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.
Editor, Vogue International, Condé Nast International
Suzy Menkes is fashion’s leading authority. As Editor, Vogue International, her articles and reports appear on 25 international Vogue websites in 17 languages, reaching an audience of over 74 million. An enthusiast for social media, she has over 450,000 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 Darren Gerrish.
Co-Founder, Studio 189
Abrima Erwiah (based between Accra and New York), together with actress and activist Rosario Dawson, is the co-founder of Studio One Eighty Nine, an artisan-produced fashion lifestyle brand and social enterprise that has recently won the prestigious CFDA Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability. The brand is made in Africa and produces African and African-inspired content and clothing. The brand currently operates a store in New York and Accra, an ecommerce site, a manufacturing facility in Accra, and supports various community led projects in Africa and in the USA.
Studio One Eighty Nine works with artisanal communities that specialise in various traditional craftsmanship techniques including natural plant-based dye indigo, hand batik, kente weaving and more. Studio One Eighty Nine focuses on empowerment, creating jobs and supporting education and skills training.
Ms. Erwiah believes that fashion can be an agent of social change. Her mission is to do work that contributes to society, has sustainable impact, and is innovative and strategic.
She is a luxury goods industry executive with experience in sustainable development, global sales and marketing, production, operations, digital, general management and international development. Ms. Erwiah has worked in luxury goods, fashion, accessories, and beauty as well as in the agriculture sector. She has worked with corporations, NGOS and governments. She has worked as an advisor to the United Nations International Trade Center Ethical Fashion Initiative, and was also previously the Global Associate Communications and Marketing Director and the Worldwide Social Media Director at Bottega Veneta. Additionally, she has held various positions at luxury brands including Hermès/John Lobb, Cesare Paciotti and Bureau Betak. She has worked and travelled extensively, and has lived in New York, Milan, Florence, Kampala and Accra. She is fluent in English, French; proficient in Italian and understands Spanish.
She earned a Master’s degree from New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study on the economic impact of luxury goods in Africa and wrote her thesis at NYU Accra. Ms. Erwiah graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and international business from NYU Stern School of Business.
She was appointed marketing mentor for Afripads in Uganda through the Kering Foundation. She supports various organisations including V-Day, the Lower East Side Girls Club, Fashion Revolution USA, 14plus Foundation, the High School of Fashion Industries committee, and Shine on Sierra Leone.
Abrima Erwiah has also recently joined Vanity Fair and One Young World’s list of people leading the charge towards achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. She is the recipient of various awards including the Martin Luther King Jr Social Justice award from the University of Pennsylvania, the MOCADA Social Justice award, the Design Miami Visionary award, the Filming On Italy Social Justice award, the Africa-America Institute Entrepreneur Impact Award, the International Women of Power Sankofa award and more.
She is a published author. She has guest-lectured at various universities including Harvard, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island School of Design, Radford University and others.
Portrait of Abrima Erwiah by Joshua Jordan.
Chief Executive Officer, Tiffany & Co.
Alessandro Bogliolo is chief executive officer of Tiffany & Co. Mr. Bogliolo assumed this position and joined the Tiffany Board of Directors in October 2017.
Mr. Bogliolo is a veteran luxury industry executive with nearly three decades of experience in general management, operations and marketing for luxury, fashion, jewelry and automotive brands. He started his career in 1989 at Bain & Company, a global business consulting firm, advising clients on mergers, acquisitions and strategy projects. He held positions at the Italian motorcycle and scooter company, Piaggio before moving on to Bulgari SpA, the Italian jewelry and luxury goods brand. Mr. Bogliolo served 16 years at Bulgari SpA in senior executive roles including chief operating officer and executive vice president – jewelry, watches & accessories. Subsequently, he served as chief operating officer for North America at Sephora, owned by LVMH Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, the leader in global prestige retail. Most recently he was chief executive officer of Diesel, the internationally distinguished Italian denim and lifestyle brand where he led the company’s efforts to revitalize its brand and enhance their customer experience.
In 2018, Mr. Bogliolo was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Mr. Bogliolo earned a degree in business administration from Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy and completed the International Management Program at HEC (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales) in Paris, France.
Alison Bringé is an industry expert and thought leader, shaping the way the fashion, luxury and cosmetic industries bridge the gap with technology. Alison is known for helping brands leverage data and technology as a game-changer in these creative industries.
Prior to Launchmetrics, Alison worked at IMG Fashion, where she was responsible for the digitalisation of New York Fashion Week, introducing the technology that has become the standard for fashion shows worldwide today. Before that, she supported the expansion of NET-A-PORTER in the U.S.A., working under Natalie Massenet and Alison Loehnis.
In addition to her corporate experience, Alison has been an integral part of the fashion education system as an adjunct professor at Parsons The New School, as well as a continued guest lecturer for programmes at Condé Nast Colleges. She holds a Masters from the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising and Communications from the University of Central Florida in the United States of America.
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.
Arthur Arbesser is a Milan-based womenswear brand launched in 2013.
Born and raised in Vienna, Arbesser was deeply immersed in the city’s history and culture as he grew up. After graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins College, he moved to Milan to work for one of the most prestigious Italian fashion houses for the next years.
Subsequent to launching his eponymous label and being a finalist for the 2015 LVMH prize, he quickly became recognised for his vibrant aesthetics.
Arbesser’s designs represent a new take on turn-of-the-century art and architecture. The brand’s philosophy is a synergy of outstanding tailoring and finest quality fabrics, creating pure, yet sensual silhouettes for modern women.
Since 2017, Arthur Arbesser has also been the Creative Director of Fay, the outerwear brand of the Italian Tod’s Group.
Portrait of Arthur Arbesser courtesy of DennisonBertram.
Chief Executive Officer, De Beers Group
Bruce became CEO of De Beers Group on 1 July 2016. He joined De Beers in 2005 and was first appointed to the Board of De Beers PLC, as Commercial Director, in July 2008.
Bruce was appointed Group Director, Strategy and Business Development, for Anglo American in January 2016 (and was a Non-Executive Director on the De Beers PLC Board). Previously, at De Beers, he had responsibility for strategy, corporate affairs, business development and technology.
As Executive Head of Strategy and Business Development for De Beers (2011-2015), he played a central role in shaping the direction of the business, including the development of corporate strategy, leading De Beers’ sales agreement negotiations with key governments and guiding all group mergers and acquisition activities. He led the reshaping of De Beers’ mining portfolio, creating the De Beers Technologies unit, and delivering on De Beers’ commitments to its government partners. He also led the successful relocation of Global Sightholder Sales from London to Botswana in 2013.
Bruce has been based in Johannesburg and London, and has spent considerable time in Botswana, Namibia, Canada, India, Russia, the Far East and the U.S., so he has unique insight into the needs of De Beers’ producer partners, communities, sightholders, downstream partners and consumers.
Before joining De Beers, he was a partner at Webber Wentzel, Africa’s largest law firm, specialising in commercial matters, where he won several awards.
He is on the boards of Debswana, De Beers Consolidated Mines, Namdeb Holdings and De Beers Jewellers.
Bruce holds a BSc in applied maths and an LLB from the University of Cape Town, as well as an LLM from the University of Cambridge.
Creative Director, RÆBURN
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.
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 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. He is also responsible for 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.
Founder, Okapi & Merchants On Long
Hanneli Rupert is the Founder and Creative Director of Okapi and Merchants on Long. African luxury brand Okapi was conceptualised in 2008, and the multiband shop Merchants on Long followed suit, opening in 2010.
Prior to this, she trained at the University of the Arts London with a focus on painting. She is an active YGL (Young Global Leader) at the World Economic Forum. She is a Trustee of the South African children’s education charity, the Imibala Trust, which has a strong arts focus.
Hanneli is currently working on the ongoing renovation and renewal of the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch, South Africa, set to reopen in May 2019.
Future plans include playing a more active role in the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, the board of which she was recently appointed to, and Homo Faber, the event organised by the Foundation to showcase the finest craftsmanship.
Founder, Ituen Basi
The multi award-winning label Ituen Basi was launched in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2008. The brand is a pioneer in promoting and celebrating the style, individuality and feminism of the African woman and the richness and diversity of all things Nigerian.
Ituen Basi, the innovative Nigerian designer behind the label, has creatively redefined and celebrated the Ankara fabric, starting a new era of Ankara interpretation in Nigeria and Africa. The innovation has won her several local and international awards, including the 2012 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week designer of the year, Africa.
She has conceptualised and created innovative costumes for several stage productions like ‘For Coloured Girls’, ‘Kakadu the Musical’, ‘HearWord’, ‘Mi Setonu’, ‘Saro the Musical’, ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’, to name a few.
The label has also been featured in press including Vogue Italia and British Vogue. Ituen Basi has also shown on runways in Dakar, Milan, Paris, London, Vienna, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Memphis.
Ituen Basi continues to promote and showcase the richness of Nigerian culture through fashion exhibitions at prestigious locations like the Minneapolis Museum, the Fowler Museum in UCLA, and the Brooks Museum in Memphis as part of the recent ‘My Africa Now’ exhibition. She has and continues to work tirelessly to support and develop upcoming practitioners in the Nigerian garment industry through her training programmes and initiatives.
Master of Ceremonies, Condé Nast International Luxury Conference 2019
As a Master of Ceremonies and international speaker, Jo-Ann has hosted a multitude of events worldwide. She enjoys taking her audiences on an insightful and entertaining journey throughout the proceedings she hosts. These range from VIP events for the Ryder Cup in Paris for BMW to the first charitable fundraiser in Monaco for Her Serene Highness, Charlene, The Princess of Monaco. She has MC’ed conferences for bespoke brands on four continents and travelled extensively as a television host and producer.
Jo-Ann is a UNICEF Ambassador and has designed a clothing range which raised funds to feed over 8,000 families. She sits on the boards of Media24 (one of Africa’s biggest media companies), M&C Saatchi Abel, Village N Life (a property and tourism company) as well as the advisory board of the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
She has three children aged four and under with her husband, a professor in orthopaedic surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital. She strives for balance in everything she does.
Each year, Jo-Ann produces #SocialStar, a social media property that enables young influencers to carve profitable and sustainable businesses in the new sphere of media. She has over 650,000 followers across the most popular social media platforms.
She is passionate about entrepreneurship and hosted a conference on entrepreneurship in Africa with Sir Richard Branson. One of her goals is to help create and foster an environment in her home country which encourages people to grow their own businesses. She is particularly passionate about empowering single working mothers.
To Jo-Ann, the greatest luxury is time. She enjoys spending it wisely.
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.
Creator, @noonoouri , Managing Director, Opium Effect
Joerg Zuber is a citizen of the world. A nomad, a traveller. He is embracing new horizons. Chasing fresh sunsets and racing towards sunrise. Crossing continents and discovering cultures. Soaking up sights, sounds and textures. Translating his experience into visions of insight and art. Combining, blending, reinventing. Unlocking hidden passageways and walking unknown roads. Dreaming not
of what is, but of what may be. Lighting the path to perfection.
Joerg Zuber sees, hears, thinks, creates. He is gathering knowledge and giving shape. Penetrating to the core, sensing to the quick. Turning lines, casting arcs. Looking through the lens, beholding patterns and connections, combinations of light and shade. Imagining. Collaborating. Loving to work with people truly driven by their craft. Charged with boundless energy, with positivity, enthusiasm. Transforming bold imagination into otherworldly beauty. A master director of design in fashion and form.
He was five years old, at his home in Germany, when he discovered his mother’s fashion magazines. The glossy paper spoke to him. ‘See’. ‘Touch’. ‘Explore’. Page upon page of neverending beauty. His senses became attuned by Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace. Alive.
From that instant, childhood changed. Taking snow-white paper and a rainbow of pencils, he crafted sparkling jewellery. Opulent dresses. Luxurious bottles of scent. Newly minted logos. Entire collections and campaigns. The priceless gifts of a child to his mother.
He was addicted. Truly, madly, helplessly. Caught in a self-made web, spinning strands of beauty and design. From a spark to a flame, the addiction now blazes. A fire in his veins. Lighting projects. Guiding partners.
He founded his creative studio OPIUM sixteen years ago. Taking light, colour, sound and motion. Blending deep invocations to the senses. Intoxicating audiences with addictive Design. Animation. Film. Audio. Print. Tirelessly seducing with unconventional beauty, creating digital haute couture.
He is the creator and soul of the digital character @noonoouri
Co-Founder and Chairperson, Wildlife ACT
Jo Maree co-founded and is the Chairperson of Wildlife ACT. Wildlife ACT’s mission is to save Africa’s endangered wildlife, and to improve the livelihoods of communities living around protected areas. By developing innovative funding models, Wildlife ACT has been able to support critical conservation initiatives across Africa, working with wildlife including the Africa Painted Wolf, Black Rhino, leopards, lions and various species of vultures.
Jo is passionate about the sustainable development of Africa, and is particularly interested in harnessing the power of impact investment to advance the prospects of Africa’s burgeoning young population, with a focus on the eco-tourism sector. Jo is currently completing his master’s degree in development finance at Stellenbosch University Business School.
Wildlife ACT’s mission is to help save Africa’s endangered wildlife and wild places from extinction. Wildlife ACT (www.wildlifeact.com) was co-founded in 2008 by Johan Maree, Chris Kelly and Dr. Simon Morgan, who were determined to find a way of ensuring sustainable, long-term monitoring and conservation projects.
Wildlife ACT is a team of experienced conservationists – rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty working in the field 365 days a year – to save our endangered and threatened wildlife from extinction. Wildlife ACT is an efficient team stretching every cent to make sure it is utilised in meaningful and focused conservation work. Their main focus is on endangered species such as Black Rhino, Painted Dogs and vultures as well as priority species including the cheetah, elephant, lion, leopard and hyena. The conservation work focuses on:
- Providing specialist priority species monitoring services to protected areas;
- Delivering time and expertise to provide adequate management, capture, transport and reintroduction of endangered animals to new homes;
- Developing and deploying state-of-the-art monitoring and anti-poaching measures and equipment in the field;
- Helping rural communities who live alongside protected wildlife areas to develop a love and respect for nature, providing them with reasons to protect it, and advancing economic empowerment.
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 into 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, Jonathan 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 29 markets worldwide. Having established editions of 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 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.
In 2018, Jonathan joined the Global Tech Group for the Male Champions of Change, an initiative set up to accelerate progression for gender equality.
Portrait of Jonathan Newhouse by Mike Trow.
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 more than 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 a 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.
Freshwater Project Manager, WWF South Africa
Kholosa’s curious journey began at home in Matatiele (Eastern Cape Province, South Africa) where she volunteered with Environmental & Rural Solutions, an environmental NGO, during her vacations. She credits this experience for being her colourful gateway to all things environmental. She then completed a BSc in Environmental Sciences and a BSc Honours in Ecological Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg.
As part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s Groen Sebenza (“Green Work”) programme, she was placed with the Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) in Pietermaritzburg as an intern. She was later employed at DUCT as a water health scientist. Kholosa’s key responsibilities at DUCT were to conduct water quality assessments, waterborne disease research and to help groups use and understand citizen science monitoring tools (MiniSASS) and other river health issues. Working at DUCT fuelled her passion for freshwater aquatic ecology and people even more. After three years at DUCT, she joined the Freshwater Programme at WWF South Africa.
At WWF, Kholosa has worked with communities in areas such as Ceres, Khayelitsha, Stellenbosch, and some parts of KwaZulu-Natal (in underprivileged, poor urban settlements). Her focus is leading and providing support to community-led water stewardship initiatives where communities tackle water, sanitation and waste issues. Kholosa’s role is to engage and assist communities in building relationships with key stakeholders to take collective action for water stewardship.
Recently, Kholosa shared her work lessons (including the Capetonian “near-Day Zero” experience) and the broader WWF South Africa community-based water stewardship approach at World Water Week 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. From this experience she has been further inspired to broaden her horizons in the world of water.
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. Beyoncé 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 started 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 rite 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 to appeal to a youth culture influenced by international trends. And so, the MAXHOSA BY LADUMA aesthetic was created.
Portrait of Laduma Ngxokolo by Trevor Stuurman.
Deputy Chairman and Image Director, Emilio Pucci
In 1985, Laudomia Pucci graduated from LUISS University Rome with a B.A. in Economics and Politics and, in the same year, joined Emilio Pucci in Florence.
In 1987, she moved to Hubert de Givenchy in Paris but subsequently returned to Pucci, where she served as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director until 2000.
Between 1989 and 2000, Laudomia was Chief Executive Officer of Emilio Pucci. She redefined the style, image, commercial and marketing approach of the brand, including a new distribution pattern worldwide.
In 2000, Laudomia negotiated the agreement with LVMH which included the sale of 67% of Emilio Pucci, and she became Deputy Chairman and Image Director of Emilio Pucci.
Over the years she has worked with the appointed Creative Directors Julio Espada, Christian Lacroix, Matthew Williamson, Peter Dundas and Massimo Giorgetti, developing the international expansion of the brand.
She created a Private Museum for the Emilio Pucci Archives in Tuscany at the family’s estate in 2011.
She is a Vice President and Board Member of Altagamma, board member of Polimoda Srl, Salini Impregilo, Sotheby’s International Council, Palazzo Strozzi Foundation Usa and member of steering committee of Ente Cassa di Risparmio Firenze.
In 2010, she was honoured with the degree of “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” by the Minister of the French Culture, Frédéric Mitterrand.
She is married to Alessandro Castellano and mother of three children, Larissa, Tancredi and Zénaide.
Chief Editor, Vogue Business
Lauren Indvik is the Chief Editor of Vogue Business, a new b2b publication offering a truly global perspective on the fashion, beauty and luxury industries.
Headquartered in London, Vogue Business draws on insights from Condé Nast’s network of more than 800 journalists and business leaders in 29 markets, from China to Brazil.
A business and technology reporter by background, she was previously the Head of News and Features at Vogue International, collaborating with the Vogue teams internationally. Prior to that, she was editor-in-chief of Fashionista.com in New York from 2013 to 2015. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Laurence Graff OBE
Chairman and Founder, Graff
Laurence Graff has transformed his instinctive infatuation with diamonds as a young entrepreneur into a global jewellery empire synonymous with the Earth’s rarest and most valuable jewels.
The House of Graff was established in 1960. Benefiting from the tireless devotion and business acumen of its founder, it swiftly grew to be one of Britain’s preeminent jewellery enterprises. Graff became the first ever jeweller to be presented with the Queen’s Award to Industry and Export, and has since received three further Queen’s Award accolades, before earning an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2013.
The Graff empire now comprises 60 stores, a stratospheric expansion since the opening of the first Graff London Flagship store in 1973. Despite this global expansion, Graff remains a family business, and a member of the Graff family presides over every stage of the craftsmanship process, from the cutting and polishing stage to setting the final jewel.
Laurence Graff has handled more important diamonds than any other diamantaire of our time. As the controlling shareholder in the South African Diamond Corporation, cutting and polishing thousands of diamonds annually, Graff benefits from a vertically integrated structure that has enabled it to reach the pinnacle of the jewellery industry. Laurence Graff has irrevocably shaped diamond history, having cut and polished many of the world’s famous diamonds, including the Lesedi La Rona, the largest rough diamond discovered in the last 100 years.
A patron of modern and contemporary art, Laurence Graff is one of the world’s principal collectors, with positions on the International Director’s Council of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the International Council Executive Committee of the Tate Modern in London, the International Council of the Berggruen Museum in Berlin, the International Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Board of Governors for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the European Advisory Board of Christie’s.
The Delaire Graff Estate, a luxury retreat created by Graff in the heart of South Africa’s Winelands in 2009, houses some of Laurence Graff’s personal art collection, and is a premier destination for exceptional hospitality, exquisite food and award-winning wine.
Laurence Graff has also pursued philanthropic endeavours, founding the FACET Foundation (For Africa’s Children Every Time) in 2008. The foundation partners with local charities in Africa to improve the education and wellbeing of disadvantaged children, re-investing in the homeland of Graff’s remarkable jewels.
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 in 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 is 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.
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, emphasise 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 three years in a row (2016, 2017 and 2018) 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
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.
Global Head of Luxury, Facebook & Instagram
Morin Oluwole is a luxury industry thought leader in digital transformation, media and innovation at Facebook in France, where she leads Facebook and Instagram’s global luxury division.
She was formerly Chief of Staff to the VP, Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, where she developed business strategies for global brand partners. She has been at Facebook for 12 years, during which she has led Product Marketing (Facebook Pages) and Public Content Partnerships (fashion and luxury). Prior to this, she was a Management Consultant at Sachs Consulting in New York.
Morin holds a BA and MA from Stanford University in Human Biology and Sociology and an MA in Management from Columbia University. She was a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar and received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence – both for five consecutive years.
Morin speaks four languages (English, French, Spanish and Yoruba) and has lived on three continents. Morin currently resides in Paris.
President and Chief Executive Officer, 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.”
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 in 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 Nigerian 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 Centre 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.
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 pledges 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, involve 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 School Women’s Leadership Board;
- The International Women’s Forum of South Africa;
- The Cancer Association of South Africa; and
- The Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum.
She is also the mother of three sons, and enjoys travelling, reading and being in nature.
Founder and CEO, Alara
Reni Folawiyo is the Founder and CEO of Alara, a contemporary African design concept store in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.
Born in London to academic parents, Reni’s early education was in Nigeria, before furthering her education at the University of Warwick, England, where she graduated as a lawyer in 1986. After being called to the Nigerian bar in 1987, she practiced commercial law for ten years before pursuing her passion for creative expression.
Prior to founding Alara, Reni had expressed her bias for art, fashion and lifestyle by starting a collective of creatives. Bringing makers, artists and fashion designers together, she started a studio which went on to expand into a wood working and leather working company producing both artisanal and commercial products. RFH Ltd is a leader in the interior design industry, known for its unique products, collaborations with artisans, and excellent finishing.
Reni founded Alara in February 2015. A culmination of Reni’s personal journey, Alara, the Yoruba word for “a wondrous performer” and “one who thrills endlessly” is a lifestyle project that is dedicated to contemporary art, fashion, design, cuisine and culture. A luxury destination from an African perspective, Alara is located on Victoria Island, and was designed by Sir David Adjaye OBE, the world-renowned architect. In the same year, Nok by Alara was launched, a contemporary African restaurant that specialises in reconstructed versions of classic African dishes.
Reni is well travelled. With specific interests in art, culture and lifestyle, she is fulfilling her life’s dream to redefine African Luxury to Africans and to the rest of the world.
Reni sits on the board of several private sector establishments, and has constantly positioned herself as an exemplary motivator, especially for the millennial generation.
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Impact Fund For African Creatives
Roberta Annan is an award-winning business woman. She was the youngest African to be inducted into the African Leadership Magazine Hall of Fame and is part of the Milken Institute Young Leaders Circle as well as a member of the YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization).
Originating from Ghana, West Africa, Roberta has lived and worked on four continents. Studying at Georgetown University, she holds a Masters degree in Biotechnology.
Roberta is the Managing Partner of Roberta Annan Capital Partners (RACP), a sector-agnostic, specialised boutique investment company in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a portfolio of assets in hospitality, agribusiness, sustainable luxury and mining. Alongside this company, Roberta founded RAC, a subsidiary of RACP, which focuses on advisory and business development.
She is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Impact Fund For African Creatives (IFFAC) – a €100 million fund that invests in creative businesses across Africa, in partnership with UN- ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.
Roberta has worked with the United Nations as a consultant in resource mobilisation, where she mobilised funds that created fundraising strategies to expedite the implementation of UN projects across the world.
Roberta is well-recognised in her field and is a Senior Market Liaison for Fieldstone. During her career, Roberta has formed partnerships with LJ Partnership – a ‘Multi Family’ office with $13 billion assets under its management. Together, they formed LJ African Advisors.
Roberta is an avid philanthropist and is passionate about women’s development opportunities across Africa, starting the African Fashion Fund (AFF) in 2014. The Fund is an incubator to support talented designers from Africa.
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 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, she oversaw a team of 2,100 employees across Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.
Rosario worked at 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 the Chase/J.P.Morgan merger which included 475 employees in ten offices worldwide, $30 billion of assets under management, and $280 million 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 not-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.
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 in Asia (Afghanistan and Nepal, and soon also in Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), to become regular suppliers to 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, and 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 of “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 also 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.
Senior Vice President, Local and Cultural Innovation, The Estée Lauder Companies
Susan Akkad works across the brands and geographies of The Estée Lauder Companies to develop and expand product and commercial innovation that increases relevancy with global multi-ethnic and emerging market consumers.
Previously, she held senior positions with Clinique, Origins and M·A·C. Susan is an expert on the subject of cultural marketing, relevancy and innovation.
She has been profiled in Vogue, Essence and Jones, and has been recognised with honours including: Ebony “Power 100” (2010 and 2017); Black Enterprise Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing (2013); WWD Beauty Inc’s 50 Most Influential in the Multicultural Beauty Market (2015).
Susan holds an undergraduate degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University.
Environment Director, LVMH
Sylvie Bénard is Environment Director at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. 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 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 Responsible Ecosystems Sourcing Platform (Geneva).
She also has been asked by the French Ministry of Ecology to preside over a committee dedicated to biodiversity career opportunities.
Owner, O3X Ltd, Franchise Director, Ermenegildo Zegna Lagos
Tope Edu is a leading voice in the Nigerian fashion industry. A recognised opinion leader and style icon, she has inspired several leading Nigerian fashion designers, including renowned womenswear brand Tiffany Amber Nigeria, which created a limited-edition capsule collection titled ‘Tope Edu for Tiffany Amber’.
With a long-term vision to grow the Nigerian luxury retail sector, Tope Edu set up O3X Ltd as a vehicle to bring luxury global brands to the Nigerian market. The company has successfully launched and established luxury menswear franchise Ermenegildo Zegna in Lagos, which has operated since 2013 and is the first flagship store of its kind in the country.
The Zegna flagship store is the first and only monobrand luxury menswear store in Nigeria, and the first international luxury brand to fully establish in West Africa. The brand conveys a symbol of Italian elegance and craftsmanship and caters to the upper echelons of Nigerian society.
Tope Edu holds a first degree and a Masters degree in Law. She worked for several years at Aluko and Oyebode, a renowned Law firm in Nigeria. She also studied at the prestigious Chelsea College of Arts and Design. Tope Edu currently lives in Lagos, Nigeria with her three daughters and husband.
Founder and Chief Curator, Luxury Connect Africa, CEO, Luxe Corp. Group
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’s 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 and 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.
Founder and CEO, Yu Holdings
Wendy Yu (余晚晚) is a prominent Chinese investor, philanthropist and patron of the Arts.
Zhejiang-born Yu was 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 as 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, Yu is fast becoming one of the world’s most influential millennial entrepreneurs to be shaping the creative and cultural landscape.
Chair, Table Mountain Fund, Head of Sustainability, Scatec Solar
Yumnaa Firfirey has developed a diverse career in business, government, partnership organisations and as an entrepreneur, in South Africa and abroad. She holds a Business Science degree in Marketing and Economics.
She has worked in the sectors of tourism, design, sustainability and now renewable energy, with partnership building and economic development the common thread throughout. For her work in these areas, Yumnaa has won various awards and been appointed to various boards and trusts.
Yumnaa is Chair of the Table Mountain Fund and a trustee of WWF South Africa.
Yumnaa works on strategy development as well as implementation, with precision and attention to detail. This has been a key success factor in taking very difficult projects from concept to full scale operation. One of these was the establishment of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, which she founded in 2012.
Yumnaa believes in freeing up business to make a profit, while at the same time encouraging them to consider the long term view. She believes the long-term profit, success and viability of any business can only be achieved by considering the well-being of staff, suppliers, environment, customers and society.
Determined to bring her beliefs to life, Yumnaa embarked on a journey to explore ethical business as a social entrepreneur, creating the ethical fashion label, Bodhisattva | Reimagining Fashion.
Founder, Adara Foundation
The Adara Foundation, a non-profit social enterprise in Nigeria, focusses on empowering women and advancing education in Africa. It does this through ethical fashion, creating market opportunities for fabric workers and designers.
Fabric workers specialise in traditional techniques including resist-dyeing, dip-dyeing and tie-dye. The Adara Foundation has collaborated with a number of brands, including Tiffany Amber, to bring complex, traditional fabric techniques and skills to a wider audience.
Additionally, the Foundation is working with Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford to support gender parity in education and to foster a global MBA community with representation from all over the world. The Adara Foundation, in partnership with Oxford University’s Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund, is offering a full scholarship to an exceptional female MBA candidate from Africa.
Portrait of Yvonne Fasinro by Kelechi Amadi-Obi.