LANA J. MARKS
BIO OF FOUNDER
When Lana J. Marks was only three years old, her father began taking her to family building sites where he explained the finer points of architecture and proportion. While her mother, a businesswoman and an artist, taught her to appreciate the finest European textiles and craftsmanship.
As a young girl studying with the Royal Academy of Ballet, she spent many years in the dance studio, learning the discipline and refinement required to perfect her grand jetés and her plies. When she started competing in international tennis at world renowned tournaments – including the French Open – her many years on the tennis court instilled her with an innate sense of discipline and competitiveness.
And in her business, as the former CEO and owner of the LANA MARKS Brand, she brings the same relentless perfectionism, the same exacting, meticulous standards to form, function and fashion. Whether it be the LANA MARKS Brand concept stores, the Grade A center-cut alligator she uses for her handbags, or the architectural proportions of her designs, there is the constant drive towards perfection.
The idea for a luxury exotic leather fashion brand came in 1984, when Lana Marks and her husband were invited to a birthday celebration for Queen Elizabeth II aboard the royal yacht Britannia. A fruitless search for a red alligator handbag to match her suit led Marks to conclude that a niche existed in the marketplace for luxury, exotic leather fashion handbags in fabulous colors. She devoted several years to studying the techniques of accessories design and Italian production, working with the most skilled artisans in the world. In 1988, she launched her first design, a hot pink alligator lunchbox handbag. It was an instant success.
Since then, the name LANA MARKS has become synonymous with the most luxurious, fashion forward handbags in the world, crafted from such exotic leathers as alligator, crocodile, ostrich and lizard. Her accessories have become a favorite among such royalty and entertainment style-makers as Julie Christie, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Chloe Sevigny, Lucy Liu, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Winslet, Drew Barrymore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Madonna, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Marks is also a member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA), and in 2000 and 2002, was selected as the handbag and accessory consultant to the Academy Awards. In 2001 she was one of 50 American CEOs – the sole fashion representative – invited to the White House for the Women Business Leaders’ Forum. Selected twice to represent the U.S. at an Eastern European business forum in Helsinki, she was also one of 40 businesswomen chosen by the STAR Group in 2002 as a leading woman entrepreneur of the world. Six years ago, she was appointed to the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Confirmed in 2019, Marks is the Unites States Ambassador to South Africa. Marks also supports dozens of charities, including those dedicated to breast cancer, underprivileged children, and the arts.