Apple hires former fashion label CEO Paul Deneve for ‘special projects’


If you thought Apple’s done hiring, think again. Just as we’ve digested news that the California firm hired Hulu executive Pete Distad to help its executives negotiate content deals with media and cable companies like Time Warner Cable, earlier today AppleInsider claimed the company hired Paul Deneve, a former CEO of the luxury French fashion label Yves Saint Laurent, to work on special projects as a Vice President reporting directly to Apple’s boss Tim Cook…

Originally published as a rumor based on a tip provided to AppleInsider, the news has since been confirmed by Adam Satariano of Bloomberg.

“Apple says he’ll report to CEO Tim Cook on ‘special projects,’ not retail,” Satariano first wrote on Twitter.

And I get to become a self-made fashion expert, if only for this report.

The subsequent Bloomberg article has a statement from an Apple spokesperson:

We’re thrilled to welcome Paul Deneve to Apple. He’ll be working on special projects as a vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook.

Previously known as YSL, the luxury Parisian brand Saint Laurent today announced Deneve would be replaced in September by Francesca Bellettini of Bottega Veneta. Deneve, as Saint Lauren put it in a media release, “has chosen to take up a new career opportunity in the high tech industry.”

It’s interesting that Deneve in the past worked for Apple for seven years in sales and marketing, from 1990 to 1997. As of recently, he’s been advising a few Silicon Valley startups as well, according to Wikipedia.

Deneve’s LinkedIn profile wasn’t updated at the time of this writing.

Paul Deneve (image 002)

Deneve was named Saint Laurent’s President and CEO in April 2011.

Prior to that, he made a name for himself in the luxury fashion industry by managing such brands as Courreges, Nina Ricci and Lanvin.

Some watchers suspect Deneve could be a suitable replacement for Apple’s departed head of retail Ron Johnson, who after a brief and unsuccessful stint at JC Penney was fired over a disastrous drop in sales.

Given Deneve’s expertise in the luxury fashion industry and prior sales and marketing experience at Apple, it is entirely possible that ‘special projects’ he’ll be helping Apple with include a rumored smartwatch dubbed by the media the iWatch.

If it means anything, Tim Cook also hired Adobe’s former CTO Kevin Lynch as a Vice President of Technology, reporting directly to SVP of Technologies Bob Mansfield.

iWatch concept (Martin Hajek, multiple 001)

Fittingly, Mansfield, a long-time Apple executive in charge of hardware engineering, has reportedly taken particular interest in wearable technology and is understood to be heading a team of 100+ engineers working on the wristwatch project.

It’s been discovered this week that Apple has expanded the iWatch trademark filing world tour to Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey, Colombia, Japan and other countries.

Such a device would no doubt have to go beyond pure functionality if it’s to ignite sales in a meaningful way.

iWatch cocept (Martin Hajek, MacUser April 2013 issue 011)

Couple Deneve’s background with Apple’s design prowess, high-end brand status and premium quality and you have a win-win scenario where a former fashion industry CEO could help make the iWatch more fashionable.

Of course, I’m purely speculating here and your guess is as good as mine so feel free to chime in with your two cents down in the comments.

iWatch concept artwork by Martin Hajek.