Saturday, September 8, 2012


By Eva Fydrych

Natalie Massenet appointed Chairman of the British Fashion Council from 1st January 2013

Net-a-porter founder Natalie Massenet at LFW (Photo courtesy of Fashion Confidential)

Natalie Massenet MBE is to be appointed Chairman of the British Fashion Council from 1st January 2013. Harold Tillman CBE will step down at the end of the year after completing an extended term as BFC Chair.

Natalie was approached to take up the position by the BFC’s Executive Board in recognition of her reputation for innovation and creativity at the helm of The Net-a-porter Group. The fact that as an entrepreneur she has built a globally recognised, award winning fashion business together with her strong international profile amongst media and retailers and her close relationships with both British designers and global luxury brands will all be vital to furthering the reputation and perception of the British Fashion Industry at home and around the world. Natalie's new role will see her become spokesperson, figurehead and industry ambassador for the organisation; and alongside the board she will be tasked with continuing to grow the profile of the sector globally and the businesses within it.

Natalie will continue in her role as Executive Chairman of The Net-a-porter Group.

Natalie Massenet (Photo courtesy of Stylish Doc)

“I am honoured and excited to be taking on the role of Chairman of The British Fashion Council. Over the past few years The British Fashion Council, led by Harold Tillman and Caroline Rush, has done an extraordinary job of building the profile of our industry worldwide. Not only do we have some of the best creative talent based in London but there are also great British designers working in some of the most high profile luxury design houses in the world. We also have the best understanding of what our industry contributes to the UK economy and what a significant player the British Fashion Industry is and can continue to be. My experience is in merging extraordinary creative content with innovative global commerce. From January, together with Caroline Rush and her team, I aim to apply these lessons to my new role, a role I take incredibly seriously.” - commented Natalie Massenet MBE.

Harold Tillman CBE, Chairman of the British Fashion Council, said "For nearly five years as chair of the British Fashion Council, I have seen the industry grow and develop – taking its role at the top of the fashion world both in terms of stature, and excellence. Of course, I would not be comfortable moving on without securing a successor who I believe can take the baton and propel the BFC further forward. And I am delighted that Natalie Massenet will become our new chair from January 2013."

Natalie Massenet (Photo courtesy of Stylish Doc)

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, said “The board are looking forward to welcoming Natalie to the organisation and working closely with her on our programme of development and activity over the next three years, both at home and abroad. I thank Harold for his incredible support and vision and for extending his initial three year term to almost five to see us through a period of significant change.”

Harold Tillman steps down at the end of 2012, under his guidance the BFC has become an effective promotional body for the industry through clarity of objectives and vision. He established the first full time management team for the organisation through the appointment of Caroline Rush to CEO and Simon Ward as COO. In 2010 Harold delivered the Value of Fashion report, defining today’s British Fashion Industry and assessing its true value to UK PLC. As part of the BFC's 25 year celebrations he established key legacy projects such as the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. In 2011 he established the China Britain Fashion Alliance to promote trade and investment links for the British Fashion Industry in Asia.

Chairman of the British Fashion Council is an honorary role with an initial three year term. Advisory board members were asked to put forward names for consideration by the executive board in December 2011 after Harold Tillman confirmed he would stay for one further year.
Source: British Fashion Council

Natalie Massenet (Photo courtesy of RDuJour)


Natalie Massenet was born in Los Angeles in 1966. She spent her early childhood in Paris and Madrid before moving back to Los Angeles in 1976 with her father Bob Rooney (an American journalist). In 1997 she met her husband, Arnaud Massenet (an investment banker) at the Notting Hill Carnival. A month later, she moved from LA to be with him.

Natalie Massenet started working as a fashion editor at Women's Wear Daily in 1993 (aged 27) and later in 1996 at The Tatler. It was at the age of 33, when she was Isabella Blow's assistant at Tatler, that she came up with the idea for a luxury fashion e-tail site. "I couldn't believe you could be sitting in your apartment in London and be clicking on a Victorian jacket in Wisconsin, and that someone in Wisconsin could send it to you!" - she said in an interview for Vogue.

She left Tatler in 1998 to go freelance and started up Net-a-porter. Natalie convinced Roland Mouret to sell his first collection on Net-a-porter in 2001.The company became profitable in 2004, the same year that Massenet - and Net-a-porter - won the award for Best Shop at the 2004 British Fashion Awards. 

In April 2010 Natalie sold her share of Net-a-porter to a Swiss luxury goods group Richemont for an estimated £350m. Two million people log in to the site every week and their average spend is £500. 
Source: Vogue & Wikipedia

Natalie Massenet (Photo by Henry Bourne)

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