LONDON — Jean-Marc Gaucher, the man who saved the French ballet shoe company Repetto in the 1990s, died Tuesday, at 70 years old.
He was the chief executive officer and president of the brand. His death was confirmed by his wife, Catherine.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Jean-Marc. Jean-Marc was a lover of life. He lived it with passion, talent and all his visionary qualities,” she said in a statement, adding that Gaucher was surrounded by his family and loved ones.
Gaucher took over as CEO in 1999 when the brand’s popularity declined after the death of its owner, Rose Repetto, who started the company in 1947 after creating ballet shoes for her son.
He bought control of Repetto from the French bank Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires for $18.8 million.
In June 1999, Gaucher said Repetto had sales of $18 million in 1998 and slightly more than $300,000 in profits.
He expanded the business into international limelight and defined it as a luxury shoe brand by expanding its categories into ready-to-wear, small leather goods and fragrances.
Repetto opened its first store in New York’s SoHo in fall 2015.
Gaucher was born in Montreuil, France; his father worked at the car manufacturer Renault and his mother was a shopkeeper.
His career as a businessman properly kicked off in the late ‘80s, where he started working with Reebok on their exclusive distribution of products in France.
In 1994, he became CEO of Reebok France and vice president of Reebok International before taking over at Repetto.
Gaucher helped the shoe company slide into the luxury sector via collaborations with big fashion houses.
Repetto collaborated with Issey Miyake in 2000, followed by Yohji Yamamoto in 2002, Comme des Garçons in 2004 and Karl Lagerfeld in 2009.
He launched the Dance for Life foundation in 2007 as part of the brand’s 60th anniversary to support dance schools around the world, from Iraq, Cuba, Haiti, South Africa, Brazil to Ukraine.
Gaucher worked closely with his daughter, Charlotte Gaucher-Holmann, as he prepared to hand the keys over to her.
At the start of 2022, he appointed Laurence Lévy as CEO of the brand and following his death, Gaucher-Holmann took over as president.
Lévy graduated from French business school HEC and started her career as a strategy consultant at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman before joining multinational food corporation Danone’s corporate strategy department.
She joined L’Oréal in 2012, which is where she met Gaucher-Holmann.
Lévy held a variety of positions for the next decade in the group’s travel retail division, culminating in her appointment as global deputy general manager for Yves Saint Laurent Beauty.
She had a six-month stint at Repetto in 2007 before rejoining in January 2022 as its strategic director.
Gaucher-Holmann, 36, spent more than 12 years at L’Oréal, in its luxury division as well as Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent brands.
This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.