Ken Downing’s career in the fashion and retail industry has been nothing short of legendary. His creative vision, brilliant brand storytelling, and unerring eye for detail have paved the way to leadership roles at some of the most renowned names in fashion–Neiman Marcus, Hearst Publications, and, now, Halston.
Today Mr. Downing is the Creative Director for the Halston and H Halston brands while also serving as Chief Creative Officer for Halston’s parent company, Xcel Brands. In addition to Halston, Xcel nameplates include C. Wonder by Christian Siriano, Judith Ripka, LOGO by Lori Goldstein, Victor Glemaud, and a minority stake in Isaac Mizrahi.
At Halston, Mr. Downing is revitalizing this iconic American brand for a new customer. Roy Halston Frowick’s groundbreaking designs continue to influence fashion today and epitomize American style. While Mr. Downing’s new Halston honors the brand’s namesake, his collections remain fully rooted in the present, with modern interpretations of easy, sensual glamour for both day and evening. Mr. Downing’s first full collection for Halston will be unveiled for merchants and buyers at New York Fashion Week in September.
Prior to joining Xcel, Mr. Downing served as Creative Brand Officer for Hearst Luxury Collection Commerce at Hearst Publications. He oversaw the vision, creation, and marketing strategy for the publishing house’s editor-infused digital retail shopping destination for Elle, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country.
From 2019 – 2021, Mr. Downing served as Chief Creative Officer of Triple Five Group, owner and developer of one of the most ambitious shopping malls in the world, American Dream. Within the company, and American Dream especially, Mr. Downing managed design, advertising, marketing, public relations and special events.
The majority of Mr. Downing’s career was spent at Neiman Marcus. He joined the storied luxury retailer in 1990 as the Director of Fashion and Visual Merchandising at its Beverly Hills store on Wilshire Boulevard. Over the next thirty years, he rose through the company’s corporate ranks to become its Senior Vice President and Fashion Director. In this role, he was responsible for setting the fashion and trend direction for the company, serving as the public face of the retailer, and introducing Neiman Marcus’s customers to countless rising stars in the fashion world that are now household names today.
Mr. Downing has also served on multiple boards, including the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Mr. Downing has collaborated on his own signature lines, including with the brands PopSugar and Nest Fragrances, and is regularly invited to speak at museums (such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the St. Louis Museum of Art) on the subject and intersection of fashion and art.
Mr. Downing holds a bachelor’s degree in Apparel Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, NY.