Galeries Lafayette, in a bold move, creates the position of fashion director
No question that the hand of Nicholas Houzé is behind the decision. Houzé took over the department store division of the Galeries Lafayette group in March last year, replacing Paul Delaoutre. The French group of department stores has just created a new role: fashion director of the department store division. The full title is deputy commercial director in charge of fashion direction.
In French, of course, the title is feminine – directrice – since the new occupant of the role is a woman, Averyl Oates. Her arrival is planned for September 2. She will report to Michel Roulleau, commercial director and deputy director general of the department store division of Galeries Lafayette.
In recruiting Averyl Oates from across the Channel, the French group was looking to acquire a distinguished fashion specialist. From September 2004 to January 2012 she was director of fashion and merchandising at Harvey Nichols, and from 2001 to 2004, director of women’s fashion at Harrods.
Even earlier, she obtained important international experience, in Singapore and then in London, as senior buyer for Christina Ong (owner of the multibrand retailer Club 21). In 1998, Averyl joined Donna Karan International in New York as vice president of retail activities and then worked in Paris for Emanuel Ungaro.
In early 2012, she was recruited to launch an English luxury website, Luxup. There she was teamed up with a former director of English Vogue. Nonetheless, Luxup wasn’t a success and folded last March.
Averyl Oates’ background is anything but ordinary. This is no doubt a formidable adversary whom Nicholas Houzé has put into place to face up to Printemps, which was acquired by Qatari investors. It’s no accident that she now has the same title as Maria-Luisa, the well-known fashion director of Printemps. With, as well, experience in the big-name Anglo-Saxon companies with among the best reputations.
One can expect that, even more than the quality of the brands, it’s the quality of the offerings that will make the difference between these two iconic Boulevard Haussmann department stores – and thus the ability to attract the biggest labels. From Galeries Lafayette’s viewpoint, the game is on.
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