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Natalie Massenet at the Net-a-Porter offices in London.

By Kate Betts

In 1998 as an editor at Tatler magazine in London, Natalie Massenet decided to make a radical career change. She was intrigued by the idea that women could potentially shop for luxury online the way they had traditionally shopped the pages of fashion magazines. Net-a-Porter, the first luxury retailer website was born in 2000. In 2009 she launched The Outnet, an outlet version of the site. Today, Massenet sells brands like Gucci, Prada and Alexander Wang to millions of women all over the globe. And now, with the introduction in 2011 of Mr Porter, she also sells menswear. This season, Massenet will put her retail muscle behind London Fashion Week as the British Fashion Council’s newly appointed chairman.

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What was your first break in fashion?
Victoria Brynner, Yul’s daughter, hired me in Los Angeles to work on fashion shoots for the Italian magazine MODA. I learned about fashion journalism working at Women’s Wear Daily in the West Coast bureau and then at Tatler magazine in London, but I cannot remember a time when I was not influenced by style. I was always surrounded by fashion people thanks to my mom, a former Chanel model.

How did you first become interested in the Internet?
It was when I was tasked by the legendary editor Isabella Blow with finding a Victorian blouse for a fashion shoot for The Sunday Times of London. I found exactly what I needed online from my home in London and purchased it from a woman in the States. It was like a mind explosion!

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What inspired the idea for Net-a-Porter?
Like many women, I loved the designs I saw in the world’s top fashion magazines, but found the effort involved in finding them in stores daunting and sometimes impossible. It was then that the idea occurred to me to start the world’s first shop-able magazine, creating instant-gratification for the reader.

What excites you in the digital landscape today?
All things mobile. It’s our mission to be where our consumer is with easy-to-navigate content and commerce. As more people regard their mobile device as their primary resource for information, shopping, socializing and the like, the desktop computer is on the road to extinction. It’s a double-edged sword though: anytime, anywhere access to what you love is great, but it does make it hard to switch off from constant work.

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Who is your style icon?
I like to say, the stylish child of Keith Richards, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy-Onassis. That would make for an interesting behind-the-scenes story! How do you achieve balance in your life? My father always taught me to be fearless, but also to enjoy life. As hard as I work professionally, I also work hard to carve out time to spend with my children and all the people I love. The desert island question: If you could only pack three things, what would they be? My iPad loaded with my favorite apps and music, a margarita machine and a solar-powered source for electricity.

How do you achieve balance in your life?
My father always taught me to be fearless, but also to enjoy life. As hard as I work professionally, I also work hard to carve out time to spend with my children and all the people I love.

The desert island question: If you could only pack three things, what would they be?
My iPad loaded with my favorite apps and music, a margarita machine and a solar-powered source for electricity.

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