarded institutions, including the Harvard Business School and the American Express Luxury Summit. He is on the executive board of Luxury Education Foundation, The Jewelry Information Council, among others and is a member of the INSEAD Council.
A native of Cornwall, Ontario, Mr. Lalonde is married with three children.
Farzad Rastegar is Chairman of Maclaren. He is also the Executive Director of Dory Ventures LLC, a private equity advisory and service firm working with branded consumer goods businesses around the world. Farzad has extensive experience in corporate restructurings mainly in branded goods businesses. He received his B.Sc. from the Imperial College of Science & Technology, London University and an MBA from Columbia University.
COO, Luxury Goods
Loro Piana S.p.A.
Fabio Leoncini is Managing Director of the Luxury Goods Unit and a Member of the Board of Directors of Loro Piana S.p.A. Mr. Leoncini oversees all Retail, Wholesale, Communications, and Operations activities. Since his arrival in 1999, Mr. Leoncini has been responsible for expanding the Luxury Goods Division and developing the company’s directly operated retail network, which today includes 135 stores worldwide. Under Mr. Leoncini’s leadership Loro Piana has grown tenfold in ten years.Prior to joining Loro Piana, Mr. Leoncini was the CEO of Byblos, a fashion company owned by the Italian group Genny Holding SpA. His earlier experience includes management consulting with Booz and Co. as well as private consulting assignments for several turnaround projects in the luxury goods industry.Mr. Leoncini holds an MBA from Columbia University in New York with Beta-Gamma- Sigma honors and a Master Degree in Mechanical Engineering with top honors from the University of Bologna in Italy.
President and CEO of Cartier North America
Mercedes Abramo was appointed President and CEO of Cartier North America in June, 2014, prior to which she served as Vice President of Retail for the Maison in North America. Abramo oversees the strategy and operations for Cartier in North America including 35 boutiques, an e-commerce boutique and more than 150 specialty retailers.Abramo has been with Cartier North America since 2008 serving as the Director of the flagship Fifth Avenue Mansion and AVP of New York Retail overseeing all New York boutiques. Abramo has more than 20 years of retail, hospitality and luxury goods experience and has held management positions with Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue, Ritz Carlton Hotels and Loews Miami Beach.Abramo serves on the board of directors of Jewelers of America and the advisory board of the Luxury Education Foundation, a public not-for-profit organization that focuses on educational programs for undergraduate and graduate students in Design and Business related to the creation and marketing of luxury goods.
Abramo holds a bachelor’s degree from Sewanee: The University of the South and an MBA in International Luxury Brand Management from the prestigious ESSEC Business School.
President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, the Americas
Nicolas Bos is the President and CEO of the Americas, Van Cleef & Arpels, Inc. In this position, Bos is responsible for sales and marketing for both retail and wholesale in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South America. He also retains his role as Worldwide Creative Director.He joined the Richemont Group, which owns Van Cleef & Arpels, in 1992 at the Fondation Cartier for the Contemporary Arts where he grew his expertise in management and marketing while working closely with artists. Bos joined Van Cleef & Arpels in 2000 as International Director of Marketing, and has been instrumental in the growth and increased creative direction of the company in its most recent contemporary chapter.Three years after joining the company, he added the responsibilities of retail strategy, boutique architecture and international network growth. With this expansive platform, Bos directed a more consistent and thematic message of Van Cleef & Arpels as the company grew.
In 2006, Bos’ focus expanded to timepiece marketing, aimed with an important mission to develop a new strategy for this rising segment of market and the House. Drawing upon his business and creative backgrounds, he introduced the concept of Poetic Complications, a then-novel and now-cornerstone watch model of the brand which seamlessly integrates technicality, poetry and time-telling in a way that only Van Cleef & Arpels can offer.
In 2009 Bos was appointed to Vice President and Worldwide Creative Director of Van Cleef & Arpels, a position in which he oversees all development, marketing, communication and creative initiatives for the House on the worldwide level. Most recently he was instrumental in the creation and launch of two high jewelry collections which celebrated the House’s 70th anniversary in the United States – California Rêverie and 744 Fifth.
“I couldn’t be happier to join the Van Cleef & Arpels team in the Americas,” said Bos. “This country has been dear to my heart and very influential in the creative development of this brand on a global scale. I believe that the US is a forward-looking market and I am excited to leading that development with interesting initiatives in the coming years that will build a higher presence.”
Van Cleef & Arpels is a renowned leader in high jewelry and timepieces. For over a century, the Place Vendôme establishment has been at the forefront with a signature style and a mastery of the craft of fine jewelry. Each new collection from Van Cleef & Arpels is inspired by facets of longstanding themes of the House including nature, couture and the arts. This creativity combined with the artisans’ use of only the world’s top-quality gemstones has left Van Cleef & Arpels steeped in its own rarified history as the grandest and most prestigious jeweler in the world.
In the United States, Van Cleef & Arpels has locations in New York (since 1939), Palm Beach (since 1940); Beverly Hills (since 1969); Bal Harbour, FL; Chicago; Costa Mesa (South Coast Plaza); Las Vegas (City Center and Palazzo); Manhasset, NY; Boca Raton, NY; Naples, FL; San Francisco; Bellevue, WA and Short Hills, NJ (2010).
President & CEO,
Louis Vuitton North America
Valerie Chapoulaud-Floquet was born on November 9th, 1962 in Neuilly sur Seine, France.Valerie graduated in 1983 from the Lyon Business School (France) with a degree in International Business and Finance. She started her career in a commercial bank in Milan. In 1984 she entered the L’Oreal Group where she held various positions, in various countries. She stayed with L’Oreal until July 2007.In 2008 she joined Louis Vuitton as President and CEO in Taiwan, in 2009 she moved to Milan as President of the South Europe division and in July 2011 she was named President and CEO of Louis Vuitton North America.
Valerie is fluent in French, English and Italian.
President & CEO,
President of the Luxe Events Division at Euro RSCG Worldwide
Thomas Serrano is the President of the Luxe Events Division at Euro RSCG Worldwide, which he launched in 2007. His clients include Dom Perignon, Elizabeth Arden, Hugo Boss, Remy Cointreau, Louis XIII (Remy Cointreau), Lazard Bank, Open Skies (British Airways), Krug Champagne, IWC (International Watch Company), Breitling…Before assuming his current role, Thomas was the Director of the Luxe Division and Large Scale Show Production at Le Public Systeme, a Paris-based communications group. There, Thomas worked with clients such as Audemars Piguet, Nespresso, Cartier, Veuve Cliquot, Givenchy, and Chanel.Before joining Le Public Systeme, Thomas was the Director of Account Managers for 7 years at Market Place, a special events agency in Paris.
Thomas is currently a member of various members-only luxury clubs including 4th Avenue, Luxury Marketing Council, and the Luxury Education Foundation. He has been a guest speaker at The Luxury Society’s World Tour/Conference that was held in New York City in 2011, and is a frequent guest speaker at New York University’s Business School.
Thomas earned a business degree in Entrepreneurship from The Edhec Business School in 1998.
President and CEO of Pomellato USA, Inc.
Guglielmo Melegari, a seasoned senior executive with over 20 years in the luxury market, is the President and CEO of Pomellato USA, Inc. where he oversees the United States, Canada and the Caribbean markets. Joining Pomellato in 2006 he has since expanded retail distribution, opening four Pomellato and three Dodo boutiques, as well as increasing wholesale distribution channels with fine specialty and department stores.Mr. Melegari previously held the position of President of Max Mara USA. Initially joining the company’s wholesale division in Milan during the 1990’s, he soon took on the role as head of marketing and franchising. In 1994 he relocated to the US where he became Executive Vice President responsible for the US subsidiary. In 2001 he was appointed President and developed what quickly became a burgeoning US business, opening 30 stand-alone stores and expanding wholesale distribution channels.Born in Parma, Italy, Mr. Melegari is a graduate of the University of Bologna with a degree in economics. He currently resides in New York City.
Managing Director of Bulgari USA
Alberto Festa joined Bulgari Corporation of America in 2012 as the Managing Director of the USA. Prior to his New York City arrival, Mr. Festa held the position of Managing Director of Bulgari SpA, based in Rome, where he held the position for 11 years. Before joining the Bulgari family, he served as the CEO of Matrix (Division of Bristol Mayers – Italy and South Europe) as well as Sales Director of Mattel Toys and Pepsi Cola. His career began at Colgate Palmolive after his graduation from the University of Rome La Sapienza, where his love of learning led him to pursue his tenure as a Contract Professor at LUISS University, teaching Luxury Management in the International Business Course of the Economic Faculty. An avid sailor, in his free time, Mr. Festa enjoys being at sea with his wife and two sons.
Melody E. Lee,
Director, Brand & Reputation Strategy, Global Cadillac
Melody Lee is director, Brand & Reputation Strategy at Global Cadillac. In this position, Lee is responsible for building Cadillac’s global brand identity and driving a clear and consistent strategy across all of its channels, products and markets. As part of her portfolio, she oversees events and sponsorships that impact Cadillac’s broader brand image, and coordinates market research, analytics and communications.Prior to joining Cadillac, Lee was executive vice president at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, one of the world’s leading public relations agencies. At H+K, Lee provided strategic communications and public affairs counsel to corporate clients, and led the office of the global chairman. Her specialties included transactions, crisis and litigation and public affairs support for clients.Lee has a depth of experience in high-stakes crisis and transaction situations for high-profile clients, and her work at H+K Strategies included strategic and tactical campaign execution for American Airlines in Tokyo, Japan, as well as leading communications around several large mergers and acquisitions. She was also a member of the team that provided international communications, media relations and research assistance to the International Olympic Committee in 2008, both in Beijing and in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Before transitioning into the role of executive vice president at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Lee was a director at Public Strategies. Prior to joining Public Strategies, Lee led market research and logistics analysis for a major national advertising company. She has also worked for the Bureau for Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Justice and as a project manager for a promotional goods manufacturer in Beijing, China.
Lee speaks conversational Mandarin Chinese. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Science in international affairs from Georgia Institute of Technology, and also attended the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
President & Regional Director, Ferragamo USA
As President and Regional director of Ferragamo USA, an affiliate of the global luxury fashion company, Vincent Ottomanelli oversees all operations, sales and marketing of the company in North & Latin America. Joining the company in 2003 as Chief Financial Officer, Ottomanelli was promoted to his current position in 2005 by US Chairman Massimo Ferragamo. Under Ottomanelli’s leadership, the company’s US revenues have grown more than 100% percent, while profits have grown 300% percent. In addition to streamlining operations, returning the company to profitability, and introducing a new brand strategy focused on elevating the company’s profile as a leading fashion luxury player, his major accomplishment has been the expansion of the company’s retail network, growing the number of retail stores from 17 to 46 during his Ten -year tenure.Prior to Ferragamo, Ottomanelli served as Chief Financial Officer of Hugo Boss Fashions, Inc., the US affiliate of Hugo Boss worldwide. During his six years in this position, he helped to deliver unprecedented profitability to the company.Ottomanelli began his career at Deloitte & Touche, LLP. He graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting from Bloomsburg University, and is a C.P.A with a certification from New York State.
Vincent Ottomanelli lives in Montgomery Township, NJ with his wife and three children.
The St. Regis New York
A second-generation hotelier, Hermann Elger joined the iconic St. Regis New York as General Manager in May 2014. Elger moved to New York from California where he held the position of General Manager at the Montage, Beverly Hills since 2010. Under his leadership, the Montage received an AAA Five Diamond award and maintained a Forbes Five Star rating. Prior to his role at the Montage, Elger served as the General Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, where he was responsible for all aspects of the property, and worked to maximize the profitability of the hotel while exceeding clientele expectations through the highest quality product, services and attention to detail.In addition, Elger has held positions as Hotel Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, and The Ritz- Carlton, Key Biscayne, and was the Opening Team Leader for The Ritz-Carlton, Aspen Highlands, Philadelphia, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. He also held positions around the world as Assistant Executive Manager, Takeover Team Leader, and Director of Rooms Division.Elger attended the University of Denver, where he received his B.S.B.A. in Business Administration and Hotel Management. He began his career working as a Doorman for The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado and has built over twenty-five years of industry experience from around the world.
Head of Kering Americas
Laurent Claquin is the Head of Kering Americas, the parent company of 20 leading global luxury and sport & lifestyle brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Brioni, Stella McCartney, Puma and Volcom. Claquin has been with Kering, formerly known as PPR, since 2004 when he joined as an advisor to Francois-Henri Pinault at Artemis.Before rising to Head of Kering Americas, Claquin initiated and developed the Corporate Social Responsibility program at Kering. Prior to that, Claquin was Kering’s Senior Vice President of Communication. Claquin began his career in 1994 as a consultant at Coopers & Lybrand. In 1997, Claquin pursued his passion for the arts by working at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris. Additionally, Claquin was the Deputy Communications Director at the Pompidou Center. Since 2002, Claquin served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the French Minister of Culture and Communication and then Technical Advisor to the Minister since 2004. Claquin is a graduate of the ESC Rennes School of Business and currently resides in New York City.
President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels Americas
President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels Americas, Alain Bernard, was tapped for the position in April 2013 after serving as the President and CEO for the Japan region. Starting with the Maison in 2010, Mr. Bernard was charged with reshaping the business and steered the sharp rise of awareness and sales in the market. Mr. Bernard has strong roots at the Richemont Group, having joined the company in 1998 as Organization Project Manager for Cartier. In 2000 he was appointed Internet Director, and in 2002 he moved to Singapore to assume the role of Managing Director for Cartier Southeast Asia.Van Cleef & Arpels was born in Paris’ Place Vendôme in 1906, following Alfred Van Cleef’s marriage to Estelle Arpels in 1895. Always striving for excellence, the Maison has become a worldwide reference through its unique designs, its choice of exceptional stones and its virtuoso craftsmanship, offering jewels and timepieces that tell stories and bring enchantment to life. Over the years, the Maison has remained faithful to this highly distinctive style characterized by creativity, refinement and poetry. Whether inspired by nature, couture or the imagination, its collections evoke a timeless world of harmony and beauty.In 2011, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum hosted “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels” heritage exhibition. On display were over 350 works from the Maison including jewelry, timepieces, and precious accessories, as well as archival drawings and documents. Over 172,000 visitors passed through the exhibition, breaking the museum’s attendance record for any exhibit in its history.
Presently, Van Cleef & Arpels and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum have partnered again for the “Design By Hand” educational series. This bi-annual program showcases the pioneering design techniques, craftsmanship, and creativity behind some of the most notable brands where the human hand plays an important role in the design process. The special programs are designed for the museum’s core audiences – university students, high school students, adults and families – and feature educational conversations and workshops.
Senior Vice President – Strategy and Development
Tiffany & Co.
Jean-Marc Bellaiche is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business development for Tiffany & Co. In this role, he is responsible for defining strategic priorities for the company and overviews new business initiatives including watches, leather goods, eyewear and fragrance.Jean-Marc joined Tiffany in 2014 and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the luxury sector. Previously, he was Senior Partner at the Boston Consulting Group, where he was leading the global Luxury, Fashion, Beauty and Department Stores practice and was implementing competitive business strategies for global clients in these sectors.Jean-Marc has a degree in econometry engineering from École Centrale Paris and an MBA from the global business school INSEAD.
Philippe Farnier is the Chief Executive Officer of Rémy Cointreau USA and a member of the company’s global Executive Committee. In addition to leading the value strategy of the group’s luxury brands in the U.S. market, Farnier oversees business development in other markets of the Americas.Farnier graduated business school in France and completed the Advanced Management Program at Columbia University in New York. He began his career in sales and marketing at some of the leading food and beverage companies including Kraft Jacobs Suchard and Heineken in France and Spain. In 2003, he moved to the cosmetics industry working for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté as Sales Director and then General Manager in France before joining LVMH in August 2008. He began as the General Manager for Parfums Christian Dior in France transitioning to General Manager of Travel Retail for Parfums Christian Dior for Europe, Middle East and Africa in January 2013.An avid skier and competitive sailor, Farnier has won many regional sailing regattas in both the Laser and Figaro boat classes. Farnier is fluent in English, French and Spanish and currently resides in New York City with his wife and family.
Anthony Ledru was appointed President and CEO of Louis Vuitton Americas in January, 2015 and has approximately 20 years of experience in the luxury retail industry in the U.S. And Latin America. Prior to joining Louis Vuitton, Ledru served as Senior Vice President, North America, at Tiffany & Co. where he was responsible for the brand strategy for the U.S. And Canadian subsidiaries. Ledru also served as Global Vice President of Sales at Harry Winston International and has held several positions at Cartier North America over a period of 10 years.Ledru grew up in France and has a passion for Latin America where he lived both in Argentina and Brazil for several years. Ledru is a graduate of the Skema Business School in France.
A motto of sorts that extends across the organization, “a little bit obsessed with shoes” especially rings true with CEO Wayne Kulkin. Throughout his 25 years with Stuart Weitzman, LLC, the former President and Vice Chairman has long come to play an integral role in both its development and rise to prominence.Stuart Weitzman has and continues to flourish under his direction. Whereas it had its beginnings in the wholesale business, these days, the company has grown into an internationally renowned luxury brand with a world-class pool of talent, dotting the globe with 54 retail stores across the United States and in Europe, plus licensed international stores and international shop-in-shops and e-commerce sites in the United States, Canada, Europe and Hong Kong.“Wayne has been a true partner over the last 25 years,” said Weitzman. “His passion, creativity and business acumen have contributed to consistent improvement and growth, year after year.”
Kulkin first met Executive Chairman and founder Stuart Weitzman during his stint as lead buyer for Nordstrom’s Southern California division when he was 24 years old. Weitzman persuaded him to join the company to head its west coast sales team in 1990. His ascent to higher levels of management evolved from there, which has seen him virtually run or overseen every division of the company. He has helped establish and maintain its distinctive culture, shaping it into what it is today—a brand with an unwavering commitment to exceptional craftsmanship and the perfect fit, dedicated to melding fashion and function, all the while steeped in an unmistakable luxury. In tune with and catered to the modern woman, Stuart Weitzman is about igniting her imagination and making her feel glamorous.
As CEO, Kulkin oversees Stuart Weitzman’s strategic global expansion plan. He is also instrumental in ensuring its continuous development across each of its channels and touchpoints, whether through talent acquisition or strategic planning.
“My heart and ‘sole’ are in Asia. I like to keep running part of our business and Asia is my love,” said Kulkin, adding that he expects the company to grow “by over 75 per cent in Asia-Pacific in 2014, and then double that over the next three years.”
Wayne Kulkin resides in New Canaan, CT with his wife and 2 children.
Departures and Centurion Magazines
Steven DeLuca is the Senior Vice President, Publishing Director for American Express DEPARTURES, DEPARTURES.com and Centurion Magazine which are exclusive benefits of American Express Platinum Card and Centurion Membership. Since joining in 2010, Mr. DeLuca has successfully expanded the reach and relevancy of each media property with both affluent consumers and luxury marketers. He has been recognized by his peers for his leadership role in the industry and is often asked to speak on trends affecting the luxury sector. A native New Yorker, Mr. DeLuca resides on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
President & CEO
Ocsar de la Renta
Alex Bolen is the Chief Executive Officer of Oscar de la Renta, LLC., an international luxury goods firm headquartered in New York City. Bolen, who was named CEO in July 2004 after serving as the company’s Director of Corporate Development, joined Oscar de la Renta in January 2003 after a 14-year career on Wall Street focused on leveraged finance, most recently at Bear Stearns & Co., where he was Managing Director in the Mezzanine Capital Group.Alex graduated from Brown University in 1990 with a BA in Russian Studies, magna cum laude. He and his wife, Eliza, who serves as Oscar de la Renta’s Executive Vice President, are the proud parents of three boys.
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Audemars Piguet North America
With an engineering background and ten years of experience in the energy sector, Xavier Nolot began his career with Audemars Piguet in 2003 at the company’s headquarters in Switzerland. In his role as Sales Administration Manager he oversaw 27 subsidiaries and agents worldwide with product allocations, sales forecasts and industrial and commercial planning coordination. In 2005, Mr. Nolot joined Audemars Piguet North America as Vice President of Logistics and Information Systems, a position he held until 2013 when he was named CEO of Audemars Piguet North America.
Mr. Nolot received his Master’s in Energy Engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure D’Arts et Métiers (ENSAM) and his MBA from Lausanne University.
President and Chief Executive Officer,
A British and Italian National, Pier Guerci studied in Europe and obtained his MBA from Baruch College in New York City while working for the US subsidiary of the Bormioli Glass Companies. He joined Bormioli in 1978 and worked in a variety of positions for the Italian glass conglomerate that specializes in manufacturing glass packaging for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Named President of US operations of Bormioli USA in 1985, Pier joined Loro Piana in 1989 after the family owned textile company purchased a New England mill in Stafford Springs Connecticut. He was instrumental in achieving a leadership position in the US textile market and played a key role in the diversification process that ultimately led to Loro Piana becoming a fully fledged luxury lifestyle brand. This process included the development of a complete finished product line for Men’s and Women’s that resulted in a substantial wholesale business and ultimately, in a chain of directly operated retail stores.