The Top PR Firms in Fashion & Luxury Retail

With the fashion industry still finding its footing amid the ever-changing social media landscape, the PR power players on this list are getting creative in making their luxury fashion clients stand out.

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From King Louis XIV’s use of fashion as a political tool at the court of Versailles to the stockingless women’s looks during World War II (due to nylon being reallocated to manufacture parachutes), fashion has always both reflected and shaped the cultural conversation. But the technology boom of the past decade has drastically changed that dialogue, making fashion (and practically every other industry) more accessible. As Savannah Engel, the founder of Savi PR, puts it, this latest evolution has also created a “Wild West” in fashion marketing.

Where things were more structured and formulaic in the past, boutique and global agencies today need to be well-versed in everything from creating press materials and securing traditional media placement to dreaming up (and executing) buzzworthy collaborations and activations. Then, of course, there’s the VIP and influencer component, which, thanks to social media, has become a primary focus—one that’s exciting as it allows brands to engage with customers directly but also presents the challenge of standing out among the endless content.

“The thinking behind our work needs to become more strategic to cut through the noise and deliver results,” PR Consulting founder and president Pierre Rougier tells Observer, adding, “Fashion PR in the traditional sense has become obsolete.” In addition to using social media to share content that’s both creative and in keeping with a brand’s ethos, it’s also an effective sales tool. “With social media increasingly competing against web and email as a main channel of conversion, there has never been a more interesting time to shop as a consumer.” Linda Gaunt, founder and president of Linda Gaunt Communications, elaborates. “Users no longer have to leave their apps to shop, and we recognize the importance of capturing users’ attention in real-time.”

KCD Worldwide CEO Rachna Shah confirms that this has created a tougher retail environment, but it has also presented agencies and brands with the opportunity to get more creative. “Brands are being more intention-driven in their choices; they are developing events and activations that cater to the top clients but appeal to the media and VIP,” she says, noting that this also means placing importance on regional growth.

But at the end of the day, the leaders on this list (some of whom helped build and solidify the images of brands like Armani and Michael Kors before creating their own firms) agree that successfully engaging consumers still starts with establishing a firm partnership between agency and client. “I think after Covid, people and brands are really yearning for interaction and a sense of community,” says Engel. “This shift in our industry means we have to think differently, but we’re still intimately involved with brands from events and partnerships to analytics and even design meetings so that we can build a real community; that’s what it’s all about.” Ahead, meet the creatives writing the new rules of luxury fashion.

Visit our Power Index to view the entire 2024 PR Power Series.

Karla Otto

There are global agencies, and then there’s Karla Otto; a commanding presence with 14 offices that span every major fashion capital around the world, from New York to Milan to Tokyo. Founded in 1982 by model-turned-public relations maven Karla Otto, the agency represents clients across fashion, beauty, lifestyle, hospitality and even the arts (the prestigious Opéra National De Paris being the most notable among the latter sector). Presently led by chief executive officer Alexander Werz and chief business officer Lissy Von Schwarzkopf, Karla Otto recently added Ferragamo to its portfolio of luxury fashion clients, which also includes names like Givenchy, Loewe and Valentino.
“Our international community of experts allow us to develop and execute campaigns with global impact and local relevance, spanning communications, talent, creative, strategy and experiential,” Von Schwarzkopf tells Observer. But what’s truly unique to Karla Otto is the data that it’s able to provide its luxury fashion houses (and all of its clients), which provides more clarity in a fast-changing industry. “We formally launched a new Insights division, which leverages our unique position and expertise in the global luxury industry to provide research, data analysis, strategy and measurable solutions for our clients,” says Von Schwarzkopf. Having established this new division in 2023, Karla Otto works with partner agencies Lefty and Ctzar to publish data-based industry reports, such as the agency’s recently-shared calculations that Paris Fashion Week had garnered the city a record-breaking $314.6 million in earned media value.
“The balance between global and local is essential, and the success of our agency is the sum of amazing local market leads in the U.S., EMEA, APAC and divisional leads across all categories,” Von Schwarzkopf says, noting that despite its global presence, Karla Otto has always prioritized a “local boutique feel.”

Lissy Von Schwarzkopf and Alexander Werz Photo by Madison McGaw/

KCD Worldwide

With more than 50 luxury brands among its clients, from Valentino and Versace to Marc Jacobs and Off-White, KCD Worldwide is a fashion force to be reckoned with. Though founded in 1984 by Kezia Keeble, Paul Cavaco and John Duka (that’s where the KCD comes from), the agency has been largely led by Julie Mannion and the late Ed Filipowski since 1994. But all that changed in December of 2023 when KCD announced Rachna Shah as the new global CEO of its offices in New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris.

Mentored by Filipowski, who passed away in 2020, Shah joined the company in 1997 as an assistant publicist. She’s held many titles in the years since, cultivating expertise across each of the agency’s full-service areas, from media relations and creative production to digital, where Shah was the driving force behind KCD’s digital integration. “We develop strategies that are creative-led, we produce and manage events with the utmost meticulous care and planning and we have a dedicated staff that brings expertise from many different backgrounds and points of view,” Shah tells Observer of KCD’s strengths.

In addition to expanding upon its senior leadership in 2023 (KCD welcomed Adrien Giraux as EVP and Gretchen Vater as managing director of its Global Creative Group), the agency took on projects like the LACMA Art + Film Gala, the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s Albie Awards and Tommy Hilfiger’s return to New York Fashion Week. Having also added clients like Sonia Rykiel and Rochas to the KCD roster, luxury fashion is still at the forefront of the firm’s partnerships. But as part of KCD’s next evolution, the global agency also named Tom Ford Beauty to its client roster, establishing its first-ever luxury beauty vertical in 2023, with plans for expansion in 2024 and beyond.

Rachna Shah Photo by Sansho Scott/

Linda Gaunt Communications

In the 20 years since Linda Gaunt established her eponymous boutique agency, Linda Gaunt Communications (LGC) has expanded its luxury client roster to include hospitality with the likes of Bulgari Hotels & Resorts and accessories with brands like high-end jeweler Graff. But luxury fashion is still a primary focus for the agency, which is especially fitting when you consider that Gaunt honed her expertise in the luxury fashion space at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman before joining the team at Giorgio Armani in 1990, where she would remain until 2002 as the EVP of Marketing and Communications.

“It’s really about building a brand from the inside and understanding how to support all aspects of the business,” Gaunt tells Observer of her New York City-based firm. While Gaunt’s experience in the industry informs part of that understanding, the LGC founder and president also credits her 20-person team, many of whom have been with the agency for 10 or more years. “Being a real partner, and not just getting the work done, but thinking deeply and seeing the opportunity is a point of pride,” she says, adding that she strives to create a “collaborative and supportive” environment.

From media relations and events to influencer marketing, LGC’s tailored approach has helped some of its longtime clients to engage in cultural conversation in new ways. At the start of 2024, menswear designer Todd Snyder returned to the runway after four years, skipping New York to be the opening show and featured designer at Pitti Uomo in Florence. And LGC helped redefine the typical CEO announcement with sustainability-driven Eileen Fisher and her responsible brand transition. That put the focus on the legacy brand’s groundbreaking sustainability efforts, garnering attention from a new generation in the process.

In addition to its longtime clients (Gaunt notes that Todd Snyder has been with the agency since the menswear label launched in 2011), LGC welcomed several luxury fashion clients to its firm in 2023, including American heritage brand Woolrich and emerging labels Saint Art and Mayson the Label.

Linda Gaunt Linda Gaunt Communications

PR Consulting

  • Pierre Rougier, Founder/President & Sylvie Picquet-Damesme, Partner/CEO

A list of longstanding luxury fashion clients that includes Alaïa, Louis Vuitton and Dries Van Noten doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of PR Consulting, which also represents some of the biggest names across lifestyle and hospitality (think The Mark Hotel, Hotel Fouquet’s and Sant Ambroeus Hospitality Group). With offices in New York City and Paris, the global agency is headed by Pierre Rougier, who founded PRC in 1997, and Sylvie Picquet-Damesme, who serves as partner and CEO.
With the belief that today’s public relations should function synergistically across all categories, PR Consulting helped to integrate hospitality with the biggest night in fashion by expanding upon The Mark’s history as the Upper East Side hotel of choice for celebrities prepping for the annual Met Gala. “By working with top media outlets, entertainment networks and photographers, we offered the first look of guests departing for the 2023 Costume Institute Gala,” Picquet-Damesme shares. Another point of pride for PR Consulting is its longtime partnership with the legendary French fashion house Alaïa, and its recent resurgence under creative director Pieter Mulier (appointed in 2021 as the first creative director following founder Azzedine Alaïa’s passing in 2017). Working with Mulier to build the designer’s presence while maintaining the Maison’s vision, PR Consulting helped Alaïa to launch a physical store in the U.S. in 2023—its first since the original New York City flagship closed in 1991.
As well as signing fashion brands like Setchu and ME + EM and luxury jewelry manufacturer Jaeger-LeCoultre, PR Consulting also prioritized its digital approach. “In 2024, we have formalized our extensive experience with the influencer, VIP and special events components of our communications work into standalone departments of the agency,” Rougier tells Observer.

Pierre Rougier and Sylvie Picquet Damesme Photo by Joe Schildhorn/


It’s been less than eight years since Savannah Engel (who got her public relations start with Michael Kors and later Barney’s) decided to branch out on her own, but she’s quickly set herself apart from the traditional PR set. With the launch of Savi in 2017, Engel put the focus on community, working with fashion clients like Markarian, PatBO and Ciao Lucia across all areas of their business to connect with customers in a new way.

“We really want to change the game,” Engel tells Observer of expanding brands’ reach beyond traditional press. “I came from the old world of fashion, which was quite structured and inaccessible in a way, but our industry has changed so much, so quickly,” she explains. “Social media has opened up the fashion industry so that it’s accessible to everyone. In the U.S., it’s not just about New York, Miami and Los Angeles, anymore; there are consumers across the country to consider, and they are culturally very different.”

To keep up with these changes, Engel and her New York City-based team, which doubled in size in 2023, prioritize brand-building through collaborations and VIP and influencer relationships. And while that can mean dressing Beyoncé (as was the case when the singer wore custom PatBO during her Renaissance world tour in 2023), Engel notes that it can also be something less traditional, such as working with a chef in Memphis, Tennessee, or throwing a block party in support of a charitable organization (the latter of which Savi did for newly-signed luxury sunglass label Krewe when they shut down NYC’s Gansevoort Street for a New Orleans-inspired crawfish bowl that raised funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering).

But before all of that, Engel started the year in Washington, D.C., alongside Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill and Dr. Jill Biden. Attending the ceremony that placed Dr. Jill Biden’s inaugural look (created by O’Neill) alongside the First Ladies Collection in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Engel spoke of the sense of pride she had in celebrating the historical moment with O’Neill—a longtime friend of Engel’s and Savi’s first official client. And that can be said for each of the brands Savi works with. “I’m very lucky that my team is super passionate about what they do, and we’re a family,” says Engel, who notes they’ll be working on some exciting rebrands in the year ahead. “Our clients are family, too, and when they have a win, we’re cheering with them.”

Savannah Engel Savannah Engel

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