Earlier this month, a curious tweet went up on the popular handle, @DKNY.
It was neither an outright goodbye nor an explainer. Rather, a subtle foreshadowing of what was to come.
“Dear Friends: I have a big announcement,” the casual tweet on Aug. 3, said. “For all personal of @leaveyourmarkXO book related tweets, please tweet & follow @AlizaLicht. Thx”
What was happening over at DKNY? Was Donna Karan International’s SVP of Global Communications Aliza Licht leaving for good? And was this really goodbye to DKNY PR Girl, the same personality who became an overnight social sensation from her birth in 2009?
A few days later on Aug. 6 a new explainer went out: “DKNY is going in exciting new directions! Stay tuned for what’s next! Going forward please tweet @AlizaLicht. DKNY PR Girl is all grown up!”
There were no other tweets from Licht, the personality behind the Twitter handle who ran PR for the huge fashion brand. No farewells, no explanations, no announcement of anything to come. For the usually forthright Licht, this seemed out of the ordinary.
With that last tweet, DKNY PR Girl disappeared forever, Mashable confirmed. By Saturday, her every tweet — from her live commentary during Scandal to her award show coverage — was completely deleted along with each of her Tumblr posts, including her infamous #showrequests. The chic, fire-haired avatar dissolved completely, replaced by a new, stolid corporate handle, which as of yet, has not tweeted anything. The DKNY Instagram account now contains only 12 photos. It says: “Work in progress. 9. 16. 15,” the date for its spring/summer 2016 show.
"DKNY is heading into an exciting new creative direction, starting with the upcoming September show," Licht told Mashable. "We are grateful for the community's support these past six years and hope they stay tuned for this newly consolidated DKNY digital universe."
Licht added that she would remain at the brand, business as usual. Only now the brand and its social media figurehead are two separate entities.
The direction comes with the brand’s newly hired CEO, Caroline Brown, who came from Carolina Herrera to take over Donna Karan International in January. The brand had also hired Hector Muelas as chief image officer from Apple, a major win.
“We find that the U.S. is a super interesting market,” said Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group to WWD. “It starts from having the right CEOs and building a team around that so we can be successful as we’ve been in Europe on a lot of projects.”
A few months after, there were major shakeups. Jane Chung, longtime creative director for DKNY and former student of Karan’s, was reportedly out. In came the heralded design darlings from Public School, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne. Patti Cohen, the brand’s longtime head of public relations, followed suit after more than 30 years of service.
Then Donna Karan announced her departure from the brand she started in the '90s, and left in June.
So it was unsurprising that social media maven Licht would see her last day as well.
It was surprising, however, that DKNY PR Girl even lasted this long.
Social media handles come and go in the vast landscape of the web. But DKNY PR Girl remained a relevant destination, for her sass and candid nature. Licht adopted the handle after a group conversation between executives at the company. After taking on Twitter, the brand organically adopted a Gossip Girl-type anonymous tone. Two years later in response to industry murmurs about the handle's identity, Licht was unveiled in a video.
Licht was able to provide a true behind-the-scenes look into the fashion industry while engaging with fans. It was one of the first times a fashion brand's social media handle became more than just an outlet to pump out news and marketing.
After coming out with her own book, Leave Your Mark, Licht decided it was time to promote her own persona as much as she did DKNY's.
"DKNY PR Girl's greatest appeal was her incredibly strong social media voice, which was, and is, intelligent, witty, sharp, funny, snarky and, at times, even inspirational," says Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez, bloggers behind the website TomandLorenzo.com and authors of Everyone Wants to Be or Do Me.
"Aliza's appeal was in her ability to connect with just about anyone and everyone literally anywhere," says Tina Craig of BagSnob.com. The two collaborated on a DKNY x Bagsnob handbag collection after meeting each other on Twitter. "Whether she was at a nail salon or dressing a celebrity, she gave us the ultimate inside look at the fashion industry."
Since the inception of the handle six years ago, the brand won four Fashion 2.0 awards for Best Twitter, one for Best Fashion Blog and was even nominated for a Mashable Award for Must Follow Brand on Social Media. But most importantly, Licht created a precedent for what brands are able to do on social media.
As for DKNY PR Girl, according to Licht, she isn't dead, she's just graduated from the Twittersphere.
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