As co-founder and chief executive officer of Proenza Schouler, Shirley Cook has overseen the label’s rapid ascension from school project to lucrative luxury brand with sales of over $50 million, a strong accessories division, and a total of five CFDA awards, including three for best womenswear designers. The brand is currently the hottest ticket at New York Fashion Week.
Along with negotiating the terms of a 2007 investment by private equity firm Permira and subsequent investment by a group of 12 private investors, Cook has also overseen the brands international retail strategy. In 2012, the brand launched its first flagship store in New York. A revamped e-commerce presence was launched in May 2013.
Cook was originally introduced to designers and co-founders Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez through a mutual school friend. An alumnus of New York University, where she obtained a Bachelors of Arts in religious studies in 2001, Cook began helping the young designers with sales receipts and business questions whilst working as a PR assistant at Helmut Lang and was officially brought on board to oversee the lable’s business operations after Barneys New York purchased the entirety of McCollough and Hernandez’s school thesis collection.