Barneys New York CEO Mark Lee wants a fashion director after all.
Following Monday's news that store veteran Julie Gilhart would be leaving the company, WWD reports that Lee is said to be searching for a fashion director. His two top candidates? Lane Crawford's Sarah Rutson and Vogue's Virginia Smith.
Both choices makes sense, Rutson more so. But the woman who transformed Lane Crawford into a serious fashion player has been living in Hong Kong for the 15 years. Will she want to transplant herself to New York?
Smith, who is the fashion market/accessories director at Vogue, might not have a retail background, but she certainly has the eye Lee is looking for. While Barneys needs to maintain its edge, it also needs to offer a broader range of product. Remember, Barneys' main problem--from an investor's standpoint--is that it's not selling enough clothes.
If Smith is appointed, she will follow in a long string of departures at Vogue, including Sally Singer and Stephanie Winston Wykoff. More than anything, it's another indication that Anna Wintour's time as editor-in-chief might be coming to an end sooner than later. As one person told me, "It's like she's strategically placing all of her top people so that they're better off when she's gone."