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Horspool joins Oasis to oversee more feminine design direction

Barbara Horspool, the outgoing group design director at New Look, will build on Oasis’s feminine and contemporary handwriting when she joins the women’s young fashion chain as design director this summer.

Horspool, the driving force behind New Look’s fashion credentials, quit the fast-fashion retailer after agreeing to join Oasis.

Her decision came before a shake-up of New Look’s buying, merchandising and design function, with the appointment of former Primark buying and merchandising director Julian Kilmartin as group buying director for clothing, leading to the ousting of group buying director for clothing Roger Wightman, a New Look veteran of 21 years.

Horspool, who was also formerly head of womenswear design at Marks & Spencer, will build on the repositioning of Oasis towards a more feminine handwriting, a process that began last year spearheaded by creative director Nadia Jones and overseen by Derek Lovelock, chairman of Aurora Fashions, the group which owns Oasis as well as Karen Millen, Coast and Warehouse.

Jones, who has worked at Oasis for 14 years, will stay on as a consultant for Oasis after Horspool’s arrival. She has been pursuing a number of personal projects in recent months.

Oasis managing director Liz Evans said: “Nadia and the team have worked really hard to re-establish [Oasis’s] handwriting and Barbara will build on that. The Oasis values are femininity and contemporary. Barbara will combine those values with our affordable aspiration positioning.”

Horspool’s departure from New Look will be a blow to the chain, which suffered a slump in sales in the latter half of 2010.

Only Carolyn MacKenzie, group head of merchandising, remains from the original buying, merchandising and design team lined up in May 2008 as part of New Look’s management reshuffle in which Carl McPhail became chief executive. Horspool joined in March 2007.

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