Elana Nathan

Co-Owner & CEO, Peter Som. New York

By: Emily Ramshaw
Styling: Renée Rodenkirchen
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

We’ve met, photographed and interviewed a pretty significant number of fashion designers doing this thing we call our 9-to-5. Olivier Rousteing, Charlotte Olympia Dellal, Mary Katrantzou. It’s the same people you see profiled in every other monthly glossy. But it’s not so common that we meet the other, equally important, but somewhat unsung side—we’re talking business here, baby.

And probably part of the reason for this, uh, lack, is that we really don’t expect the executives to be like Elana Nathan, who to be fair, is the powerhouse CEO and co-owner of Peter Som. And by that we mean we don’t necessarily expect a work uniform of culottes and Céline leather jackets and piles of classic Hermès. Then again, we’re guessing that no one is really exactly like Nathan.

For one thing, there’s her beautiful Gramercy Park home, full of photographs by Nan Goldin (WANT). Then there’s her collection of Peter Som (she’s one to put her money where her, um, dress is), Alaïa, Junya Watanabe and CHANEL (NEED).

And finally there’s her indispensible sound bites (this whole interview should really be required reading for anyone with even a vague interest of making it big), like this one: "I wish there was more open discussion about nurturing women leaders in fashion business roles—I often hear about it on the creative side. People used to assume I was Peter’s PR attaché and I would always have to clarify. The best advice I can lend to women who aspire to the top, is work as hard as possible before you have kids if that’s your desired path, and then find a balance. Be present where you are. If you are with your family be with them, if you are at work, be at work. At the end of the day, the CEO has to make the tough calls and the hard decisions. That’s not always pleasant irrespective of gender." And that’s pretty much that, as far as we’re concerned.

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