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Top Fashion Executives to Inaugurate Guess Visiting Professorship

Industry Leaders from the Limited and J. Crew will Instruct Fashion-Minded Students

May 8, 2012

Christine Beauchamp and Tracy Gardner

Christine Beauchamp (above) and Tracy Gardner (below) will share the lessons they learned in the fashion industry as Guess Visiting Professors.

Contact: Joseph McLaughlin
(212) 992-7762

Two top fashion executives will bring a wealth of industry experience to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study as Guess Distinguished Visiting Professors in Fashion and Fashion Business.

Christine Beauchamp, who held senior-level positions for the Limited Brands from 2003 to 2007, including president and chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, will inaugurate the Guess Professorship this fall.

She will be followed in the spring semester by Tracy Gardner, who helped lead J. Crew from 2004 to 2010 and served as president of retail and direct during her last three years.

The chair was established earlier this year through a $2.5 million gift from the Guess Foundation and an additional $250,000 gift from the Maurice Marciano Family Foundation. It was created to teach students to fuse the creative side and the business side of fashion.

“A lot of college students have very creative minds and a vision for fashion, but are missing knowledge of the financial aspects of the industry,” said Maurice Marciano, founder and longtime senior executive at Guess, Inc. “Christine and Tracy are ideally suited to linking these integral elements of our business for NYU students.”

As part of their duties as chairholders, Beauchamp and Gardner will each teach a course at Gallatin and make at least one public presentation during their tenures. This may include giving a lecture, hosting a workshop or leading symposia on how to connect creativity, design and business.

“The Gallatin School has long explored ways to combine practice with classroom teaching,” said Susanne Wofford, Dean of NYU Gallatin. “I am excited about Christine and Tracy’s enthusiasm for undertaking this unique teaching challenge, and I believe they will give our students truly unmatched learning opportunities.”

In addition to her experience at the Limited Brands and guiding Ann Taylor as brand president from 2008 to 2012, Beauchamp has extensive experience in finance and consulting.

“She worked at Goldman, so she has the financial background. She worked at Boston Consulting, so she has the consulting background, and she has fashion sense, of course,” said Howard Socol, the former CEO of Barneys New York who served on the selection committee.

“Christine also has great strength in the teaching side,” Socol continued. “Some people are great at what they do, but don’t teach well. She has really thought about the class and came with great ideas about how she could approach it.”

He also noted that Beauchamp worked closely with fashion luminary Les Wexner, founder and chairman of the Limited Brands, whom she counts as a mentor.

“It is my great privilege to inaugurate the Guess Visiting Professorship and its innovative approach to teaching fashion business,” Beauchamp said. “I share the Gallatin School's passion for inspiring and developing the next generation of fashion leaders.

"I hope to offer these incredibly talented students a holistic understanding of this vibrant industry, and to underscore the critical importance of bridging creativity and commerce with elegance and precision,” she added.

Before Gardner arrived at J. Crew, she established her reputation at the Gap, Inc., where she was vice president and senior vice president of merchandising from 1999 to 2004. She returned to the company earlier this year as a creative adviser.

“I am inspired by the creativity and innovation of the Gallatin School,” Gardner said. “It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to share my passion and experience for an industry that celebrates and thrives on creativity and innovation. I look forward to working with the students of Gallatin, who will shape the future of our industry.”

A protégé of Mickey Drexler, a fashion industry visionary who revolutionized specialty retail, Gardner has exactly the skills and experience that will make the professorship meaningful to students, according to Marciano.

“In our industry, the people who understand the vision of the designers and can translate that into business success are called merchants,” Marciano said.

“The best merchants can focus the designers on understanding the brand and building a collection that really addresses the customer. Merchants have the skills to anticipate the needs of the customer and to give them what they want at the right time and in the right locations,” he continued.

“Tracy has a tremendous reputation in our industry as a great, great merchant. She really understands everything about the business and will make a tremendous impact on these students. She will be an inspiration to them.”

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