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"I am so sad to see him go," Sui said on Tuesday. "I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful person to work with, and such a great balance to me."
Sui credited Pellegrino with understanding the designer's role and giving her the full support she needed. She said he was instrumental in making her business international, helping her "through the intricacies of working overseas. We expanded our distribution to Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and now China through these years, along with distributing the licensed accessories too.
"We really built a global business and the newest horizons are the Middle East, and someone offered to build up India," Sui added. "Along with the licenses, Michael allowed for business to go global."
Pellegrino, who before joining Sui ran his own consulting firm, advising small designer companies on financial planning and merchandising, said he decided to retire for several reasons. He will be 65 in November, and hopes to devote more time to travel and to personal opportunities, including charitable organizations such as Meals on Wheels.
"I will be traveling for most of the summer, and in the fall, I plan to be involved in community activities, giving back what I had been given," said Pellegrino, who studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and got his big introduction to the industry at Halston Enterprises Inc., where he originally was vice president of licensing and marketing for seven years during the designer's heyday. "I think working with Anna has probably been the best experience, because it is truly run as a global business that develops product at a designer level. It afforded me the opportunity to travel through Asia and other markets and help develop licenses."
In the mid-Nineties, Pellegrino was at Halston International for a second time. As general manager, he helped launch that company's first Halston signature collection. He was managing director of Carolina Herrera from 1984 to 1996.
Sui said she hasn't found a successor, and added that the suitable candidate may not take over the exact same role. "I am thinking of different scenarios and have been talking to different people," she said. "Michael is a hard one to replace."