Simon Doonan Out At Barneys?

January 11, 2011 • Fashion

Simon Doonan

Is the sign of the fashion apocalypse? Barneys New York without Simon Doonan? That seems to be the unfortunate case as The New York Post reported late yesterday that Doonan, the amicable creative director for Barneys—made famous by his whimsical window displays and velvety voice—has been "promoted" to the position of Creative Ambassador-at-Large. And while that's all well and good, it seems this so-called promotion is nothing more than a cleverly disguised ploy from new CEO Mark Lee to push Doonan out of the company. Doonan's role as creative director has already been replaced by Dennis Freedman, a veteran editor at W magazine, and now many of Doonan's longtime supporters are crying foul.

"Simon has been the face of Barneys for a long time, and you could say that face just got a slap," said one source close to the company. Added another: "Nobody gets promoted to anything with 'at-large' in the title."

So why is this happening? Some industry insiders are speculating that Lee, formerly an exec at Gucci, is trying to weed out all the Barneys experts in order to make over the store according to his, and his only, ideas. After taking over the retailer in September, Lee promptly fired Doonan's close friends Julie Gilhart and Judy Collinson, the retailer's fashion director and head women's clothing merchant, respectively. Together, the trio had spent nearly 40 years at Barneys and were responsible for much of its success.

Doonan himself had told The Post last month that he was "very supportive" of Lee, even after Gilhart and Collinson had been fired. When the news broke yesterday, Lee made efforts to calm the uproar from Doonan's loyal following by praising him and his legacy, calling him, in a statement, an "intrinsic part of the Barneys DNA." Doonan put on a courageous front as well, saying in the same statement, "This exciting evolution of my role at Barneys is brilliant. Change has always been integral to the strength and vibrancy of the Barneys brand. I am delighted to be part of this new chapter."

Yet Doonan's colleagues are reportedly seeing the effects these new developments are having on Doonan personally. One source noted that recently the always smiling Doonan, "didn't seem to be his normal self — he seems pretty sad about the whole business." We truly hope this all works out in his favor. We love you Simon!

-Alia Rajput

Article Source: The New York Post

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