How Kari Allen Changed Versace Watches
by roberta naas
Kari Allen, one of the few female execs in the watch biz, is changing the game at Versace Timepieces.
Kari Allen’s shrewd leadership has changed the face of Versace timepieces.
The global watch industry has long been dominated by men; only in the past few decades have women begun taking on leadership roles. One such pioneer is Kari Allen, president of Versace Timepieces in America and the Caribbean, who has helped raise the formerly boutiqueonly brand to new heights by positioning Versace as a power player in national specialty and jewelry retail stores. “Versace is widely recognized as a leader in luxury and renowned for its classic elegance in the world of glamour and fashion,” says Allen of Versace, which recently unveiled several new lines at watch mega-convention Baselworld. “The evolution of the Versace style is demonstrated in the perfect balance between the classical and modern. It is this combination of Italian style and Swissmade precision and innovation that attracted me to [the brand].”
Before taking the helm at Versace Timepieces two years ago, Allen held influential posts at Gucci, Boucheron, Charriol, TAG Heuer, and Damiani, among others. Here, the bicoastal executive gives an overview of “time” from the top.
Versace’s vibrant Spring collection blends Swiss technical rigor with Italian flair.
What are the keys to your success at Versace and in the industry?
KARI ALLEN: I look at things from a practical business standpoint. I love the business of watches more than the watches themselves. I can sell a dream, but when you get to the marketing side, it’s about nuts and bolts.
What are the most exciting elements of the Versace watches being released this spring?
KA: Our new energetic colors for the women’s Spring watch collections of Vanity and Vanitas—turquoise, purple, orange, and yellow—perfectly convey the spirit that animates Versace. My personal favorite from the collection is the new V-Signature watch, [which features a] Medusa head on the dial and Greca pattern on the bezel and bracelet. The watch is mounted on a leather bracelet, and the narrow top part can be slipped out of the wider section for a more traditional style and fit—so it is two watches in one.
As an executive, wife, and mother, how do you manage your time?
KA: Women are multitaskers by our very natures; it is our strength, and this is what makes us valuable to companies. We know how to see many sides and how to handle multiple issues at one time. The challenge is to remain in the moment and keep an eye on time so it doesn’t get away from us. When you work this hard, you’d better love what you do, but it isn’t always easy—especially as a working mom. Family is what really makes life important. You have to make the effort to be present… because you don’t get a redo!
photography by emily berl