Mike Isaac

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Why Did Apple Just Hire a Fashion Industry CEO?

Paul Deneve, the 53-year-old chief executive officer of haute couture fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, is headed to Cupertino.

Deneve, as was first reported by Adam Satariano of Bloomberg and confirmed to us by Apple, will join the company in an unspecified role.

“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,” an Apple spokeswoman told AllThingsD in a statement.

Naturally, one would assume that Deneve was being hired to take over Apple’s massive retail operations, a position that has proven difficult to fill for the tech giant. Apple fired former Dixons exec John Browett late last year, after only a nine-month tenure as SVP of retail.

But Deneve supposedly won’t be working on retail for Apple. So the question remains — what, exactly, will Deneve be doing there?

Here’s a clue: Deneve is actually a former Apple employee, spending the better part of a decade as a sales and marketing manager at Apple Europe from 1990 to 1997.

Perhaps it has something to do with what Deneve is familiar with. Marketing luxury goods, after all, is what taking the helm of Yves Saint Laurent is all about (not to mention his stints at Courreges, Nina Ricci and Lanvin). Not a far cry to go back to marketing Apple products, the high-design luxury goods of the tech world.

Or if you’re keen on the idea that Apple is fast moving into the world of wearables — namely, iWatches, or things of that sort — perhaps a fashion exec is the exact sort of person you’d need working on it.

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