From small-town roots in Indiana to the big time as head of Burberry, a $2 billion fashion empire and one of the most widely recognized brands in the world, Angela Ahrendts takes it all in her stride, propelling the company into the digital age without compromising the brand’s soul—or her own:
Iman and David Bowie offer her air kisses as the sleek crowd gulps prosecco and wild salmon hors d’oeuvres on a June evening in the rotunda in Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center. Trey Laird, advertising guru for Gap, squeezes her slender black-lace-clad shoulder and whispers “Fantastic” into her ear. They assume this is the best night of the year for Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, that life couldn’t get much sweeter. On the heels of the strong results the company reported the previous week in London, Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer for the $2.2-billion-in-sales luxury brand, has just snagged the prestigious International award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. As the packed space throbs to Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro,” Ahrendts beams appropriately. Clothing-rack-slender at 6′3″ in stilettos, she looks as much a part of the scene as the models Mario Testino shoots for her campaigns. But the truth is that this is not the height of her year. That came a month earlier in a wilderness as foreign to these fashion insiders as a pair of sensible pumps: Indiana. – read more at WSJ
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.