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DVF's First-Ever CEO Leaves After 18 Months

Paolo Riva's departure comes at a transitional time for the company.
Paolo Riva. Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Paolo Riva. Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

After a "long search" according to Diane von Furstenberg at the time, the designer hired Paolo Riva as her first-ever CEO last April. And on Thursday, after just 18 months, the company announced that he has resigned, effective immediately. According to WWD, he is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

"I would like to thank Paolo for his contribution to DVF," said von Furstenberg in a statement. "Our business strategy and Jonathan Saunders' vision for the brand remain in place. I am very excited about our future."

Riva joined DVF from Tory Burch, where he was vice president, apparel and visual merchandising, and fueled speculation that the American womenswear brand had its eye on an IPO. And while his tenure may have been short, it wasn't uneventful. Riva and von Furstenberg, like many designers and CEOs lately, have been working to bring the company into the digital age and keep it relevant in a rapidly changing retail landscape. That has included experimenting with fashion week events: an aggressively Instagram-baiting fall 2016 show followed by a much more intimate presentation for the debut collection from new creative director Jonathan Saunders, whom Riva hired, allowing von Furstenberg to take an even larger step back from day-to-day duties. Von Furstenberg has said that Riva was leading her brand's "third era."

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Like many, Riva seemed to struggle a bit with finding the right show format: "We are asking the fashion show to do everything: to showcase the product, to communicate in an intelligent way to press, to assist our partners to buy the collection, social media buzz, celebrities and influencers... It's too much for one moment," he said at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Conference earlier this year. "Let's split it up."

DVF has always been seen as a very pro-female company, and many were surprised by the decision to hire Saunders as a creative lead. We can't help but wonder if von Furstenberg is now on the hunt for a woman to fill the CEO role.

A rep for DVF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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