Natalie Massenet at LeWeb at Les Docks Paris conference
13 May 1965
Los Angeles, California
|Occupation||Founder and chairman of net-a-porter; chair of british fashion council|
|Spouse(s)||Arnaud Massenet (divorced)|
|Parent(s)||Robert L Rooney (d.2003) and Barbara F. Rooney (née Jones)|
Dame Natalie Sara Massenet, DBE (née Rooney; born 13 May 1965) is a fashion entrepreneur and former journalist, who founded the designer fashion portal Net-a-Porter. From 2013 to 2017, she was the chairman of the British Fashion Council. In 2017 alongside Nick Brown, she co-founded Imaginary Ventures. 
Background and early career
Massenet was born in Los Angeles, California on 13 May 1965, the daughter of American journalist turned film publicist Bob L. Rooney and Barbara Jones, a British model with Chanel and movie stand-in for Sophia Loren. She spent her early childhood in Paris, moving back to LA in 1976 with her father after her parents divorced.
Her first job after graduating from high school was in a menswear shop in Los Angeles and Massenet then attended UCLA, studying English Literature. After graduating, she spent a year in Tokyo working as a fashion model and stylist. Other early jobs included working as a receptionist at Universal Studios and assisting at Italian magazine Moda, where she worked with the then emerging photographer Mario Testino.
Massenet began her career as a fashion journalist at Women's Wear Daily (WWD) in 1993. She then moved on to Tatler in the UK, where she worked as assistant to Isabella Blow and her colleagues included Lucy Yeomans. She left to go freelance in 1998.
Massenet founded Net-a-Porter in 2000 in London as a website in magazine format for selling designer fashion. The idea came about after Massenet was attempting to source products online for a fashion shoot. The business was launched from Massenet's flat in Chelsea and she raised the £1.2m start-up costs with the help of her then husband. Initially the business operation was so low-key that Net-a-Porter's trademark black delivery boxes were stacked up in the bath.
The concept behind the site was to be able to 'click' on an image of an outfit within a magazine format and buy it. In an interview for The Wall Street Journal, Massenet said that she'd walked away from her dream career in journalism to take the idea forward and it took her several years to realise that she had created a magazine format for the 21st century. Initially, the idea of selling high fashion online was unappealing to designers and investors, who couldn't imagine selling goods without a physical retail outlet, however in 2001 Massenet persuaded Roland Mouret to sell his first collection via the site. By 2004, the company was profitable and won the best fashion shop award at the British Fashion Awards.
The company launched a fashion discount site The Outnet in 2009 and in 2010 Massenet sold Net-a-Porter to Swiss luxury goods holding company Richemont for a figure estimated at £50m, remaining involved with the company as executive chairman and an investor. In 2011, a menswear site Mr Porter was established; beauty was added to the site in early 2013 under the leadership of David Olsen.
As of September 2013, Net-a-Porter employed 2,600 people in the UK, US and Hong Kong, with further offices in Shanghai and fulfilment centres on the outskirts of three cities. Net-a-Porter Group is now estimated as a £350m company.
In early 2014, it launched a print magazine called Porter, with an associated app and digital version of the magazine.
Ahead of a huge merger with the Yoox Group, Massenet stepped down as the executive chairman of Net-a-Porter in September 2015.
British Fashion Council role
Massenet took over as chairman of the British Fashion Council in 2013. In this honorary role, which normally carries a three-year commitment, she is responsbible for steering London Fashion Week and overseeing the Council's other activities to promote British fashion design in the UK and overseas. An article in 2013, suggested she has boosted London's reputation as an international fashion centre.
Massenet co-founded Imaginary Ventures in 2017 with Nick Brown, formerly of 14W Ventures. Imaginary is a Venture Capital Fund that invests in early–stage opportunities at the intersection of retail and technology in Europe and the US.
Massenet was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the fashion industry in 2009 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to the fashion and retail industries. In 2013, Massenet was made a Woman of the Year by US Glamour magazine. In 2014, she was named as one of the 100 most influential people by Time.
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