Christine Beauchamp, former president and chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, and Tracy Gardner, former president of retail and direct at J. Crew, will serve as the inaugural Guess Visiting Professors at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
Beauchamp, who held senior-level positions for the Limited Brands from 2003 to 2007, will inaugurate the Guess Professorship in the fall of 2012. She will be followed in the spring 2013 semester by Gardner, who helped lead J. Crew from 2004 to 2010 and who is currently a creative advisor to the Gap.
The chair was established this year through a $2.5 million gift from the Guess Foundation and an additional $250,000 gift from the Maurice Marciano Family Foundation. It was created to teach students to fuse the creative side and the business side of fashion.
“A lot of college students have very creative minds and a vision for fashion, but are missing knowledge of the financial aspects of the industry,” said Maurice Marciano, founder and longtime senior executive at Guess, Inc. “Christine and Tracy are ideally suited to linking these integral elements of our business for NYU students.”
As part of their duties as chair holders, Beauchamp and Gardner will each teach a course at Gallatin and make at least one public presentation during their tenures. This may include giving a lecture, hosting a workshop, or leading symposia on how to connect creativity, design, and business.
“The Gallatin School has long explored ways to combine practice with classroom teaching,” said Susanne Wofford, dean of NYU Gallatin. “I am excited about Christine and Tracy’s enthusiasm for undertaking this unique teaching challenge, and I believe they will give our students truly unmatched learning opportunities.”
In addition to her experience at the Limited Brands and guiding Ann Taylor as brand president from 2008 to 2012, Beauchamp has extensive experience in finance and consulting.
“She worked at Goldman, so she has the financial background,” said Howard Socol, the former CEO of Barneys New York who served on the selection committee. “She worked at Boston Consultants, so she has the consulting background, and she has fashion sense, of course.”
“Christine also has great strength in the teaching side,” Socol continued. “Some people are great at what they do, but don’t teach well. She has really thought about the class and came with great ideas about how she could approach it.”
He also noted that Beauchamp worked closely with fashion luminary Les Wexner, founder and chairman of the Limited Brands, whom she counts as a mentor and adviser.
Before Gardner arrived at J. Crew, she established her reputation at the Gap, Inc., where she was vice president and senior vice president of merchandising from 1999 to 2004. She returned to the company earlier this year as a creative adviser.
A protégé of fashion industry visionary Mickey Drexler, who revolutionized specialty retail, Gardner has exactly the skills and experience that will make the professorship meaningful to students, according to Marciano.
“In our industry, the people who understand the vision of the designers and can translate that into business success are called merchants,” Marciano said.
“The best merchants can focus the designers on understanding the brand and building a collection that really addresses the customer. Merchants have the skills to anticipate the needs of the customer and to give them what they want at the right time and in the right locations,” he continued.
Over the past two years, Gallatin School students have won eight scholarships from the Fashion Scholarship Fund. Gallatin students have also taken the lead in designing annual fashion shows with student-designed clothes displayed by NYU student models.
Gallatin is a liberal arts college of 1,400 undergraduate students and 200 master’s students within New York University. Its B.A. and M.A. programs in individualized study encourage students to develop an integrated, interdisciplinary program of study that combines courses taken in the various schools of NYU with independent studies, internships, and Gallatin’s own interdisciplinary seminars, pro-seminars, writing courses, and arts workshops. The school emphasizes excellent teaching, intensive student advising and mentoring, and a unique combination of program flexibility and academic rigor. For more, go to: http://www.gallatin.nyu.edu/.