Public relations maven Karla Otto founded her eponymous company in 1982 after a short career as a model exposed her to the fashion industry; since then, she has helped brands like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Prada, Marni, and Jil Sander expand and promote their businesses abroad. With a full suite of services including showrooms, public relations strategies, media consultations, show production, and event planning, the agency has seven offices all around the world and now handles PR for over 70 brands like Céline, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Hussein Chalayan, and Simone Rocha, as well as beauty and lifestyle brands.
German-born Otto was a former runway model in the 1970s who walked in Milan, Tokyo, and Paris before settling in Milan to work in the press department of Italian fashion brand Elio Fiorucci. After amassing a few years of experience, Otto set out on her own and quickly grew her client list to include some of the world’s most prominent fashion labels.
Some of her innovations include hosting local showrooms for designer and brand clients, so that editors and members of the press no longer had to travel to the designer’s own showroom. Furthermore, under Otto’s guidance, Jil Sander grew from a local German womenswear label to an international fashion brand. She also upholds the stereotype of wearing all black, as she told Harper’s Bazaar: “I prefer to focus on the shape and the texture. Besides, when you travel as much as I do—I'm in a different city every week—everything must go with everything.”