A few years ago, a professional contact granted me an enormous favour and when I asked how I could possibly repay him, he said, 'It's simple. Write a book and put down my name as the author!' If this formula works in business circles, then I owe all the people mentioned below 'books', if not in this lifetime, then maybe in the life to come.

First and foremost, I'm grateful to all the companies and brands that graciously granted me permission to reproduce their company images in this book. They are too numerous to mention individually but I am thankful for the confidence you had in me and in this text. A special thanks goes to the House of Worth for providing me with access to the archives of Charles Worth, the inventor of Haute Couture.

I am especially thankful to James Ogilvy, publisher of the foremost luxury industry journal, Luxury Briefing, for his special gift of a one-year subscription and also to Catherine McDonald-Kier for ensuring that it actually happened. Thanks James for fuelling my passion for fashion through your 'gold-mine' publication. I also thank Jean-Baptiste Danet, CEO of Interbrand, France, and Aaron Simpson, CEO of Quintessentially, two highly insightful business practitioners and great intellectuals, for sharing their knowledge and time with me. Thanks to James Lawson of Ledbury Research, London, for the meeting that practically opened the door to this project and to Stuart McKay of Ergo, London, for his insights. I'm also grateful to Philippe Schaus of Louis Vuitton, Paris for his time, insight and assistance; to Susie Rogers of Gucci London for being such a pleasant adviser; and to Alessandro Guarise of Gucci Milan for his support. My gratitude also goes to my academic mentors Adrian Woods, Geraldine Cohen and Steve Smith of Brunel Business School at Brunel University, London, and to Rod McColl and Michael Ward of Ecole Superieur de Commerce de Rennes, France, for their invaluable guidance and for believing in me and to Stephanie Morin for being so efficient.

I also received immeasurable support from people too numerous to mention including Denise Silber, CEO of Basil Strategies, Paris, from whom I constantly draw inspiration; Daniele de Winter, CEO of Daniele de Winter cosmetics, Monaco, for being a supporter from day one; Mark Tungate, author of Fashion Brands, Branding Style from Armani to Zara (buy his book, its great!); Brad Fox of Royal Elastics, California, for sharing my ideas; my 'sisters by choice' Mélinda Mercan, Vanessa Louis, Sophie-Ann Haberbusch, Véronique Dessout and Amalia Damesin; my 'second and third parents by choice' Jean-Guy and Colette Mercan and Alain and Bernadeatte Jougla. Thanks also to Alexandre Fabre and Jean-Laurent Louis of Adexen Paris for lending me your office so many times; to Neil for the illustration ideas and advice. And to talented fashion photographer, Sara White Wilson for making me presentable in the back-cover photo. Kisses to Jean-Pierre and Ambroise Evano, thank you for your enthusiasm and support. It made a big difference!

To Alexandra Dawe and the inspiring team at Palgrave Macmillan, this is saying 'Cheers' to all the hard work. Thanks for believing in this project and for taking a chance with me! I look forward to the future.

A big THANK YOU to my darling mother, to whom this book is dedicated and from whom I learnt all the fundamentals about fashion and business. And to my father and brothers and sisters for the incessant love and support especially my lovely sister Uju, my proof-reader (although she dozed off behind the scripts sometimes!) and ideas girl (if this book is boring, it's her fault!).

Finally but most importantly, I thank God, for giving me the foresight to begin writing this book and the energy to actually complete it.

Uche Okonkwo

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