Introducing The Speakers

Conference speakers include business and creative leaders from international luxury and fashion brands, disrupters and innovators, industry observers, investors and visionaries. Please see below for more details. Remember to check back regularly as Suzy Menkes continues to update the speaker list, or contact us to ensure you are the first to be notified about new speakers.

Suzy Menkes

Editor, Vogue International Condé Nast International

Abrima Erwiah

Co-Founder Studio 189

Andrew Hunt

Co-Founder Aduna
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Suzy Menkes

Editor, Vogue International, Condé Nast International

Suzy Menkes is fashion’s leading authority. As Editor, Vogue International, her articles and reports appear on 24 international Vogue websites in 17 languages, reaching an audience of over 67 million. An enthusiast for social media, she has over 420,000 followers on Instagram.

Frank, fearless and free from editorial constraints, she has built a reputation for having a strong and independent point of view. To her worldwide audience she brings a deep knowledge, experience and love of fashion.

With an unswerving enthusiasm for her subject, she covers the universe of style, from haute couture to talent spotting and store openings. She regularly interviews leading designers and fashion executives in the luxury market.

Unique among fashion editors, Suzy – trained as a historian at Cambridge University in her native England – looks beyond the immediate trends to analyse changing style in a social context. Her incisive reporting includes financial news and reviews of museum exhibitions and the arts.

The luxury conference concept that Suzy invented almost two decades ago in 2001 while Fashion Editor of the International Herald Tribune, shows a breadth of vision and geographical reach that can only be deepened as she now hosts conferences for Condé Nast International.

Suzy is a recipient of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, where she holds the rank of Chevalier, and was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for “services to fashion journalism”.

In 2013, she was awarded the Fiorino d’Oro – the highest honour of the city of Florence – in recognition of her contribution to culture and arts in that city. Later that year she received a Special Recognition Award at the British Fashion Awards.

In 2014, she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women).

In 2015, Suzy received the keys to the city of Florence from Mayor Dario Nardella while hosting the first Condé Nast International Luxury Conference in the Palazzo Vecchio.

In 2016, Suzy was awarded honorary citizenship of the city of Seoul by Mayor Park Won-Soon while hosting the second edition of the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference.

In 2018, Suzy received the Visionary Award at the 2018 Green Carpet Fashion Awards hosted by Eco-Age and Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana in Milan.

Portrait of Suzy Menkes by Djinane Alsuwayeh.

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Abrima Erwiah

Co-Founder, Studio 189

Portrait of Abrima Erwiah by Joshua Jordan.

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Andrew Hunt

Co-Founder, Aduna

Andrew started his career in advertising before a radical life change took him to The Gambia, where he won a UN World Business & Development Award for his work with small-scale farmers.

In 2012 he co-founded Aduna, an Africa-inspired wellness brand, which brings global consumers the vitality of Africa’s natural ingredients, while creating sustainable incomes for rural households. The company has pioneered the market for the African superfoods baobab and moringa, and works in partnership with the UN to source directly from more than 1,000 women in Northern Ghana.

In recent years Aduna has been shortlisted for three Guardian Sustainable Business Awards, was a finalist in Virgin’s #VOOM competition, and won the UKBAA Social Impact Investment of the Year Award as well as two Great Taste Golds.

Andrew believes passionately in leveraging the power of markets to lift rural Africa out of poverty. He holds an MBA (distinction) from Saïd Business School – University of Oxford and speaks Wolof, the local language of The Gambia & Senegal.

Angelica Cheung

Editor in Chief Vogue China

Christopher Raeburn

Creative Director Christopher RÆBURN

Folake Coker

Founder and Creative Director Tiffany Amber
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Angelica Cheung

Editor in Chief, Vogue China

Upon joining Condé Nast China as the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue China in 2005, Angelica Cheung spearheaded the launch of the publication, and for the past thirteen years has led its growth to international acclaim.

From its inception, Vogue China’s combination of original creative content and global vision set a new benchmark for Chinese fashion publications. Whilst working closely with the world’s leading photographers, stylists, models and designers, Vogue China has also dedicated itself to supporting local Chinese talent and sustained efforts to bring the Chinese fashion industry to international prominence. Over the past thirteen years, featured models like Du Juan and Liu Wen have become top international supermodels, whilst many young and talented Chinese designers, through Vogue China’s promotion, have received recognition from international media. Led by Angelica, Vogue China has risen with unprecedented speed to become one of the biggest and most influential Vogue editions.

Constantly looking ahead, in 2016, Angelica introduced Vogue Me, a new bimonthly publication and digital platform targeted at the young, digitally active generation. In 2017, Vogue Film was launched to produce fashion films of exemplary quality through collaboration with leading creatives, merging the boundaries between fashion, film and print. At the beginning of 2018, Vogue Now became the newest member of the Vogue China family, a digital magazine combining photography, film, audio and text to highlight “of the moment” personalities through Vogue’s point of view. In addition, Angelica also oversees all digital platforms including the website, social media channels and the trendsetting mobile app Vogue Mini which launched in 2015, successfully introducing the brand to the next generation through digital media.

Angelica Cheung graduated from Beijing (Peking) University with degrees in Law and English Language and Literature, and has an MBA degree from the University of South Australia.

Before becoming Editor-in-Chief of Vogue China, Angelica was previously the Editorial Director of Elle China, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire Hong Kong, Associate Publisher of Hong Kong English-language fashion magazine B International, and the launch Executive Editor of English-language daily newspaper Hong Kong iMail.

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Christopher Raeburn

Creative Director, Christopher RÆBURN

Christopher Raeburn is a British fashion designer with a unique and innovative approach to creating menswear, womenswear, and accessories collections. A graduate of London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, Christopher became known for his re-appropriation of military fabrics and in particular for iconic outerwear created from de-commissioned parachutes. The ‘Re-made’ ethos still guides and influences every aspect of the Christopher Ræburn design and development process; a Christopher Ræburn product is defined by distinctive aesthetic, meticulous detail, considered functionality, and sustainable intelligence.

Christopher’s pioneering work has brought responsible design to a mainstream fashion audience, and presents a new definition of luxury with integrity.

 

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Folake Coker

Founder and Creative Director, Tiffany Amber

Folake Coker, Founder and Creative Director of Tiffany Amber, is the embodiment of the renaissance African currently defining a new contemporary Africa through fashion. Born in Lagos, educated in Switzerland, England and Scotland, Folake first entered the world of fashion in 1996, when she designed a collection for herself upon returning to Nigeria after law school in England. At that very moment, her love for fashion overpowered her will for legal practice, and she was convinced of her calling to be a fashion designer and entrepreneur, despite holding a degree in petroleum law.

In November 1998, Folake took the bold step of launching Tiffany Amber. In doing so, she revolutionised the Nigeria and African fashion industries, as the first domestic designer to introduce ready-to-wear on the African continent. She went on to have several other “firsts,” including being the first Africa-based designer to show at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week for two consecutive seasons in 2008. In 2009, Folake received the “Designer of the Year” award at the inaugural African Fashion Week (AFI) in Johannesburg. In 2012, Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, invited Folake to be part of the Fashion4Development Project, after meeting her in Lagos.

In 2013, Folake became the first African fashion designer to be featured on the Forbes Women Power List. Later that year, she received the “Enterprise Award” from Women Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE).

In 2014, Folake extended her brand universe by launching Tiffany Amber Living, strengthening the position of Tiffany Amber as a complete lifestyle brand. The home range captures the rich cultures of Africa and the sophistication of fine living. In celebration of her brand’s 15th anniversary, Folake launched the “Women of Vision” campaign as a platform to mentor a younger generation of creative entrepreneurs.

Twenty years on, Folake Coker remains one of the strongest fashion forces in Africa and beyond, as she continues to passionately expand her fashion empire to reach a global audience.

Greg Williams

Editor WIRED UK

Hanneli Rupert

Founder Okapi & Merchants On Long

Jean Paul Gaultier

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Greg Williams

Editor, WIRED UK

Greg Williams is Editor of WIRED UK and has spent the past two decades delivering award-winning work in London and New York.

He’s interested in understanding the trends, technologies and ideas that are shaping shaping the world and has interviewed numerous founders, investors and technologists, as well as leading figures, including Tony Blair, Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft), British Prime Minister Theresa May, Troy Carter (entertainment mogul/Lady Gaga’s former manager), and Federico Marchetti of YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP. Before WIRED UK, he was Executive Editor of Details.

He is responsible for WIRED UK’s annual guide to Europe’s hottest startups and annual trends briefing The WIRED World as well as curating WIRED events – recent guests have included Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Herman Narula, the founder of Improbable; the founders of DeepMind; the EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager; Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia; Niklas Zennstrom, the founder of Skype; former World Formula One Champion, Nico Rosberg; Lisa Randall, professor of physics, Harvard University; Mo Gawdat, Chief Business Officer for Google X; Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon; Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, the co-creators of Black Mirror, and Brian Fishman, Head of Counterterrorism for Facebook as well as specially curated sessions with the Royal College of Art and Serpentine Gallery.

He is the author of six novels, including the international best-seller, The Nero Decree.

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Hanneli Rupert

Founder, Okapi & Merchants On Long

Hanneli Rupert is the Founder of Okapi and Merchants On Long.

Merchants on Long is Africa’s first concept store, and houses the best of African design alongside in-house designer collaborations and Merchants’ very own lifestyle brand. A celebration of diverse Pan-African design, Merchants on Long serves as a platform of carefully curated luxury and handmade brands that are all sourced and made in Africa.

Okapi was created in 2008, with a view to being one of Africa’s first true luxury brands. Hanneli Rupert wanted to create a locally-produced range of products that would combine exceptional quality and craftsmanship with an international yet uniquely African look and feel. The brand is named after the elusive antelope otherwise known as the “African Unicorn.”

Okapi takes influence from an Art Nouveau aesthetic, magic, mysticism and reverence to nature. This design code comes to life in the products which aim to be understated and timeless, with form following function, whilst also unique and exotic with details such as Springbok horns to make them stand out. Everything is manufactured in Africa, and every element of an Okapi bag is entirely traceable, sustainable and ethically sourced.

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Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier was born in 1952 in a Paris suburb. He started his career with Pierre Cardin in 1970, on the day of his 18th birthday.

After working at Esterel, Patou and again at Cardin, Gaultier decided to start his own fashion house and staged his first show in Paris in 1976. Critical and commercial success followed quickly, and by the early eighties he was one of the most talked about young designers.

From the beginning of his career, Jean Paul Gaultier wanted to show that beauty has many facets and that we can find it where we least expect it – like in a lowly tin can, which first became a bracelet, and later the packaging for his hugely successful perfume.

His menswear was launched in 1984 with the “Male Object” collection, and in 1997 Gaultier has realised his dream of starting an haute couture collection, “Gaultier Paris”. He was also the designer for Hermès womenswear from 2004 to 2011.

 

Throughout his career Gaultier has worked in dance, music and the cinema. His costumes for Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour have left an indelible imprint on the popular culture.

His first collaboration in the cinema was with Peter Greeneway for “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” in 1989. He also designed costumes for “The City of Lost Children” by Caro and Jeunet, “Fifth Element” by Luc Besson and has worked three times with Pedro Almodovar on “Kika,” “Bad Education,” and “The Skin I live In.

Portrait of Jean Paul Gaultier by Gorka Postigo.

Jochen Zeitz

Co-Founder, The B Team Founder, Zeitz Foundation

Jonathan Newhouse

Chairman and Chief Executive Condé Nast International

Justine Schafer

Creative Director Cape Cobra Leathercraft
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Jochen Zeitz

Co-Founder, The B Team, Founder, Zeitz Foundation

Jochen Zeitz is recognised as one of the world’s leaders in sustainable business, conservation and philanthropy. After becoming the youngest CEO in German history at the age of 30, Zeitz served for 18 years as Chairman and CEO of PUMA. Zeitz turned PUMA from near-bankruptcy into one of the top three sporting goods brands in the world, growing sales to $4 Billion and share price by 4,000%. While at PUMA, Zeitz conceived and pioneered the ground-breaking Environmental Profit and Loss account (E P&L) that puts a monetary value on environmental impacts across a business’ supply chain, inspiring a new internationally-recognised environmentally and socially conscious business model. Zeitz retired from PUMA and the Kering Group in 2013 to focus on his environmental, sustainability and philanthropic projects.

In 2014, Zeitz co-founded The B Team with Sir Richard Branson, an initiative which includes 24 of the world’s top business leaders such as Professor Mohammed Yunus, President Mary Robinson, Mo Ibrahim, Paul Polman and Arianna Huffington, promoting socially and environmentally conscious business practices across the globe. Zeitz is also a Board Member of Harley Davidson, Cranemere, Wilderness, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and until recently he served as Board Member and Chair of the Sustainability Committee for Kering, the international luxury goods group for whom he developed its global sustainability strategy.

Following his life-long passion for Africa, Zeitz conserves 50,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Kenya and launched Segera Retreat in 2012, a completely sustainable, luxury eco-safari retreat so he could share his passion for Kenya with the world. Recognised by the Kenya Tourism Regulatory Authority as the only Five-Star safari lodge in Kenya, Segera has since become Africa’s “must-see” destination and is celebrated as one of Top 20 places to visit worldwide by international press including The New York Times and LA Times.

As Founder of the Zeitz Foundation, a non-profit organisation registered in Kenya and Germany which supports sustainable solutions that balance conservation, community, culture and commerce (the 4Cs), Zeitz has supported the building of six eco-sustainable schools (including the winner of LEED’s 2015 “Greenest School in the World” award) educating over 2,000 children, a soccer academy, an initiative for inter-tribal understanding and female empowerment, and provided hundreds of educational bursaries for Kenyan children.

In September 2017, along with his partners at the V&A Waterfront, Zeitz launched the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa. Zeitz MOCAA commits to preserving and exhibiting cutting-edge contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora, and houses the Zeitz Collection, considered to be one of the most significant contemporary African art collections in the world. Zeitz MOCAA opened to great acclaim and saw incredible numbers – over 70,000 people – in its opening month.

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Jonathan Newhouse

Chairman and Chief Executive, Condé Nast International

Jonathan Newhouse has been Chairman of Condé Nast International since 1991 and serves on the management board of Condé Nast US. He began his career in newspapers, including several years in the newsroom of the Staten Island Advance, before moving to the Condé Nast magazine organisation in America.

He served as Executive Vice President of The New Yorker in the mid-1980s and then Publisher of Details. In 1990 Mr. Newhouse moved to Paris as President of Condé Nast International. Under his direction the organisation expanded from fewer than 30 titles in seven countries to more than 120 in 28 markets.

Having established Vogue in China, Russia, Japan, India, Turkey and the Middle East, he has also expanded the company’s activities into digital, video, education, restaurants and events.

He is married to Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, a leading advertising creative director in the fashion industry.  He was honoured as an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters of France in 2008, and in 2017 was granted an honorary fellowship from Shenkar College in Tel Aviv, widely recognised as one of the leading fashion colleges in the world. Shenkar honoured him for his achievements and contribution to the fashion and publishing industries.

Portrait of Jonathan Newhouse by Mike Trow.

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Justine Schafer

Creative Director, Cape Cobra Leathercraft

Justine Schafer is a third generation member of the Cape Town-based family-run company, Cape Cobra Leathercraft.

Established in 1972, the company has since become the leading luxury exotic-leather goods producer in Africa. Justine joined the group nine years ago, following her completion of Fashion Design studies in Cape Town and at Parsons, New York. From time working in the family’s atelier, combined with her father’s guidance, she has since worked her way up the business ranks, now overseeing over 80 South African artisans. This collective experience deepened her understanding and appreciation for the meaning of luxury.

As Creative Director, Justine is committed to steering the brand into a sustainable future. Renowned internationally for their distinguished craftsmanship, Cape Cobra Leathercraft creates heirloom pieces for their long-held list of discerning clientele who can trust the origin of the materials being used.

Justine believes that luxury goods are integral to the conversation about sustainable fashion, while Cape Cobra Leathercraft is a passionate pioneer, building ethics, provenance and preservation into their brand philosophy.​

Laduma Ngxokolo

Founder and Designer MAXHOSA BY LADUMA

Lupo Lanzara

Deputy Chairman Accademia Costume & Moda

Marco Bizzarri

President and Chief Executive Officer Gucci
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Laduma Ngxokolo

Founder and Designer, MAXHOSA BY LADUMA

Laduma Ngxokolo is one of Africa’s finest, most innovative fashion designers, cultural icons and an innovative entrepreneur.

He has created a global fashion brand – MAXHOSA BY LADUMA – that has captured the hearts of fans in London, Paris, Milan, New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, Oslo, Cape Town and Johannesburg, where his designs have graced runways and been featured in numerous fashion editorials. He has also hit Japan where his designs are selling well. Beyonce raved on social media about MAXHOSA BY LADUMA’s designs after admiring them at an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

He holds a Masters in Material Futures from Central Saint Martins in London. He was awarded a WeTransfer Scholarship to undertake these studies.

Laduma grew up in the Eastern Cape where he drew inspiration from the traditions and arts of his native South African Xhosa culture. His creativity took flight as he re-imagined these cultural design elements as striking and elegant high-fashion statements. [Note: Xhosa is one of South Africa’s ethnic groups.]

Laduma started his MAXHOSA BY LADUMA design journey in 2010 when he starting looking into finding knitwear design solutions for Amakrwala (Xhosa initiates). Laduma is a descendent of the Mpondo clan and it was his own experience of the traditional initiation ritual that led to the development of his knitwear collection. As an individual who has undergone that right of passage, he felt he needed to develop knitwear that carries his Xhosa heritage aesthetics. He redesigned the traditional clothing worn for Amakrwala, as the trend was to wear styles of which some dated back to the 1800s. These styles did not resonate with modern, young men.

Amakrwala men are prescribed by tradition to dress up in dignified formal clothing for six months after initiation. His vision was to showcase the astonishing beauty of the Xhosa people, their cultural dress and beadwork embellishments and translate it in a modern way that actually appeals to the current youth that is influenced by international trends. And so, the MAXHOSA BY LADUMA aesthetic was created.

Portrait of Laduma Ngxokolo by Trevor Stuurman.

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Lupo Lanzara

Deputy Chairman, Accademia Costume & Moda

Lupo Lanzara started his career in 2002 as an Intern in the Investment Banking Division, Financial Institutions Group, at Morgan Stanley, London. Between 2002-2005, he worked in the Strategy division at Accenture as an Analyst, first in the telecommunications sector and then banking. From 2005 to 2008, he worked for Value Partners, participating in various management consulting projects, but focusing his interest on the Fair Trade industry.

In 2009, Lupo joined the Accademia Costume & Moda as an external consultant. The Accademia Costume & Moda was founded in Rome in 1964 by his grandmother, Rosana Pistolese. After a few years Lupo became Director General. Following the nomination of his brother, Furio Francini, as CEO in 2016, Lupo was nominated Deputy Chairman.

The Accademia today has become one of the most interesting cultural, art and design havens within the global fashion education industry. Ranked 11th in the world and second Italy, the Accademia has a placement ratio of up to 85% of its student body, collaborates with more than 80 companies, and counts its students as finalists and/or winners of some of the most important fashion prizes in the world.

The Accademia’s academic offer of BAs and MAs are accredited by the Italian Ministry of Education. The Accademia is a family philanthropic project that is possible thanks to all the stakeholders who are involved: maisons, manufacturing companies, individuals, faculty, staff and the family.

Teamwork is key, and Lupo’s approach within the creative field is to allow people to express their best assets in total freedom, conveying their own vision with determination. The aim of the Accademia is to train future generations of professionals from a cultural point of view, as well as providing them with design and technical skills, so that they will be able to interpret with confidence, continuously and with their own personal “identity,” the codes of the fashion houses and companies for which they will work.

His hope for the future is “sharing” and not “competing”, “part of the system” and not “individualistic goals”, “identity” and not “imitation.”

Lupo Lanzara holds a degree in International Business (2:1 with honours) from the European Business School, Regent’s University London.

 

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Marco Bizzarri

President and Chief Executive Officer, Gucci

Marco Bizzarri was named President and CEO of Gucci in January 2015, after serving as CEO of Kering’s Luxury – Couture & Leather Goods division, from April 2014 to January 2015, and as president and CEO of Bottega Veneta, from January 2009 to April 2014.

He first joined the Kering Group in January 2005 as president and CEO of Stella McCartney. Previously he was general manager of Marithé et François Girbaud in Paris. He also held various positions, including general manager, for the Mandarina Duck Group from 1993 to 2004, beginning his career as a consultant for Accenture.

Marco Bizzarri’s mantra at Gucci has been to foster creativity in every aspect of the business  emphasize the importance of approaching the daily tasks of work in a different way, continually challenging and questioning the status quo and encouraging risk-taking within the framework of a learning organisation – an organisation based on a culture of empowerment, respect and inclusivity.

The astonishing turnaround that Gucci has achieved in the last three years – a unique case within the luxury fashion industry for a brand of its scale – has gained Marco Bizzarri a series of accolades, including the British Fashion Council’s Business Leader of the Year Award for 2016 and 2017 and the WWD CEO/Creative Leadership Award for 2017.  He was also the recipient of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest decoration, in December 2017.

Portrait of Marco Bizzarri by Petra Collins.

Micaela Le Divelec Lemmi

Chief Executive Officer Salvatore Ferragamo

Nicolas Bos

President and CEO Van Cleef & Arpels

Omoyemi Akerele

Founder and Executive Director Lagos Fashion Week
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Micaela Le Divelec Lemmi

Chief Executive Officer, Salvatore Ferragamo

Micaela le Divelec Lemmi graduated from the Università degli Studi di Firenze in Economics in 1992, and subsequently qualified as a Chartered Accountant. She started her career at EY as Senior Auditor, and in 1998 she joined the Gucci Group to take up
a number of different roles, growing internally – amongst these Controller, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President.

From 2013 to 2015, Micaela le Divelec Lemmi held the position of Gucci’s Executive Vice President & Chief Corporate Operations Officer, overseeing the departments of Human Resources, Legal, Corporate Security, Corporate Social Responsibility & Corporate Compliance. From 2014 to 2015 she also held the role of CEO of Richard Ginori, a subsidiary of Kering.

In March 2015 she was nominated Gucci’s Executive Vice President & Chief Consumer Officer.

Micaela le Divelec Lemmi joined Salvatore Ferragamo as General Manager in April 2018. In July 2018 she was appointed CEO of Salvatore Ferragamo.

She has been a member of the Board of Directors of Beni Stabili S.p.A. SIIQ since 2016, and a member of the Board of Directors of Pitti Immagine S.r.l since 2017.

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Nicolas Bos

President and CEO, Van Cleef & Arpels

Nicolas Bos made his debut with the Richemont Group in 1992, when he joined the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.

In 2000, he joined Van Cleef & Arpels, which had just been acquired by Richemont. He became the high jewellery Maison’s Creative and Marketing Director.

In 2009, he was appointed Vice President of Van Cleef & Arpels. In 2010, he was also appointed President of Van Cleef & Arpels Americas.

In January 2013, Nicolas Bos became President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Under his leadership, the Maison upholds the tradition of excellence, creativity and transmission, which has contributed to its reputation throughout the world, throughout exhibitions and ‘L’ÉCOLE School of Jewelry Arts,’ supported by Van Cleef & Arpels.

In 2017, Nicolas Bos was appointed to the Richemont Board, and is a member of the Senior Executive Committee of the Group.

He says: “Perpetuating a heritage marked by over a century of history and innovation while expressing and enriching that identity in the world of today: that is our mission.”

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Omoyemi Akerele

Founder and Executive Director, Lagos Fashion Week

As the Founder and Executive Director of Lagos Fashion Week and its parent company, Style House Files, Omoyemi Akerele has been instrumental to the prolific rise of the African fashion industry.

A former magazine editor of True Love West Africa, Omoyemi established the fashion business development agency, Style House Files, to create opportunities for African designers by spearheading initiatives that promote the advancement of not only designers but the industry as a whole. Utilising her previous experience as an attorney, Omoyemi began advocating for Nigerian creatives to be recognised and given the same opportunities as their western counterparts.

Her commitment to nurture, develop and promote the African fashion industry led to the establishment of Lagos Fashion Week, a multi-day platform that presents African designers in Nigeria and beyond. Lagos Fashion Week has also expanded its scope of work, providing advocacy for the industry with government and investors, offering industry masterclasses and incubation support for emerging talent and supporting all parts of the fashion industry value chain to achieve their full potential.

Omoyemi has also collaborated with African designers on various projects to promote their work and earn their brands pan African and international recognition. This devotion to see designers from the continent thrive has earned her multiple awards on the continent and the rest of world.

As part of a continuous mission to contribute to the growth of a sustainable fashion industry, Style House Files, under Omoyemi’s leadership is working with the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to strengthen the Nigerian fashion industry’s local capacity to produce garments commercially for local and export markets. This involves end to end industrial garment manufacturing skills acquisition training for job and wealth creation in Nigeria. She also works with the United Nation’s International Trade Center on the SheTrades Commonwealth Project which aims to take 1,000,000 women to markets by 2020.

Omoyemi was on the advisory committee for Museum of Modern Arts #ItemsMoma (MOMA’s first fashion exhibition in 70 years) and currently sits on the advisory board of the Commonwealth Fashion Council (Founded by Daniel Hatton, the CFC works to support and advocate sustainable development, education, youth and gender empowerment in the current and emerging fashion industries within the 53 members nations of the Commonwealth).

Omoyemi’s vision is to see Africa, Nigeria in particular, become a key stakeholder in the global fashion industry. She lives in Lagos with her husband and three beautiful daughters.

Precious Moloi-Motsepe

Founder & Executive Chairperson African Fashion International

Rosario Dawson

Co-Founder Studio 189

Rosario Perez

Member of the Board of Directors Kering Foundation
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Precious Moloi-Motsepe

Founder & Executive Chairperson, African Fashion International

Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe is a businesswoman and philanthropist who started her career in medicine. She is the Deputy Chairperson and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation, as well as the Founder and Executive Chairperson of African Fashion International (AFI).

Dr. Moloi-Motsepe established the Motsepe Foundation with her husband Patrice Motsepe, in 1999. In 2013, the Motsepes became the first couple in Africa to join the Giving Pledge – an organisation started by Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett – to scale up philanthropy for Global Goals and embark on community and societal development initiatives.

The Motsepe Foundation pledged to reduce poverty and improve the lives of marginalised people by focusing on: education and skills provision; sharing knowledge; health awareness; empowering women, youth, workers, and the disabled; and supporting social entrepreneurs.

The Foundation funds university scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to date 2,000 bursaries have been granted. The Foundation also has a Women’s Unit that is currently dedicated to encouraging young girls to study STEM. The projects the Foundation commits to are based on a vision of building self-sustaining and independent communities.

Dr. Moloi-Motsepe’s goals with African Fashion International, established in 2007, involves raising the profile of young African designers. AFI has presented African designers on international platforms like New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and Moscow Fashion Week. Last year, she was awarded the Fashion 4 Development Franca Sozzani Award, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, for her work in propelling African designers.

Dr. Moloi-Motsepe is a member of:

  • The Harvard Kennedy Women’s Leadership Board;
  • The International Women Forum of South Africa;
  • The Cancer Association of South Africa; and
  • The Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum.

She is also the mother of three sons, and enjoys travelling, reading and being in nature.

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Rosario Dawson

Co-Founder, Studio 189

Portrait of Rosario Dawson by Joshua Jordan.

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Rosario Perez

Member of the Board of Directors, Kering Foundation

Rosario Perez is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Kering Foundation.

Created in 2008, the Kering Corporate Foundation combats Violence Against Women. The Foundation structures its action around three key pillars: Supporting local and international NGOs; Awarding Social Entrepreneurs (Social Entrepreneurs Awards); Organising awareness campaigns (White Ribbon For Women campaign).

Rosario Perez is also President/Owner of RP ADVISORS, LLC, an investment advisory firm based in New York City dedicated to serving women entrepreneurs. Prior to that Ms. Perez was CEO/President of Pro Mujer Inc., an organisation offering financial, educational and health services to 300,000 women in Latin America. Based at international headquarters in New York City she oversaw a team of 2,100 employees across Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

Rosario joined Pro Mujer from 2008 to 2015, following a distinguished career in banking, culminating in her appointment as the executive in charge of J.P.Morgan Chase’s Latin American Private Bank. In this role she was responsible for overall client management, operations and financial performance from 1997 until 2005. She oversaw the successful execution of Chase/J.P.Morgan merger which included 475 employees in ten offices worldwide, $30 Billion dollars in assets under management and $280 Million dollars in revenue.

A sought-after thought leader on women’s social and financial inclusion, Rosario has spoken at numerous international conferences, including the World Economic Forum, the Women’s Forum and Women Deliver. In 2014 she was named a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur for her leadership in implementing Pro Mujer’s ground-breaking market-based healthcare solutions for women.

Rosario has served on numerous non for profit boards including Helen Keller International and is presently on the board of Global Partnerships, a social impact investment organisation based in Seattle, Washington

Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Rosario received her B.A. in International Relations from the University of the Americas (Mexico) and a M.A. in European History from Yale University.

Simone Cipriani

Head and Founder Ethical Fashion Initiative at the International Trade Centre

Sylvie Bénard

Environment Director LVMH

Thomas Heatherwick

Founder and Design Director Heatherwick Studio
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Simone Cipriani

Head and Founder, Ethical Fashion Initiative at the International Trade Centre

Simone Cipriani founded and manages the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and of the World Trade Organization.

Simone Cipriani has made it his mission to build a more responsible and sustainable fashion industry, by transforming it into a vehicle of poverty reduction and of empowerment of women, throughout the developing world. The Ethical Fashion Initiative enables artisans who live in marginalised conditions, in Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda), the Caribbean (Haiti) and Asia (Afghanistan and Nepal, soon also in Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), to become regular suppliers of international fashion and lifestyle brands, thus reducing poverty and empowering large numbers of women artisans. Since its inception, the initiative has also evolved to work with emerging African designers to promote their talent at an international level and thus to support more forms of Made in Africa production.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative has created a training centre for African migrants and for refugees in Italy and is now engaged in a large project aimed at addressing the root causes of migration to Europe from Africa.

A multitude of international brands including Vivienne Westwood, Mimco, Osklen, Karen Walker, Brother Vellies, Camper, Chan Luu, Edun, Stella McCartney, United Arrows, Fendi, Elitis work with the Ethical Fashion Initiative and its partners.

Mr. Cipriani previously worked in Ethiopia, where he managed another UN led intervention aimed at improving the national leather industry. He also worked in both Ethiopia and Kenya to set up strategic frameworks to develop viable leather industries. He has consulted for a host of UN and international agencies. He designed and managed development cooperation projects in Indonesia, India, Vietnam, China, Tunisia and Bangladesh.

While Mr. Cipriani has years of experience working in the developing world, he was born in Tuscany, the historic centre of the Italian luxury accessories industry. After studying in Florence, the centre for “Made in Italy” quality, Mr. Cipriani worked in the Italian shoe and leather industry. As such he brings a deep understanding of quality and production to the Ethical Fashion Initiative’s objectives to create desirable fashion in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

He directed an organisation (PISIE) that offered training and capacity building to leather industry entrepreneurs from the developing world. He directed a private company CESECA, which offered services to Italian footwear and leather companies in quality control, technological innovation, training and delocalisation of production to Asia.

Portrait of Simone Cipriani by Trevor Stuurman.

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Sylvie Bénard

Environment Director, LVMH

Sylvie Bénard is Environment Director at LVMH. The Environment Department at LVMH has, year after year, contributed to reducing the environmental impact of the Group and its Houses.

After obtaining a degree in Food Science studies at Cornell University in the U.S., Sylvie earned a PhD in Agricultural Sciences in 1983.

She joined Hennessy (LVMH Group) as a researcher in food microbiology and was in charge of the eaux de vie quality forecasts management and of sensory analyses. In 1992, she started a mission on the environment for LVMH, and in 1995 became the Environment Director of the group.

She is a member of several associations linked to the environment, and is currently a Member of the Board of the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity, of France Green Cross, of 4D and of the RESP Platform (Geneva).

She also has been asked by the French Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development to preside over a committee dedicated to biodiversity career opportunities.

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Thomas Heatherwick

Founder and Design Director, Heatherwick Studio

Thomas Heatherwick is a British designer whose prolific and varied work over two decades is characterised by its ingenuity, inventiveness and originality. Defying the conventional classification of design disciplines, Thomas founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to bring the practices of design, architecture and urban planning together in a single workspace.

Thomas leads the design of all Heatherwick Studio projects, working in collaboration with a team of 180 highly-skilled architects, designers, and makers. Thomas’ unusual approach applies artistic thinking to the needs of each project, resulting in some of the most acclaimed designs of our time. Based in London, Heatherwick Studio is currently working in four continents on projects valued at over £2 Billion. Following the Gold Award success of the UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, Heatherwick Studio has gone on to win exciting design briefs including the Google campus in Silicon Valley, Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross London and the overhaul of London Olympia.

The studio has recently completed the 420,000m² Bund Finance Centre in Shanghai, a collaboration with Foster + Partners, and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, the first museum of its kind on the continent.

Thomas has been appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Royal Academician and in 2004 became the youngest Royal Designer for Industry.

Portrait of Thomas Heatherwick by Earl Wan.

Uche Pézard

Founder and Chief Curator, Luxury Connect Africa CEO, Luxe Corp. Group

Wendy Yu

Founder and CEO YU Holdings
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Uche Pézard

Founder and Chief Curator, Luxury Connect Africa, CEO, Luxe Corp. Group

Uche Pézard is a luxury business strategist, consultant, author and entrepreneur, with an impressive 16 year track record in the international luxury industry. She is recognised worldwide as a pioneer luxury business strategist and opinion leader, and one of a handful of industry experts to have successfully overseen business projects and operations in over 40 countries on five continents.

Following a remarkable career in the international luxury industry, Uche became the first female of African origin to head up a French luxury company in 2015, when she was appointed the CEO of Luxe Corp. Group.

With insightful vision into the luxury business, a strong  creative talent and a rare capacity to pull luxury brands together, Uche has collaborated closely with the world most renowned luxury companies and brands including Louis Vuitton, CHANEL, Hermès, Gucci, Cartier, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Piaget, Chopard, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, and several others. Her expertise in taking luxury brands to elevated growth through strategic business and creative solutions has led to the successful expansion of several brands, as well as new launches.

Uche is the author of the bestselling book, Luxury Fashion Branding (2007), the first book to address the business of luxury from a strategic viewpoint. Her second bestselling book, Luxury Online (2010), is the first and only industry reference text analysing digital media, innovation and technology in luxury.

A true entrepreneur, Uche’s passion for linking the worlds of business, culture, innovation and creativity led her to create Luxury Connect Africa, the pioneer business platform dedicated to reviving luxury in Africa, and accelerating its growth and emergence as an economy.

Uche is passionate about the arts, design, culture and innovation. She is also an aviation enthusiast, an art collector and an amateur chef.

Portrait of Uche Pézard by Michele Young.

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Wendy Yu

Founder and CEO, YU Holdings

Wendy Yu (余晚晚) is a prominent Chinese investor, philanthropist and patron of the Arts.

Zhejiang-born, Yu has been exposed to the world of business from an early age. Her father is Chinese business magnate Mr. Jingyuan Yu, the founder of the Mengtian Group, the largest wooden door manufacturer in Asia. Based in Shanghai, Yu is the Founder and CEO of Yu Holdings, the first China-centric group of its kind, combining dedicated entities for strategic investment, cross-territory business and creative-cultural exchange. With offices in Hong Kong and London, Yu Holdings’s activity is conducted through dedicated divisions: Yu Capital, Yu Fashion and Yu Culture.

Yu Capital is the investment-funding arm for the financing of fashion, lifestyle and technology companies that show high potential for growth in a global market, particularly China. The company’s most recent investments include Samantha Cameron’s womenswear
label Cefinn and British fashion brands Mary Katrantzou, Tujia (Airbnb’s Chinese rival) and Didi Kuaidi (the largest taxi-hailing firm in China). Yu Fashion provides international brands with tailored distribution into China. Yu Culture exists to enrich China’s cultural landscape through the development of initiatives within the realms of film, fashion, art and media.

Together these act a dynamic ecosystem, bridging industries and continents, in the provision of a gateway to China, today’s most promising emerging market. Most recently featured on the cover of Forbes China, forming part of their “30 under 30” list as an industry leader in fashion and arts, and with the launch of the debut Business of Fashion China Prize in partnership with Yu Holdings, Yu is fast becoming one of the world’s most influential millennial entrepreneurs to be shaping the creative and cultural landscape.

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