A paragon of effortless chic, Net-A-Porter founder and streetstyle darling Natalie Massenet is the working woman’s icon.
Raised in Paris and Los Angeles, Massenet studied literature at UCLA, and went on to work as an assistant film director, stylist and journalist at Vanity Fair before moving on to the project that would become an industry model.
The journalist was inundated with requests from readers exclaiming that they wanted to buy an item featured in the magazine and couldn’t find it, and she had an idea to bring fashion closer to the customers.
In a time when the dot-com bubble had burst and online ventures were closing left and right, Massenet, after experiencing a few arduous shopping experiences herself, decided to bring luxury shopping online.
At first, investors and industry experts brushed her off, declaring that women would never shop online, especially for luxury items.
But if her fleet of dedicated service trucks carrying the signature black, silk-ribbon-adorned boxes around the world says anything, it’s that they were wrong. After flirting with the idea of starting a chain of coffee shops, Net-A-Porter, originally called ‘What’s New Pussycat?’, started in a small studio in Chelsea. The company now employs 600 buyers, stylists, and editors in both London and New York.
A large aspect of Net-A-Porter’s success comes from not only the caliber of designers that the shop stocks, but also the editorial style layouts that show that Massenet took lessons from her styling and editing days and injected them into her online venture.
If selling luxury designs with undeniable ease wasn’t enough to attract the elite customers that the website needs to survive, Massenet made shopping in the recession less flashy.
The now infamous stealth packaging provided the ladies-who-lunch a perfect gateway for luxury spending, without the gauche flaunting of labeled packages.
Net-A-Porter was recently acquired by Richmont, the company that owns luxury brands such as Cartier and Montblanc, and at the time of sale the company was valued at $533 Million.
Massenet, who will stay on as Executive Chairman, is said to have made over $70 Million from the sale.