June Ambrose: Creative director and designer, Women’s Hoops, Puma
Celebrity stylist, costume designer and creative director June Ambrose’s career has spanned more than 30 years.
As a stylist, June Ambrose is responsible for some of the most iconic music video fashion of the last few decades, working with Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott — most notably the rapper’s beloved trash bag costumes from her “The Rain (Supa Fly)” music video. Her styling and design expertise caught the eye of many major brands, like Levi’s, Target, La Mer and others, who have worked with her on partnerships and collaborations.
In 2020, Ambrose was tapped by Puma to be the brand’s creative director for its women’s basketball category, creating a collection called “High Court” that saw retail success. She followed up the collection in 2023 with her first co-branded Puma collection, called “Keeping Score,” which celebrated the brand’s 75th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
Through all her career milestones and partnerships, Ambrose has made a point to stay authentic to herself, which she thinks has aided in her success. She says: “The most important way for women to use their power is by always showing up as their authentic and full self. I believe we have an authentic intelligence that makes us all unique and gives us our own superpowers. When women own that, take up space and show up in the world with this, not only are we contributing to our current society but also impacting and influencing the next generation — so the cycle continues.” — Layla Ilchi
Francesca Amfitheatrof, artistic director for watches and jewelry, Louis Vuitton
A globetrotter born in Tokyo and trained at London’s Central Saint Martins, Francesca Amfitheatrof became the first artistic director for watches and jewelry at the French luxury house in 2018.
“Feel the power, don’t taste the power” is her advice to women. This sense of empowerment is the throughline of the five high jewelry collections she has designed so far for Louis Vuitton, in which she imagined bold designs served by striking gemstones.
Before joining Louis Vuitton, Amfitheatrof made a debut at the intersection of fashion and art when she presented silver jewelry designs at the White Cube gallery in London in 1993. Most recently, she was design director at Tiffany & Co., the first woman to hold the position at the storied American jeweler, was instrumental in the reposition of the Tiffany Blue Book collections, and launched the HardWear fine jewelry range in 2017.
Deeply committed to education, Amfitheatrof has made mentoring an integral part of her work, featuring a course at her CSM alma matter and awarding two internships at Louis Vuitton to students each year. She is also president of the U.S. board of Sarabande, the Alexander McQueen foundation, and on the board of the Royal College of Art USA chaired by Johnny Ive. — Lily Templeton
Delphine Arnault personifies soft power. Earlier this year, she became chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture, one of the crown jewels of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French luxury group helmed by her father, Bernard Arnault. Commenting on his eldest child’s promotion, he called it “another milestone in a career journey in fashion and leather goods defined by excellence.”
LVMH prides itself on creating desirable, high-quality products, and that’s always been Delphine Arnault’s m.o.
“Creativity, attentiveness, listening, the art of detail, independence…are for me key vectors of women’s power,” she told WWD. “Fashion, creation in general, enables women to increase this plural strength, to deploy their formidable capacity to weave connections, to lean in, generating meaning and collective energy.”
Schooled at the EDHEC Business School in Lille and the London School of Economics, Arnault began her career by spending two years at the international management consultancy McKinsey & Co., joining the family business in 2000 as a development director at the John Galliano fashion house. She moved to Dior in 2001 as a commercial director, also joining the executive committee. She ultimately worked her way up, rising to become Dior’s deputy managing director in 2008.
In 2013, Arnault was named executive vice president at Louis Vuitton, a commanding post in charge of supervising all of its product-related activities. Passionate about contemporary art, she spearheaded an array of splashy collaborations with the likes of Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and others.
Very much in the mold of her father, Delphine Arnault delights in nurturing the creative sparks that fuel the industry, following design ideas through the multiple steps until they reach the sales floor.
She’s also a key talent scout for the group, and the force behind the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize, which marked its 10th edition this year. — Miles Socha
Alessandra Biaggi, former politician
With her pathfinding work on the “Fashion Act,” former two-term New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi has made her name known in fashion. Under the ambitious bill, Biaggi (alongside the likes of Stella McCartney) first called for New York fashion players with revenues of $100 million in revenue to be held accountable for environmental and social practices. This includes adopting standardized environmental reporting, aligned social due diligence policies and an established fashion remediation fund for wrongdoings, among other aspects. The bill is set to weave its way into another legislative cycle under policymaker Brad Hoylman-Sigal.
Since the bill’s introduction, countless supporters from ThredUp to Fashion Revolution and more have endorsed New York’s “Fashion Act.” Without question, the bill has spurred dialogue around what it takes to revive a domestic Garment District and sustainable fashion, more broadly.
Prior to her foray into the fashion world, Biaggi led the charge in New York to pass legislation that holds workplaces accountable for addressing sexual misconduct. During her time in the Democratic conference, Biaggi worked with colleagues to pass legislation spanning tenant-centered housing reforms, climate-change initiatives, criminal justice reform, comprehensive workplace protections and voter protection legislation. She even spearheaded the operations for the Hillary Clinton campaign during the historic 2016 presidential election year.
“Women are most powerful when despite being deemed difficult by men and women alike, remain unstoppable and unruly in the face of their loudest critics attempts to frighten them into silence,” Biaggi said.
A lifelong New Yorker and alumni of New York University and Fordham Law, Biaggi has, once again, regained her student status pursuing Harvard Divinity school in the fall. — Kaley Roshitsh
Hailey Rhode Bieber, founder, Rhode
Rhode, Hailey Bieber’s beauty brand, debuted last year with a serum, a moisturizer and a suite of lip balms that garnered a waitlist in the hundreds of thousands.
As a part of the brand’s inception, Bieber also founded the Rhode Futures Foundation, which met its goal of supporting 1,000 women and their families by 2023. That entails donating at least 1 percent of sales to different organizations that provide women of color with resources needed to “direct their own futures,” per its website.
“As women, we can use our power to champion each other, which is why I created the Rhode Futures Foundation. It was incredibly important to me to bring this to life at the same time as my brand, Rhode, to use my platform to uplift and invest in solutions that position women to direct their own futures,” Bieber, the founder, creative director and chairwoman of Rhode, said. “The results we’ve seen from the foundation in the last year alone are reflective of the impact that women-led brands can create and we’re so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, together with our community.”
Since then, the brand has also released an essence in line with the brand’s barrier-protecting value proposition, and has expanded to new territories like the U.K. and Canada.
At the same time, Bieber has continued a robust modeling career, starring in campaigns for Saint Laurent and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Tiffany & Co., and been a catalyst for style trends — from lobs to glazed donut nails — among Gen Z. — James Manso
Grace Wales Bonner, designer
It’s been quite a year so far for Grace Wales Bonner, who was awarded the BFC/GQ Designer Fashion Fund for menswear, and who staged a standout spring show at the Paris Men’s shows in June.
Starting in November, she’ll be taking part in the Museum of Modern Art’s Artist’s Choice series. For her “Spirit Movers” theme, she is curating around 50 works from MoMA’s collection.
She has owed her success in large part to the women who surround her.
Wales Bonner says she’s grateful for the strong female leaders “who have helped me understand a way to operate in the world. All you have to do is look around to understand how to live fearlessly and shine brightly. There are so many wonderful examples existing in real time.”
The accolades have landed regularly since she launched her menswear label, Wales Bonner, in 2014, shortly after graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins and winning the L’Oréal Professionnel Talent Award.
She is an LVMH Prize winner, and in June 2022 was Pitti Uomo’s special guest designer.
In 2015, Wales Bonner scooped the prize for Emerging Menswear Designer at the Fashion Awards in London and received the CFDA International Men’s Designer of the Year award in 2021.
In 2022 she was awarded an MBE for services to fashion in Queen Elizabeth’s annual Birthday Honors list. MBE stands for Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and holders include fellow designer Craig Green and musicians Adele and Ed Sheeran.
Wales Bonner has a long history of collaborations and inspirations, many of which focus on the experiences and cultures of African communities and diaspora on both sides of the Atlantic.
Past collections have referenced the works of Caribbean poets Kamau Brathwaite and the Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott and the experience of Black Caribbean expats and intellectuals living and studying in England in the ’80s.
She has also been inspired by West African studio portraiture and the work of the artist Sanlé Sory in the ’70s, as well as the lives of Don and Moki Cherry as they were making music and art in ’70s Sweden.
Earlier this year, Wales Bonner introduced a bigger, broader apparel offer, new footwear, jewelry and accessories collections. She has also forged strong ties with retailers including Nordstrom.
She has a longstanding collaboration with Adidas and was among the creatives that Maria Grazia Chiuri tapped to contribute looks to the 2020 Dior cruise collection. — Samantha Conti
Gina Boswell, CEO, Bath & Body Works
Bath & Body Works Inc. appointed Gina Boswell as chief executive officer and a member of the board in 2022 and she has hit the ground running, working to transform the established retailer as a stand-alone business following its spin off from L Brands.
That includes launching Bath & Body Works’ loyalty program nationwide. The company has said enrollment speed is one of the fastest in the industry, and the program has 38 million members to date. Loyalty sales represented approximately two-thirds of Bath & Body Works’ U.S. sales since launch.
The retailer also entered fabric care, debuting its first laundry detergents and scent boosters online and in 80 stores this fall, with plans to introduce fabric softeners and other products within the category.
Bath & Body Works is also building on the success of its men’s business to include grooming, initially focusing on face and beard care and has also launched hair care with shampoo, conditioner and a dry shampoo.
Boswell previously worked at Unilever, first as executive vice president of personal care in North America, before being appointed head of Unilever U.K. and Ireland. Most recently, she was president of customer development for Unilever USA. She joined Unilever through the acquisition of Alberto Culver Company, where she served as president of global brands. Earlier in her career, Boswell held leadership and business development roles at Avon Products Inc., Ford Motor Co. and the Estée Lauder Cos.
“Retail and beauty industries have the opportunity — and I would say, responsibility — to model how diverse representation delivers better results,” said Boswell. “As a leader, I’m committed to using my platform to continue to advocate for and drive impactful change.” — Kathryn Hopkins
Carmen Busquets, entrepreneur, strategic investor and philanthropist
What do Net-a-porter, Moda Operandi, Farfetch and Cult Beauty have in common? They were all backed by Carmen Busquets.
The Venezuelan-born entrepreneur was a pioneer investor in the fashion tech space, cofounding Net-a-porter and putting her money behind a series of companies that also include Lyst, Flowerbx and Astley Clarke.
She has also focused on sustainable ventures such as Byronesque, the Paris-based luxury vintage retailer that recently relaunched as an online boutique department store.
Not just a business angel, Busquets supports a variety of philanthropic causes, including the World Wildlife Fund; nonprofit Nest, which helps to connect artisans with retailers and brands; and Glasswing, which operates health and education programs for children in Latin America and New York City.
Having started her retail career while she was still studying at the University of Miami and, in the ’90s, founding Cabus, a multibrand luxury fashion retailer in Caracas, she is also passionate about mentoring female business leaders.
“Women need to use their power to uplift other women. My goal is to see women become the leaders they are capable of being. I devote a lot of my time to mentoring female entrepreneurs, teaching them what I have learnt about running sustainable and profitable businesses focused on growth,” Busquets said. “I also work with a number of nonprofit organizations focused on promoting gender and racial equality as I value cultural diversity and feel that everyone, regardless of their background, should have the same access to opportunities and to being heard.”
Alexandra Van Houtte, founder and chief executive officer of fashion search engine Tagwalk, is one of her mentees. “Carmen does things unlike anyone else. She works through instinct and invests enormous amounts of time in other people. She is much more than an investor,” Van Houtte said. — Joelle Diderich
Carla Chalouhi, president and CEO of Arije
When Carla Chalouhi took over in 1994 after the sudden passing of her father, the family-owned duty-free operation had one store in Paris, four employees, and business, particularly in hard luxury industries, was still very much male-dominated.
Nearly three decades later, Arije has grown to a network of 14 doors across France, the U.K. and Monaco, including three multibrand flagships in Paris and London, carrying the timepieces of Rolex, Bulgari, Cartier among others, as well as jewelry brands Boucheron, Chopard or Messika.
Chalouhi strongly believes that women can “mentor and uplift others to recognize and take advantage of their unique traits, in order to challenge the status quo and create positive change in their environment,” she told WWD, having “witnessed firsthand the transformation of women’s purpose and power in society” throughout her career.
In particular, women’s “power of procreation and nurturing” means they have “an instinct to create and implement boundless ideas,” enabling them to “challenge and reshape the world around them, preventing conflict on corporate, political or other levels of society, without affecting the issues at hand through soft power,” she said.
At the helm of a company that counts more than 150 employees and with sales surpassing 100 million euros a year, Chalouhi has carved a distinctive position in the executive spheres of high-end watchmaking and jewelry, where her discretion is as sought after as her expert insight.
“Influential women can inspire the younger generations to recognize their uniqueness and potential, reminding them that more often than not, the barriers that inhibit them from being successful are internal and preconceived beliefs,” she said. “It is only once we recognize and challenge the subtle yet defeating factors that we encounter daily, that we can break them apart, embrace our potential, and reach leadership positions.” — Lily Templeton
Prisca Courtin, chairman, Groupe Clarins’ supervisory board, and CEO, Famille C Participations, and Virginie Courtin, managing director, Groupe Clarins
Prisca Courtin and Virginie Courtin’s roles at Groupe Clarins, founded by their grandfather Jacques Courtin, were elevated in February 2022 to chairman of the company’s supervisory board, and managing director Groupe Clarins, respectively.
Prisca Courtin also founded Famille C Participations, her family’s holding company that has recently made some headline-grabbing acquisitions. In April, it purchased a majority stake in Pai Skincare to help step up the brand’s growth and turn it into selective distribution’s clean skin care leader. In March 2022, it acquired buzzy Ilia Beauty. Other beauty brands in the portfolio include Ceremonia and Joone.
“The women of our generation have a particular responsibility, because we’re moving into positions that women couldn’t have reached 50 years ago,” Prisca Courtin said. “Our responsibility as company directors is to set up open governance, mixed and diverse management teams, welcoming different profiles to enrich decision-making. This question is also particularly important for us, as we work in an industry where the vast majority of products are produced for women.”
Virginie Courtin, who spent four years serving as a group deputy chief executive officer before moving into the managing director role, has been instrumental in forming Clarins’ Corporate Social Responsibility roadmap, including the Clarins We Care approach for caring for people and the planet. That includes aiming for B Corp certification by 2024, codesigning products with consumers, implementing a responsible purchasing charter and decreasing the number of ingredients used in formulas. It is part of the company’s ambitious strategy, called Clarins Unlimited, which should help the company pass the 2 billion euro net revenue threshold in 2024, according to industry sources.
“The most important way for women to use their power is to use it as a tool for positive change. I think that we must use our skills and resources, our inner strength and influence to empower the next generation, create innovative ideas for the future,” said Virginie Courtin. “I personally use my voice to set Clarins the best example possible: to give back what nature gives us, to create a more equitable world, to advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, for the environment…and to always learn, grow, listen and improve.” — Jennifer Weil
Jennifer Coolidge, actor
A comedic character actor for three decades, Jennifer Coolidge achieved leading role status for her performance as Tonya McQuoid in HBO’s “White Lotus,” delighting fans on- and off-screen with her real talk and confident style. She also starred in an E.l.f. Beauty Super Bowl commercial.
At age 62, she has a Golden Globe, an Emmy and another Emmy nomination, and is being sent more scripts than ever. Next, she’ll be seen in the films “Riff Raff” with Brian Cox and Dustin Hoffman, and in “Legally Blonde 3” reprising her role with Reese Witherspoon. — Booth Moore
Raffaella Cornaggia, CEO, Kering Beauté
Raffaella Cornaggia was named chief executive officer of Kering Beauté and member of Kering’s executive committee in February, following months of speculation about whether the French luxury conglomerate would take its beauty business back in-house. The company wasted no time doing so.
Cornaggia, a beauty-industry veteran with experience at L’Oréal, Chanel Parfums Beauté and the Estée Lauder Cos., is mandated with developing a beauty expertise for a bouquet of brands, including Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Pomellato and Qeelin. Industry experts believe it makes good strategic sense for Kering to sharpen its focus on beauty, especially as the group has a stronger balance sheet and net cash position with which to carry out deals.
And while many assumed Cornaggia and her team would first solely focus on polishing up the brands already in Kering’s portfolio, major news broke in June that the group had acquired high-end niche fragrance house Creed in a deal reportedly valued at 3.5 billion euros. It is expected that Creed’s existing network will let Kering build the distribution capabilities for its fledgling beauty division.
Kering-owned fashion brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent also have beauty brands, outsourced to Coty Inc. and L’Oréal, respectively. Interparfums runs Boucheron’s perfume business, while Lalique Group develops Brioni fragrances.
All eyes are on how those will be lured back and what else Kering might snap up. Cornaggia’s stance on the most important way for women to use their power? “Our power comes from our true self, and I believe our responsibility is being, in every way, who we really are,” she said. “I also firmly believe that we can effectively drive change by using our own influence to empower those around us. As we become allies, we actually grow stronger — personally and collectively. A vision that is shared can finally become tangible, and an inspiration to so many.” — Jennifer Weil
Nell Diamond, founder and CEO, Hill House Home
Nell Diamond, the 35-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Hill House Home, runs a company that’s been showing aggressive growth since it was launched in 2016.
Well known for its Nap Dress, which became a sensation during the pandemic, the brand has expanded meaningfully into new categories, including footwear and outerwear, and started opening stores. Hill House Home operates three retail stores in Rockefeller Center, New York, Nantucket and Palm Beach, and a Charleston store will open later this year.
Hill House Home has many styles that have sold out quickly, and several from its summer drop with 23 new silhouettes were gone within minutes, ultimately generating the collection $5.3 million in sales within a week of launch.
The company has been on a tear launching additional product categories. It launched a bridal capsule, expanded event dressing options, and added technical puffer jackets, swimwear and shoes. Hill House Home, which started as a direct-to-consumer business, launched an exclusive collaboration with Net-a-porter this summer, and has increased its wholesale presence with retailers such Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-a-porter and Shopbop. Hill House Home also launched in the U.K. in May.
Diamond is a mother of three, with a son and set of boy-girl twins who were born during the pandemic. She has an undergraduate degree from Princeton and an MBA from the Yale School of Management and was previously a fixed income analyst at Deutsche Bank.
Diamond told WWD the most important way for women to use their power is “authentically and without any apologies. For me it happened over time — at first I was embarrassed when I stepped into a more true version of myself.…I was always worried I was too girly, too cringe, too weird. Now I have found freedom in figuring out what makes me feel like the truest version of myself, and I aim to embrace that every day. The most powerful thing a woman can do is to be unapologetically herself.” — Lisa Lockwood
Mary Dillon, president and CEO, Foot Locker Inc.
When Mary Dillon was tapped as Foot Locker’s new chief executive officer last fall, insiders immediately cheered the choice. After all, Dillon transformed Ulta Beauty from a regional player into a national powerhouse, leading a period of incredible growth at the beauty retailer during her eight years at the helm.
The executive hasn’t wasted any time at Foot Locker, quickly revitalizing the chain’s all-important relationship with Nike, and bolstering partnerships with key growth brands like Hoka and On Holding. Amid a period of stagnation across the athletic industry and a highly promotional environment — Foot Locker and many other retailers had a rough start to the year — Dillon is focused on closing unprofitable stores and cementing the retailer’s place at the center of sneaker culture. She’s also overhauling the company’s executive ranks — and bringing other powerful female leaders on board, including Nike vet Blanca Gonzalez, who was recently hired to lead the WSS chain.
“Women in leadership can use their position to uplift other women and the voices of other underrepresented groups to create inclusive and supportive environments — especially in the workplace,” Dillon said. “At various points throughout my career journey, I’ve recognized the value of representation and diverse perspectives, and have ensured that this is reflected across all levels of my leadership teams and boards. By empowering these voices, we can uncover incredible viewpoints and creativity we might otherwise not have, positively impacting the success and culture of entire companies.” — Katie Abel
Angela Dong, vice president of Nike Inc. and general manager of Nike Greater China
Resilient, determined, creative: Angela Dong has been a formidable force at Nike, adeptly navigating intense change and challenge across the critical China market during a prolonged pandemic lockdown. Through it all, the leader — who has headed up the greater China business since 2015 — stayed focused by doubling down on hyper-local initiatives to bolster Nike’s relationships with consumers and retailers. Last year, for example, the brand opened its Nike Style retail concept in Shanghai, expanded its partnership with Tmall and debuted the China Technology Center in Shenzen. With sourcing and supply chain issues topping the agenda for every company, Nike also built a new logistics center under Dong’s direction. With COVID-19 recovery now in full swing, the greater China market posted a 25 percent revenue increase in the fourth quarter, and market watchers are bullish on the prospects for the months ahead.
Outside of her business prowess, Dong is known has a caring leader who puts her team first. “As women, the most important way for us to use our power is to uplift and support one another,” Dong said. “We should foster a culture of collaboration and empowerment, where we amplify each other’s voices and celebrate each other’s successes. At Nike, we are deeply committed to cultivating a working environment focused on diversity, equity and inclusiveness. No matter where we come from, the love of sport unites us, and it is this shared passion that brings us together.” — Katie Abel
Gina Drosos, CEO, Signet Jewelers
Gina Drosos is chief executive officer of Signet Jewelers, considered the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry. Signet banners include Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, Banter by Piercing Pagoda, Diamonds Direct, Blue Nile, James Allen, Rocksbox, Peoples Jewellers, H. Samuel and Ernest Jones.
Called transformative and credited with building a diverse senior team, Drosos was appointed Signet CEO in July 2017 and has served on Signet’s board since 2012. Under her leadership, the company’s market capitalization grew from less than $1 billion at the start of the pandemic to about $3 billion today.
“It’s incumbent on women leaders to ‘lift as we climb.’ We must prioritize diversity in leadership roles, mentor top talent, and ensure that diverse candidates have growth opportunities throughout the company, particularly in crucial roles,” Drosos said, when asked what’s the most important way she can use her power. “In my experience, diversity is a powerful business strategy and driver of results. Diverse teams see 360 degrees, identify new opportunities faster, move with heightened agility, and are less likely to become complacent. Fresh perspectives are key to innovation. At Signet, our DE&I [diversity, equity and inclusion] strategy aligns with our business strategy and corporate sustainability goals. I’m personally involved in creating a deep bench of diverse talent by driving a positive and inclusive culture and empowering our team members with the tools they need to be successful.”
Drosos has more than 30 years of executive leadership experience in the consumer goods, beauty and health care industries, as well as retail. Her résumé boasts time leading Assurex Health, as well as 25 years at Procter & Gamble, where she built multibillion-dollar brands and reinvented global categories. As P&G group president, global beauty, she led a $12 billion plus operation with a portfolio of more than 20 brands.
Drosos serves on boards at Foot Locker, the Akron Children’s Hospital board and has long supported purpose-driven organizations, including her role on Back2Back Ministries, and Cosmetic Executive Women. — David Moin
Alix Earle, content creator
She’s the “It” girl heard around the world. Over the last year, 22-year-old Alix Earle has captivated TikTok audiences with her lively personality and beauty prowess, even causing products — like Mielle Organics’ Rosemary Mint Hair Oil — to sell out within mere hours of featuring them in her videos. The recent University of Miami graduate counts more than 5.6 million followers on TikTok and has inked deals with companies including Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, GrubHub and Tarte Cosmetics, to name a few.
Among her rarest feats, though, is meeting Gen Z’s appetite for content that is authentic and aspirational: Earle’s signature “Get Ready With Me” videos sometimes take place in her familiar, messy-in-a-loved-way bedroom, and other times in the Hamptons en route to Michael Rubin’s star-studded White Party.
The social media darling has long been open about her struggle with cystic acne, using her platform to discuss the challenges she’s endured in her own self-confidence journey and subsequently making her followers feel a little less lonesome in dealing with their own.
“I believe the most important way for women to use their power is by empowering other women,” said Earle, who recently established a scholarship at her alma mater. “It’s important to remember somebody else’s success doesn’t take away from your own, and we should all surround ourselves with people who lift us up. By doing that, competition turns into collaboration where there’s no limit to what we can all accomplish.” — Noor Lobad
Silvia Venturini Fendi, artistic director of accessories and menswear at Fendi
A member of the third generation of the Fendi family, from 1992 until 2019, Silvia Venturini Fendi flanked the late Karl Lagerfeld in artistic direction and has been, since 1994, in charge of the accessories and menswear collections. She revived the tradition of Roman master saddlers with her 1994 Selleria line, characterized by handmade stitching. In 1997 she conceived the cult Baguette bag, and in 2009 launched the Peekaboo bag.
Since 2010, she has been the president of AltaRoma, and has been instrumental in promoting fashion in the city of Rome. She has also promoted initiatives to support artisans and craftsmanship.
In 2020 she staged the first “Hand in Hand” exhibition, calling upon an array of artisans to interpret the Baguette bag by applying their local crafts. “Above all, sustainability is about human commitment, transparency and civil respect,” she has said. Venturini Fendi is also particularly tuned in to the arts, and over the years has teamed with architects and designers from Sara Coleman to Cristina Celestino or Chris Wolston and Oscar Wang, on collections for the brand’s home line, partnering with Design Miami.
Fendi has also helped restore several landmarks in Rome, from the Trevi Fountain to the Palazzo della Civiltà, where the brand is headquartered.
In June, the designer paid tribute to the company’s artisans and Fendi’s handiwork by staging its men’s spring 2024 collection at its factory in Capannuccia, Bagno a Ripoli, a 30-minute drive from Florence, as this season’s Pitti Uomo special guest, decamping from Milan, where it usually shows. For the occasion, she invited celebrated architect Kengo Kuma to chip in and select an artisan to rework the Peekaboo design.
“I believe softer forms of power should prevail over patriarchal methods,” Fendi said, asked how she thought women should use their power. “Women should advocate for themselves, support one another, and lead by example through empathy, inclusivity and equality — values that are crucial today.” — Luisa Zargani
Mandy Fields, CFO, E.l.f. Beauty
Mandy Fields joined E.l.f. Beauty in 2019 as senior vice president and chief financial officer, and since then the beauty company has been flying high, with quarter after quarter of growth.
Fields came to E.l.f. with more than 16 years of finance experience, most recently as the CFO of BevMo, the West Coast alcoholic beverages retailer. Prior to that, she held positions at grocery company Albertsons Companies, and The Gap, where she began her retail finance career after working in equity capital markets at J.P. Morgan.
“Inspiring the next generation and others to own their careers, their destinies and their dreams is one of the most meaningful ways women in leadership can use their power,” said Fields. “I find the most heartful moments are when I inspire others to embrace their true (s)e.l.f., talents and passions, and I believe blending them together can lead to extraordinary success.”
Fields discovered her true passions early, budgeting and making financial decisions with her mom as a little girl. “Discovering that there’s an actual career in which you can do that on a large scale and influence the direction of a company was magic for me. Becoming a CFO was my destiny. That was my dream for myself, and I encountered people along the way that told me that was not going to be for me — not on my timeline, not in my way,” she continued. “I became CFO at 35 years old, when many told me it would take me well into my 60s to achieve it. I am now CFO of a $6 billion company, and seeing the success which I worked so hard to achieve. I made my aspirations a reality, and I hope that with my leadership influence, I can blaze the trail for others and inspire future leaders to find their unique superpowers.” — Kathryn Hopkins
Michelle Gass, president, Levi Strauss & Co.
There’s a small club of women who have led one of the large, publicly traded fashion companies.
And Michelle Gass is about to have her membership card stamped twice.
Gass spent nearly a decade at Kohl’s Corp. and rose to become chief executive officer, steering the company through the pandemic and inking a crucial deal with Sephora.
Now, she is set to reprise that role at Levi Strauss & Co., where she is president and set to take over from CEO Chip Bergh by next summer.
It’s another high-profile perch that will allow her be an advocate and C-suite role model.
“When thinking about power, the most impactful thing a leader can do is give it away,” Gass told WWD. “Empower those around you. Seek to understand. Create space for opportunities. When you elevate others, you actually become more influential. By fostering an environment where people feel seen, heard and valued, you’re not just building a team, you’re building leaders. And leaders will help your organization reach heights you could never attain alone.”
This year, Gass has been on an around-the-world trip — from Levi’s headquarters in San Francisco to London, Paris, Barcelona and beyond as she both learns the business and steers the company’s flagship brand and its digital and commercial operations.
She likes what Bergh built over the last 12 years at Levi’s and is looking to “accelerate” the business, she said in her first interview at Levi’s.
While Gass sees potential all over at the denim company, one area she has zeroed in on early in her tenure is e-commerce. “There is a lot of upside in that business,” she said. “And whether that is the loyalty program, the app — I mean, in my prior two lives, I’ve seen the power of both of those things.” — Evan Clark
Raissa Gerona, chief brand officer, Revolve
Raissa Gerona is arguably the face of Revolve.
A fixture in Los Angeles, the chief brand officer has been spearheading Revolve Group’s marketing strategy. She was a key player in the company’s 2019 initial public offering, scoring a $1.23 billion valuation, alongside founders and co-chief executive officers Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas.
Gerona is an early adapter of influencer marketing, utilizing the power of content creation. She’s behind two major events hosted by the L.A.-based e-commerce company, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary: Revolve Around the World, the international trips taken with influencer partners (which headed to Mexico City this year), and Revolve Festival at Coachella, the massive music production with big-name headliners.
Along with managing the events, she heads Revolve’s brand collaborations, working with the likes of Aimee Song, Remi Bader, Camila Coelho, Elsa Hosk, Chrissy Teigen and Nicole Richie, while overseeing marketing for more than 20 Revolve-owned brands.
She’s created an endeavor of her own with Alliance Apparel, a fashion design and production company she cofounded that was acquired by Revolve in 2014. Lovers + Friends, which she launched in 2010, is among the brands in its portfolio.
Born in the Philippines, Gerona emigrated to California with her family at the age of 7. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from UC Irvine, and joined Revolve in 2010 before becoming chief business officer in 2014.
Gerona continues to keep both Revolve and Forward, its sister site dedicated to luxury fashion, on the minds of Millennial and Gen Z shoppers as she goes on to build brand awareness, drive traffic and sales through events, savvy campaigns and collaborations in person and on social media.
And she’s passing it forward; Gerona most recently joined the board of Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women navigating through economic, gender and social barriers. “The most important way for women to use their power is to help other women, empowering and uplifting one another. Always remember that we are on the same team and that we’re stronger and better together,” she said. — Ryma Chikhoune
Selena Gomez, recording artist, producer, philanthropist and founder, Rare Beauty
Selena Gomez is a force.
She’s a Hollywood star — from her early days as a child actor to acting-producing in the Hulu hit “Only Murders in the Building” — a pop star topping charts, and an entrepreneur as the founder of Rare Beauty, a brand that has been promoting individuality, inclusivity and supporting mental health initiatives.
Rare Beauty has seen strong sales, with its blush taking off on TikTok.
Born in Texas, 31-year-old Gomez’s career began at just 10 years old on the television show “Barney & Friends.” She rose to fame as a teenager playing protagonist Alex Russo on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Among her early film credits is Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers,” which she shot at 19. A year later she launched her solo music career, and has since become a multiplatinum recording artist with countless hits, from “Come & Get It” to “Lose You to Love Me.”
Through her production company July Moon Productions, Gomez has executive produced Netflix’s series “13 Reasons Why,” documentary “Living Undocumented” and — during the pandemic in 2020 — the delightful cooking show “Selena + Chef” on HBO Max.
She showed the public a more personal side of herself on the Apple TV+ documentary “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” sharing her journey with fame, lupus and mental health. The film, up for an Emmy this year for Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program, is an example of how Gomez has used her limelight for positive impact, unafraid to be vulnerable to help open dialogue.
A philanthropist, she has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2009. She has helped raise awareness on causes and funds for those in need, often working with children and women. Among her endeavors is “Wondermind,” a mental health media platform. And with the Rare Impact Fund, created in 2020, the same year her beauty brand launched, she’s been helping young people gain access to mental health resources, with 1 percent of annual sales of Rare Beauty products going toward the fund. She aims to raise $100 million by 2030.
“The most important thing we can do is quite simple. We need to empower other women, show up for each other and support,” Gomez said. — Ryma Chikhoune
Felecia Hatcher, CEO, Black Ambition
Over the past eight years, Felecia Hatcher has helped entrepreneurs gain access to more than $100 million in funding. That includes her work at Black Ambition, Pharrell Williams’ nonprofit organization, of which she has been chief executive officer since 2021. The organization works to empower Black and Latin entrepreneurs, and since its inception in 2020, has hosted a competition to provide mentorship, resources, connections and up to $3 million in funding to founders innovating in consumer products and services, media and entertainment, health care, technology and Web 3.0 industries.
Previously, Hatcher cofounded the Black Tech Week conference and the Center for Black Innovation. She has also had stints as a marketing executive for the Minnesota Lynx/Timberwolves, and as an experiential marketing/brand manager for Sony, Nintendo and McKee Foods. She serves on the Amazon Black Business Accelerator Advisory Board, SXSW Diversity Advisory Board, Beacon Council Board, Center for Black Innovation and Airie Foundation.
“The most important way for women to use their power is to first define who they are uninterrupted and then use their uninterrupted pathway to build more income so they can invest, influence so they have leverage and most importantly impact so they can use their power to change the world,” she said. — Kathryn Hopkins
Scarlett Johansson, founder and chair, The Outset, and Kate Foster Lengyel, cofounder and CEO, The Outset
After a hugely successful acting career, including two Oscar nominations and years as an ambassador for beauty brands, Scarlett Johansson is adding beauty founder to her résumé with the launch of her skin care brand the Outset.
The clean skin care line initially launched with five products meant to reflect Johansson’s own minimal skin care routine and drew inspiration from French pharmacy staples. In April 2022, the Outset entered all Sephora doors in the U.S.
Johansson, who runs the company with chief executive officer Kate Foster Lengyel, believes the most important way for women to use their power is to set new standards for income equality, she said.
“Easier said than done, right? But by using your power to have equal credit and pay for services rendered, etc., you are raising the bar for others to demand and receive the same. There is much power in numbers, on every level,” she added.
Foster Lengyel is a beauty industry veteran who has worked in the beauty divisions of Victoria’s Secret and Juicy Couture. She later founded SwearBy, a digital platform for word-of-mouth recommendations designed to crowdsource and share products that women “swear by” based on their personal experiences that was acquired by Meredith Corp in 2020.
“Women can empower more women by sharing their knowledge,” Foster Lengyel said. “By teaching, mentoring and collaborating, we can light the path for others and cultivate a cycle of support that accelerates growth and opportunity.” — Kathryn Hopkins
Jennie Kim, singer, Blackpink
Jennie Kim — better known by her first name as one of the members of K-pop supergroup Blackpink — has long been a fashion powerhouse as one of Karl Lagerfeld’s last handpicked Chanel muses, and more recently as the face of Calvin Klein.
This year, she cemented her creative street cred by designing her first CK collaboration, which made its debut in May. The capsule of denim, essentials and knitwear with a ’90s bent crashed the brand’s site and sold out in minutes. Her single post about the collection topped $2.1 million in media impact value, according to data from Launchmetrics, while her campaign for the brand generated $6.8 million in MIV.
Kim debuted two Chanel campaigns this year, with Coco Crush fine jewelry kicking off in January and the Chanel 22 bag in March, and her Paris Fashion Week appearance generated $4.5 million in MIV alone — 17 percent of the total for Chanel’s February show.
She made her Met Gala debut in May wearing a recreation of a vintage Lagerfeld look, and followed that up with the Cannes red carpet for the premiere of HBO’s “The Idol,” which also marked her first acting role. That appearance dominated the film festival, as she topped Launchmetrics MIV list, with her appearance generating $1.9 million in MIV.
That’s all to say she’s brand powerhouse that transcends genres. “I like to be versatile. Inspirations change all the time. I’m a fan of the ’80s, ’90s, ’70s, everything,” she told WWD backstage at the Chanel Paris Fashion Week show. “What I do back home is not pinpointed at one thing. We are all about creating a visual that goes with the song and what I wear has to harmonize, so everything comes into play for me.”
Kim notes that confidence is key. “Women can be powerful by knowing that their voice matters and knowing their own worth. Especially in an industry like mine, being confident in what I believe in is very important. When we’re free to be creative and go for what we want, that’s how we can be powerful!” — Rhonda Richford
Jane Lauder, executive vice president of enterprise marketing and chief data officer, the Estée Lauder Cos.
After 23 years of working her way up through the ranks of the company, Jane Lauder moved into the Estée Lauder Cos.’ C-suite in 2020, when she was appointed executive vice president of enterprise marketing and chief data officer. In this role, Lauder leads myriad groups, including global corporate marketing, business insight and analytics, and marketing and consumer-supported technology.
Those are all areas the company is leaning on as it looks to position itself for the future.
Lauder’s remit includes deepening investments in talent management, recruitment and capabilities within the marketing and engagement teams. She has spent more than 25 years at the business, including as global brand president of Clinique, where she led the transformation of brand strategy, distribution, product innovation and consumer reach, positioning the brand for strong long-term growth.
In addition to her work at the Estée Lauder Cos., she is a member of the board of Eventbrite, a California-based global ticketing and event technology platform.
She said: “I am fortunate enough to help lead a company that was founded by my grandmother, a very powerful woman, who was known for saying, ‘tel-a-phone, tel-a-graph, tel-a-woman.’ Estée knew the power of women’s voices. Today, I am determined to use my position to elevate the diverse voices of our women employees, partners and consumers to continue striving toward gender equality.” — Kathryn Hopkins
Barbara Lavernos, L’Oréal deputy CEO in charge of research, innovation and technology
Since stepping into the new role of L’Oréal deputy chief executive officer in charge of research, innovation and technology in May 2021, Barbara Lavernos has been helping the world’s largest beauty company trail-blaze the future of beauty. Under her purview, L’Oréal has ramped up partnerships with technology developers and open innovation. The company has expanded its reach in the green sciences arena, including a dive into biotech. In June, for instance, via its BOLD venture capital fund, the group took a minority stake in U.S.-based biotech start-up Debut, specializing in cell-free ingredient manufacturing.
L’Oréal’s focus on technology is allowing it to enable “beauty for all and beauty for each” — a new tag line focused on ultra-personalization and nodding toward a more diverse, inclusive beauty sector. E-commerce generated 28 percent of company sales in 2022.
L’Oréal recently shifted its broader focus toward tech under Lavernos, now employing 5,900 people in digital-related positions, and has been buying in through acquisitions and investments, such as in January, when it took a stake in metaverse developer Digital Village.
Lavernos, who also sits on the board of Sanofi, has said to stay ahead, L’Oréal needs in-depth expertise in various fields to fight through what she calls “toys and noise” and deliver real benefits. She is helping the group in its aim to turn initiatives into tangible market solutions related to consumer needs, tensions and expectations. There is, for instance, the Hapta device to help people with disabilities apply makeup, from L’Oréal’s Lancôme brand.
Lavernos’ philosophy for how women best use their power is “by not confusing authority with power,” she explained. “The power to impact lies in the ability to have a deep belief in yourself, while staying true to your own values. That’s what gives you the real power to engage and propel people in a collective ambition.” — Jennifer Weil
Pascale Lepoivre, CEO, Loewe
Loewe’s inexorable rise over the last decade has been mainly attributed to the skill of its creative director Jonathan Anderson. But for much of his tenure, the brand has been run by a woman.
Pascale Lepoivre, chief executive officer of Loewe since 2016, doesn’t court the limelight. Her name rarely comes up in parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s results conference calls. Instead, her track record speaks for itself.
“For me, it’s most important that women know our worth and the tremendous value we bring to the table. In all arenas of life and business, women play crucial roles as organization builders and leaders — I think it’s essential to be aware of this power and the momentous opportunities that it can create,” Lepoivre said.
Recently, Loewe took the top spot on Lyst Index’s hottest brands list for the first time, having climbed 13 places in the last year. The global fashion shopping platform reported a 19 percent jump in searches in the second quarter for the maker of Puzzle bags and Anagram tank tops.
“In the attention economy, with brands fighting for relevance and front-of-mind, Loewe’s commitment to craftsmanship has succeeded in capturing the imagination of different cohorts of customers, driving brand heat that’s backed up by surging demand and sales for hero products online,” it said.
In addition, Loewe was the only Spanish brand to be featured on consultancy Brand Finance’s annual “Luxury and Premium 50” list of most valuable brands, moving up to the 31st position in 2023 from number 34 the prior year.
Lepoivre, who joined LVMH in 1995, has helped the brand strike a balance between a rarefied cultural aura, exemplified by its annual Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, and popular appeal, with brand ambassadors including K-pop star Taeyong.
A graduate of business school HEC Paris and INSEAD, the executive cut her chops at Louis Vuitton and later at Celine, where she held the position of executive vice president and helped orchestrate the brand’s spectacular turnaround under then-creative director Phoebe Philo.
Lepoivre’s quiet magic promises to establish Loewe firmly in the ranks of LVMH big hitters. While the luxury group does not break out brand revenues, the 2-billion-euro mark can’t be far off. — Joelle Diderich
Stephanie Linnartz, president and CEO, Under Armour
Stephanie Linnartz has created quite the stir since joining Under Armour as president and chief executive officer in February. A 25-year veteran of Marriott International, Linnartz has made bold moves, shaking up the C-suite and putting Wall Street on notice that over the next three years, she will be laser-focused on what she sees as priorities for her new company. When she started, she joined a small list of women CEOs at publicly traded companies.
She calls her strategy for Under Armour Protect This House 3, and it is centered around raising awareness of the Under Armour brand, delivering elevated designs and products to boost U.S. sales and maintaining the company’s positive momentum overseas.
To achieve those goals, she has surrounded herself with a new team, including Jim Dausch, another veteran of Marriott, who was named executive vice president and chief consumer officer, and is searching for a new chief product officer after Lisa Collier exited the company in August.
Linnartz, a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross with an MBA from William & Mary, said she believes achieving balance in the workplace is the best way to develop future leaders.
“My approach is centered on developing leaders who will foster a consistent and sustainable culture over time,” she said. “A strong culture based on transparent communication, relationship building and problem-solving is essential in creating an inclusive environment where diversity of gender, ethnicity, religion, age, and therefore, opinion thrives. There are leaders at every level, and great ideas can come from anyone. Who comes to the table, how teams come together in terms of strategic and tactical execution, and the leadership ‘hands’ that guide forward progress must have mutual respect and be aligned with a company’s purpose.”
Equally important to professional success, she believes, is to develop “emotional intelligence.” “Leaders capable of interpreting emotions and synthesizing a teammate’s whole experience, including their industry expertise, individual background and personal life, inspire a strong community that drives consistent productivity.” — Jean E. Palmieri
Alison Loehnis, interim CEO, Yoox Net-a-porter
Alison Loehnis has been at the sharp end of digital fashion almost since its inception.
After cutting her creative and commercial teeth at companies as diverse as Thomas Pink and The Walt Disney Co., Loehnis joined Net-a-porter in 2007 as vice president of sales and marketing, rising to the role of president in 2011.
She worked behind the scenes, spearheading some of the site’s biggest projects. She headed the development of Mr Porter in 2011, and played a key role in the launch of The Outnet, the group’s discount site.
She rose to the position of president of Net-a-porter, Mr Porter and The Outnet, working with Yoox founder Federico Marchetti when he was chief executive officer of Yoox Net-a-porter Group, which is owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont. During that time she introduced new categories and expanded the group’s markets.
In October, Yoox Net-a-porter Group named her interim CEO, succeeding Geoffroy Lefebvre, who left the company to pursue an entrepreneurial career in a private company.
As part of her new role, Loehnis will helm YNAP until the completion of its sale to Farfetch and Mohamed Alabbar, which is expected to complete by the end of 2023. A new external CEO will then be appointed.
Jérôme Lambert, CEO of Richemont, described her as “a passionate leader who will continue to lead the company and her talented team” in the new phase of the business.
Loehnis believes the most important way for women to use their power “is to lead by example — ambition and kindness are not mutually exclusive. Be generous with your time in cultivating and supporting the next generation of leaders and change-makers,” she said. — Samantha Conti
Denise Magid, Bloomingdale’s chief merchant
Denise Magid is a merchant’s merchant. She began her retail career in the Lord & Taylor executive training program, joined Saks Fifth Avenue in 2003 as the buyer of day and evening dresses and progressed in successive merchandising roles, ultimately becoming senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s ready-to-wear, outerwear, dresses, private label and kids. In that role, Magid led the team through an integration following the acquisition by Hudson’s Bay Co. She introduced the first concession model in contemporary sportswear and focused the business on core and emerging brands.
In 2015, she became chief merchant for Intermix and in mid-2016 left to start her consulting company, DVMagid Consulting, where she gained critical wholesale experience and became deeply involved in product development and go-to-market strategies.
In January 2019, Magid joined Bloomingdale’s as GMM of rtw, bloomingdales.com and concessions, subsequently adding responsibilities for outlets and center core.
In 2023, Magid was promoted to chief merchant, the first person to be given that title in the company’s history. “I believe as a leader, especially as a female, it is important to develop, empower and nurture talent. Encouraging the next generation to be curious and think in new ways is an integral part of the role,” Magid said. “One of the main highlights of my career has been feeling like I have made a positive impact on the future success of others. I am most proud to see the growth of those who have worked for me and love watching them ascend to new heights.”
At Bloomingdale’s, Magid has focused on expanding the luxury and advanced businesses and refining the curation and assortment architecture strategies. She is a graduate of New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and holds a Bachelor of Science in finance and marketing. Magid lives with her husband Micha, and children, Gemma and Luca, in New York City. — David Moin
Carly Mark, designer, Puppets and Puppets
Puppets and Puppets began in 2018 as a sculptural project and has morphed into one of New York’s most exciting next-gen fashion brands. Fine-artist-turned-designer Carly Mark has explored heavy themes in her collections, including Nicole Kidman in the 1999 film “Eyes Wide Shut,” Dante’s “Inferno” and Gaspare Traversi’s 18th-century painting “The Operation” depicting Old World medical gore. But she balances them with quirky and sexy commercial pieces, such as her signature surrealist accessories with resin cookies and fried eggs affixed, and her fall collection full or corsetry and resin red roses. This year, she was a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund award finalist and a Fashion Trust U.S. winner, she launched pre-collections and she grew her retail stockist to 35 accounts, including Bergdorf Goodman and Selfridges.
It’s a busy time, but for Mark, boundaries are key.
“The most important way for women to use their power is by prioritizing ourselves and our boundaries. I’m a firm believer in putting yourself first while maintaining a sense of empathy and respect toward other people, a real superpower.” — Booth Moore
Leena Nair, Global CEO, Chanel
“Staying focused on the transformative power of creation and innovation” is how Leena Nair is leading Chanel and making sure it remains “a beacon of inspiration for the next 100 years,” she said.
Global chief executive officer of the French fashion company since January 2022, Nair recently told WWD the brand’s philosophy is “to stay focused on building our brand equity in each of the markets we operate in.”
By all accounts, the approach seems to be working: Chanel reported revenues jumped 17 percent last year to $17.2 billion, while operating profits rose 5.8 percent to nearly $5.8 billion.
A charismatic executive with a warm personal demeanor, Nair joined Chanel after working for 30 years at the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever, rising to the position of chief human resources officer.
That’s a helpful background for a fast-growing company like Chanel, which grew its headcount by 12 percent in 2022, adding about 3,600 people. This year, it plans to recruit more than 5,000 employees as it seeks to pursue the “ultimate luxury experience” for its worldwide clientele.
Chanel plans to expand its global headquarters in London and move its teams to a new building at 38 Berkeley Square by the end of 2025.
“With power comes influence and responsibility,” Nair told WWD. “What’s so important is to make it easier for those who come after you. I’ve always said ‘to lift as you climb’ so that others can follow in your footsteps.”
Nair was the first female, first Asian and youngest chief human resources officer ever of Unilever. She joined the company in 1992 as a management trainee of Hindustan Lever in India. By 2006 she had become general manager HR of Hindustan Lever.
In addition to her role at Chanel, Nair is a board member of the Leverhulme Trust, which offers scholarships for research and education. — Miles Socha
Carolina Arguelles Navas, head of AR enterprise product strategy and product marketing, Snap Inc.
As the helm of the teams at Snap leading the strategy and launch of its augmented reality enterprise products, development software and tech innovations in AI and ML, Carolina Arguelles Navas is, in many ways, the public face of Snapchat’s AR initiative — a top priority for the company, as it pursues realistic digital apparel try-ons. The potential impact of virtual try-ons on the fashion industry looks massive as a catalyst for igniting online sales, cutting return rates and fueling new levels of online customer experience and satisfaction. This is the promise that has innovators and tech giants alike, most recently Google, crowding the fashion AR field. But they’re jumping into a fray that has been home to Snap for years, as it has been steadily honing its AR technology. What started as entertaining, but somewhat cartoonish sombrero Lenses in Snapchat, has evolved into looks from some of the world’s most notable fashion designers and cosmetic companies, turning living rooms into personal runways and the selfie camera into a powerful tool for branding, commerce and community.
Navas, as part of the early team that helped the company scale its AR products, has played a pivotal role in this journey and continues to do so as its tools mature. In recent years, the company has introduced cloth simulation, body mesh and SnapML, and this year, alongside updates to Camera Kit, it also birthed the ARES division, short for augmented reality for enterprise services, and Shopping Suite, its first offering. Development isn’t just going forward, but expanding outward, busting AR beyond Snapchat’s walls and into partners’ own sites.
Brands all over the world that seek to understand these advancements, what they mean, how they work and how to implement the best practices will come to know and rely on Navas to break it all down. With a passion for helping people, businesses and developers succeed with technology — specifically Snap’s, of course — she has taken what could have been mere app updates or product rollouts and turned them into a new, cutting-edge identity for the platform. In doing that, she may very well come to define fashion AR for the long haul.
Navas contends that for women, emotions are a superpower.
“We are often told as women that we are ‘too emotional,’” she said. “But emotions are our most valuable asset — it’s a superpower. Emotion builds connection; it allows you to persuade, and to stand with conviction. Most importantly, emotions can inspire and empower those around you. As a Cuban American woman, who wears her passion on her sleeve, I’ll continue to lean into my emotions to inspire and lift those around me, just as I have been uplifted by powerful women throughout my life.” — Adriana Lee
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, designers, The Row
There’s a delicious irony to the fact that The Row, the pinnacle of fashion’s “quiet luxury” trend, was built by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, who spent their early years in the glare of the Hollywood spotlight. Founded in 2006, the American brand is giving European fashion houses a run for their money with its perfect, understated coats, tailoring, cashmere and logo-less accessories. Big-name celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, who has recently stepped out in the brand, and Brad Pitt are fans. Pitt told WWD, “I pick up a lot of things that are sold out and it turns out to be The Row. I have immense respect for what…[Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen] have done.” — Booth Moore
Jenna Ortega, actor
Nominated for an Emmy for lead actress in a comedy for her portrayal of Wednesday Addams in the Netflix hit “Wednesday,” Jenna Ortega was only the third Latina to be honored in the category following Rita Morena and America Ferrera, underscoring that the community is still vastly underrepresented in Hollywood. “[T]his was a character that was so legendary and so badass — it’s also the most well-known role I’ve ever taken, and [it was a chance to give] Latin representation to a character who has never really been shown in that light,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
On a more surface level, the 20-year-old’s black-and-white Gothic style has been influential to fans recreating it on TikTok, and to fashion brands like Adidas, which tapped her as the face of its first new label in 50 years, Adidas Sportswear. Ortega is lined up for “Beetlejuice 2” with Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder, scheduled to be out next year. — Booth Moore
Catherine Rénier, CEO, Jaeger-LeCoultre
When she arrived at the helm of Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2018, Catherine Rénier became the first female chief executive officer of a historic Swiss watchmaker.
In her eyes, “the most important way women can use their power is by remaining authentic to who they are,” she told WWD, adding that it meant “using your voice to empower others, having a sense of purpose, developing a deep sense of self-awareness, and not conforming even when it is challenging not to.”
“Showing up as your true self and cultivating a career which merges your passion and purpose to define your place in the world is powerful. It is only then that younger generations will be inspired and will understand the true strength of women in leadership,” she said.
Under Rénier’s tenure, Jaeger-LeCoultre has encouraged the intersection with artistic practices through its Made of Makers program; stepped up its effort to develop know-how and education with the inception of the Michelangelo Foundation Homo Faber fellowship program, the public-facing Atelier d’Antoine discovery workshops, and the creation of an apprenticeship workshop in its manufacture in Switzerland. The watchmaker also made inroads with transmission with the extension of its warranty to eight years and the 2023 launch of its vintage The Collectibles watch offer.
The French-born executive Rénier joined Jaeger-LeCoultre from Richemont-owned Van Cleef & Arpels, where she spent 15 years, including five as the house’s president for the Asia-Pacific region, and started her career in 1999 as retail development director at Cartier. — Lily Templeton
Shonda Rhimes, television producer, screenwriter and founder of production company Shondaland
One of Hollywood’s most influential creators, Shonda Rhimes has produced a spate of cultural phenomenons — “Greys Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “Bridgerton” and “Inventing Anna” among them — and inspired people through her work increasing representation on-screen. Costumes are another selling point for her shows, which have spawned trends like “Regencycore,” and brand collaborations with The Limited, Primark, Pat McGrath Labs and many more. Uzo Aduba is leading her next series, “The Residence,” a whodunnit set in the White House with “Scandal” costume designer Lyn Paolo on board.
Rhimes champions women who support women.
“The most important way for women to use their power is harnessing that power to uplift and empower other women. Opening a door and bringing someone else through with you is the most effective use of power.” — Booth Moore
Rihanna, singer, businesswoman, founder of Savage x Fenty and Fenty Beauty
With nine Grammys and 60 million albums sold, Rihanna is one of the most successful recording artists of all time. She’s also a cultural icon whose fresh take on pregnancy style — including crop tops, low-rise pants and sheer dresses — has modernized maternity fashion. Rihanna unveiled her second pregnancy on the Super Bowl Halftime stage in February, appearing in a red flight suit, breast plate and puffer coat, and whipping out a Fenty Beauty powder compact for a sly touch-up and advertisement for her cosmetics brand. Bringing it full circle, in August, the savvy businesswoman launched the Savage x Fenty maternity lingerie capsule collection. — Booth Moore
Monique Rodriguez, founder, Mielle Organics
Talk about starting 2023 with a bang: Mielle Organics, the hair care brand founded by Monique Rodriguez and husband Melvin in 2014, sold to Procter & Gamble Beauty earlier this year after its products became so popular it couldn’t keep some of them in stock.
It came on the heels of a viral surge in sales for its Rosemary Mint Scalp and Hair Strengthening Oil, a treatment that now boasts 278.8 million views for its accompanying hashtag on TikTok. At the time of the deal, Rodriguez said, “It’s really about access and availability to our products for our consumers. Black women, we understand have limited access to products in the textured hair care space and we wanted to be able to overserve our community with making sure that they can find Mielle products in their local store.”
As part of that deal, Mielle and P&G each promised $10 million to Mielle Cares, the brand’s nonprofit that offers support and resources for educational and economic opportunities in Black and brown communities.
“As an advocate for women’s empowerment, I believe the most important way for women to use their power is by unapologetically embracing their authenticity, supporting each other and challenging societal norms. Together, we can create a world where women’s power is celebrated and recognized,” Rodriguez said. “Every woman possesses a unique set of strengths, talents and perspectives that can make a profound impact on the world and inspire future generations to do the same.”
In line with that ethos, Mielle tapped college basketball star Angel Reese as its latest ambassador in May. “The confidence, boldness and resilience she embodies on and off the court are some of the qualities we look for when we choose brand ambassadors — she’s inspirational,” Rodriguez said at the time. — James Manso
Katerina Schneider, founder and CEO, Ritual
With Ritual, which launched in 2016, Katerina Schneider is working to create a vegan, clean and transparent supplement brand, a mission which started during her first pregnancy as she struggled to find suitable multivitamins.
With a focus on women’s health and supplement traceability driving Schneider, Ritual has acquired more than 1 million customers, shipped more than 10 million bottles of vitamins, secured key retail partnerships with Target and Whole Foods within the last year and amassed more than $100 million in net sales. Within the saturated supplement market, Ritual has made a name for itself with its traceability efforts. Consumers are able to trace each ingredient in terms of its benefits, where it’s sourced and how it’s supplied. Furthermore, Schneider is aiming to change the supplement landscape at large — the category is unregulated — by petitioning Congress with a guide to ensure products are safe and efficacious.
As a leader, Schneider believes it’s key to support women-led businesses to address the gender gaps in health care.
“The most important way for women to use their power is to empower other women to start businesses. Women’s health has been underserved because of a lack of funding and a lack of investment in clinical studies with female populations. We need more businesses focused on pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and other areas of women’s health that are underserved,” she said. “Supporting women during these key life stages is not only critical for improving health outcomes but also for the health of future generations.” — Emily Burns
Lucia Silvestri, Bulgari jewelry creative director
Lucia Silvestri is unique to the jewelry industry. She is not only creative director of Bulgari’s jewelry division, but also the company’s jewelry purchase director, picking and buying the gems she envisions in the brand’s pieces.
She was just 18 years old when she began her career in Bulgari’s gemmological department, leaving behind her biology studies as she fell in love with the world of precious stones. Nicola and Paolo Bulgari realized how passionate she was and saw her potential, so much so that they taught her the trade and at 20 she began to travel around the world — “from jungles to banks,” she says — meeting with the world’s foremost gemological experts. She was promoted to her current role in 2013, the first to hold that position at Bulgari. Trained by Paolo Bulgari, she learned that she should not buy a gem if she could not envision it placed in a piece.
Today, she continues to expand Bulgari’s jewelry collections, but notes that her early days negotiating for the stones were difficult. “I was very young, the only girl in a male-dominated world, which remains so, but I am very proud to be a woman so close to our suppliers, dealing with different cultures.”
She is known also for her ability to connect with the customers on an emotional level. Silvestri’s passion for the gems is contagious, and she admits she talks to them as she fondly places them on her gem table, looking at their sizes and colors, in her luminous office overlooking the Tiber in Rome, “playing with them,” and turning them into exquisite Bulgari jewels.
Silvestri says after many years, she feels it is important to use her power in the industry to help shape the market. “Thanks to the know-how and experience developed over the years, today I have the power to influence and direct the trends of the market. At first, dealers refused to do negotiations with me, and it took me many years of hard work, determination and a real passion for stones to earn their esteem and respect. I am proud today to have paved the way for many young women to even consider a career in a male dominated industry.” — Luisa Zargani
Montse Suarez, founder, managing partner at Iris Ventures
Investors tend to talk a lot about purpose, but Montse Suarez has taken things to the next level, investing in life-enhancing businesses that aim to solve day-to-day challenges, and that have a strong sense of culture and community.
Suarez is using her Iris Ventures fund to invest in purpose-led consumer brands and tech companies that support “healthier, happier and more convenient lives.”
Her aim with Iris is to invest in “the next generation” of brands that are “excelling in the intersection of community, branding, innovation and technology,” and to fill a gap in early-stage growth.
So far, she’s taken stakes in companies that couldn’t be more different, but have one thing in common: community, culture and life-enhancement.
She is an investor in Allyson Felix’s female-focused footwear brand Saysh; in Artemest, an online interior design platform that champions Italian artisans, and in Olistic, a wellness brand that treats hair loss and its causes.
One of her latest investments is in the Spanish food delivery start-up Vicio. Earlier this year, Iris teamed with footballers Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann on the multimillion euros investment in the fast-growing premium burger chain.
Suarez said founder-entrepreneurs operating at the intersection of community, branding, innovation and technology “shouldn’t have to compromise between a generalist tech fund and a local consumer fund.”
Investing and empowering entrepreneurs is her passion, and she believes other women can do the same.
“The most important way for women to use their power is to be true to themselves, understand their values and passions, and use their influence and abilities to make a positive impact in their own unique way,” said Suarez.
“By embracing our unique strengths and perspectives, we can contribute significantly to a more equitable and inclusive world, in my case, for example, by challenging traditional gender stereotypes in the venture capital industry, an industry traditionally dominated by men. I hope I can not only serve as role model and inspire others to pursue leadership positions within the industry, but also to support female entrepreneurs and help close the gender funding gap,” she added.
Suarez has more than 20 years of investing experience: She previously launched Walgreens Boots Alliance’s corporate venture fund, and cofounded the London-based fund Vaultier7.
She spent the first part of her career at Morgan Stanley advising on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets for retail, consumer, tech and luxury goods companies. — Samantha Conti
Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO, Copenhagen Fashion Week
A former communications director of the Global Fashion Agenda, Cecilie Thorsmark’s eyes have always been set on sustainability within fashion. She took the post of chief executive officer of Copenhagen Fashion Week in 2018 and has since cemented the Danish city as a leader in merging environmental solutions with creativity.
In January 2020, she laid out an ambitious plan to reinvent the fashion week by setting in place a three-year sustainability action plan, which now includes 18 mandatory rules that span six focus areas including: fur-free collections, zero-waste set designs and show productions, signing the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter and considering diversity and inclusivity when casting models.
“In these times of global unrest, inequality and climate crisis, the importance of women in power cannot be overstated. Female leaders can — if we are to embrace our role as catalysts for change — use our influence to inspire and empower other women to drive positive change,” said Thorsmark.
“Ultimately, it is through the collective efforts of all, and not least women in power, that we can pave the way for a more equitable and sustainable future for all,” she added. — Hikmat Mohammed
Charlotte Tilbury, founder, chairman, president and chief creative officer of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty
“I believe life is all about the magic of confidence and that is why I founded Charlotte Tilbury Beauty. When you feel confident, it unlocks your power for great potential, creates opportunity and can change your life,” said Charlotte Tilbury. “When we are able to unlock confidence, the power it brings is limitless. If one person is empowered, it creates a ripple effect and positive virtuous circle — meaning they can go on to change their community, and those communities could go on to change the world. That’s why I always say you have to: ‘Dare to dream it. Dare to believe it. Dare to do it,’ because we all have the power to give everyone, everywhere, the confidence to look and feel their best, and make dreams come true.”
Her philosophy has helped build the namesake brand into a veritable powerhouse. Makeup has been a key sales driver at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty’s parent company, Puig, and in 2022, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty was the number-one-ranking makeup brand in the U.K. and placed first at Sephora in the U.S.
The brand strengthened its business thanks to the iconic Pillow Talk color line, while offering technological innovations merging digital and reality. The label’s leading skin care product was Magic Cream, and the brand became an impressive force on TikTok.
Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, which signed Bella Hadid in March, was the number-one beauty brand by media impact value in the first quarter of 2023, according to Launchmetrics. It was the first-ranking makeup brand and third-placing skin care brand by MIV. To help celebrate Charlotte Tilbury’s 10th anniversary this year, the brand collaborated with Disney on a limited-edition skin care and cosmetics collection. — Jennifer Weil
Donatella Versace, chief creative officer of Versace
Donatella Versace, chief creative officer of Versace, has succeeded in carrying forward the brand after the murder of her brother Gianni in 1997. She was a muse to Gianni and worked with him since the founding of the brand in 1978, becoming head designer of Versus in 1994 and bravely taking up the baton as artistic director after the family tragedy. She further developed the brand around the world, building on its legacy, yet rendering it modern and attracting a new generation of customers, embodying the powerful woman she targets and support with her designs. In September 2018, Versace was sold to Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. — which changed its name to Capri Holdings — for $2.1 billion.
Curious about trends and pop culture, she has not only discovered and nurtured several young designers, from Jonathan Anderson to Anthony Vaccarello, but has continued to build the Versace brand in key lifestyle categories, from the home to fine jewelry, timepieces and fragrances.
She is very active on social media, has forged strong relations with the likes of Elton John, Madonna and Dua Lipa to name a few, has set up the Versace Foundation and has generously donated time and funds to charities supporting students, young designers and to fight AIDS. In June, the foundation revealed it was supporting the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Rocket Fund, making a five-year commitment to a new fundraising campaign in support of LGBTQIA+ communities. Donatella Versace was named co-chair of The Rocket Fund. Capri Holdings launched The Versace Foundation during Pride Month in June 2022. The company has pledged $10 million to further the foundation’s mission of fostering, promoting and supporting programs, projects and activities designed to generate awareness and support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Also, earlier this year, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Versace partnered on an educational initiative focused on an LGBTQIA+ program.
For Versace, the most important way for women to use their power is simple: “We must use our power to give others a voice, to lead inclusive and diverse businesses and of course to run the world!” — Luisa Zargani
Elena Velez, designer
Milwaukee, Wisconsin-born, New York-based Elena Velez is disrupting the fashion system with her nontraditional approach. She works with Midwestern makers and industrial remnants outside the established creative capitals, and is transparent around the financial struggles of being a young designer. In 2022, she won the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Emerging Designer of the Year Award, and her deconstructed corset dresses and workwear have been worn by Rosalía, Julia Fox, Solange Knowles and others. She’s been open on social media and in The New York Times about her struggle to turn buzz into commercial returns, and her future will say a lot about where American fashion goes from here.
Honesty is a big part of her ethos. “The most important way for women to use their power is in the perpetuation of honest and self-searching representations of ourselves; both in moments of achievement and shortcoming, to implore and inspire the next generation of powerful women,” Velez said. — Booth Moore
Serena Williams, tennis champion, entrepreneur, investor; founder, Serena Ventures and S by Serena
Since announcing last year that she would “evolve away from tennis,” Serena Williams has turned her attention to a number of professional pursuits — many of them dedicated to advancing women’s causes. The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who revealed at this year’s Met Gala that she was pregnant with her second child, has built a portfolio of more than 20 early-stage companies through her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures. The fund, which she started in 2017, focuses on investing in women and founders of color at a time when female start-ups continue to face huge financial hurdles.
Williams also aims to elevate women’s voices through Nine Two Six Productions, the multimedia production company she launched in April. Fashion has always been a passion for the designer, who debuted S by Serena, her clothing label, six years ago. She also has a stake in the jewelry business through Serena Williams Jewelry. — Katie Abel
Nina Yashar, founder, the Nilufar Gallery
Ever the catalyst of cross-cultural conversations, Milan-based art dealer, curator and gallerist Nina Yashar has played a major role in shaping Italy’s design scene.
Born in Tehran, the daughter of an Iranian antique carpet dealer has propelled key international creatives in the design world since launching her career in Milan decades ago. She has sealed the successful destiny of old and new visionaries by housing their creations under her roof. Over the past four decades, works from great designers including Gio Ponti, Alvar Aalto, Martino Gamper and Osanna Visconti have all passed through the doors of her galleries. With more than 300 objects on display at any time, her “living museum” is credited with chronicling the ongoing artistic era.
She said she defines the artistic age as “Contemporary Baroque, because there is a total openness to materials, colors and durability and there is an ample ratio with respect to the past and the present.”
Looking back in her inspirational career, she has this advice for future generations: “Silence is the truest demonstration of facts; words are often the preferred and easiest weapon of attack, and it’s easy to think that it is necessary to fight back using the same weapon. Oftentimes, I prefer to dedicate time to demonstrate with facts what I had intended to do.” — Sofia Celeste
Annie Young-Scrivner, CEO, Wella Co.
You wouldn’t guess that Annie Young-Scrivner was new to the beauty industry when in October 2020, KKR, fresh from acquiring 60 percent of Wella from Coty Inc., named her chief executive officer of the new stand-alone business, whose brands include Wella Professionals, Clairol, OPI, Nioxin and GHD.
Diving right in, she used her strengths in brand, digital and talent development to help Wella navigate a global pandemic that affected salons globally, and oversaw the acquisition of Briogeo, the popular natural hair care brand founded by Nancy Twine in 2013. Wella came in at number 22 on Beauty Inc’s Top 100 list, which ranks the biggest manufacturers in beauty, with more than $2 billion in sales.
Prior to Wella, Young-Scrivner spent three years as CEO of Godiva, seven years in a number of senior positions at Starbucks and began her career at PepsiCo where she held senior leadership roles in sales, marketing and general management during her 19-year tenure with the business.
Young-Scrivner is looking to pay her success and experience forward, and advises others to “Mentor, sponsor and develop the next generation of leaders. It gives me great pride to see the people I’ve developed go on to do great things with their careers.”
She added that diversity, equity and inclusion is a critical component of business success to her. “Achieving gender equity, especially in the boardroom, is one of my great passion points. Whether it’s on Wella Company’s board or the corporate boards I’ve had the privilege to serve on, I believe we all need to use our voice as power for impact where we have the opportunity.” — Kathryn Hopkins
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