Meet The Powerhouse Who's Propelling Your Favourite Brands Forward
Think of luxury PR and the name Karla Otto should be top of mind. That’s because the global brand communications agency – with offices in Paris, New York, Shanghai, London, Los Angeles, Beijing, Milan and Hong Kong – has worked tirelessly for nearly 40 years to position itself at the forefront of an increasingly competitive industry.
Speaking to Global Executive Director Alexander Werz, we find out more about his unique career journey and personal experiences that lead him to working at one of the world’s leading public relations and brand strategy agencies.
You studied at Studio Berçot in Paris. When did you first realise that you wanted to be part of the fashion world?
I was dreaming of working in fashion since I was 10 years old. I knew I wanted to be in Paris and work with the best designers.
But before pursuing that, you served a year in the military. What did this experience teach you?
Discipline and anticipation.
You had the honour of interning at various French brands, including Mugler, Montana and Frederic Molenac. Why was this so crucial to the success that you’ve had in your career?
After school I started to work as an intern at an important fashion house, and I was mostly observing and looking into collection preparation. I was working 18 hours a day before the shows, but this was part of the dream and I still love it.
You played an important role in launching the Cacharel brand in your native Germany. What did this experience teach you?
Cacharel was a very important French brand in the late ’80s and ’90s, but they didn’t have any press in Germany. As I was always quite good at organising as well as connecting people, I started to reach out to German press and we became rather famous in Germany.
Fast forward a bit and you moved in a slightly different direction when you joined Bureau Betak NY as Director and then OBO as Global Partner. What attracted you to event and fashion show production, which has heavily shaped your career today?
I came to New York because of a very famous model friend who said to me, “You have been in Paris for 10 years, but it would be great to also experience New York". I came to New York just looking for a job, either working as a designer or working on fashion show productions. I got a job three weeks later, and I started to work in fashion production at Bureau Betak. And I have to say that, at the time, I didn’t intentionally want to stop working on the design side but it was just a natural evolution to understand fashion with a 360 degree perspective. It was something very creative, and at the same time, an important part in order to have the full picture of the fashion business.
When and how did you first meet your long-term friend and supporter Karla Otto?
I met Karla 20 years ago because we had clients in common – she on the PR side and myself on the production side. We always stayed connected but really connected nine years ago when she asked me to join Karla Otto, and since then, it has been a fantastic journey and so much fun.
You and Otto are both, as personal brands as well as a team, leading global luxury powerhouses. Did your German backgrounds have anything to do with the special bond between you two?
When I started to work in fashion, I always thought that being German was actually a disadvantage because there was a perception that my Italian and French peers were more advanced in the fashion business. Later in my career, and also when I met Karla, I understood that we too have our strengths. We are very disciplined, we can multitask easily and we have leadership skills. I would say I have a German education but I have an international mindset today.
What excites you about the luxury fashion industry in the Middle East, especially with the recent partnership between Dubai-based luxury communications agency The Qode?
For all of the brands and talents with whom we work, the Middle East represents an invaluable platform. Given our relationship with The Qode, it felt quite natural to join forces with such a well-known agency that has achieved so much success. After working on numerous clients together, the time came to partner with Ayman Fakoussa and Dipesh Depala. We are proud of our partnership and very much looking forward to evolving and developing our work together in this region.
From left to right: Ayman Fakoussa, Karla Otto, Alexander Werz, Isabelle Chouvet and Dipesh Depala