NEW YORK — As the host of last Friday’s CEW Beauty Awards, Mario Cantone brazenly bellowed, Avon is no longer a woman donned in a pink pillbox hat at the front door saying, “Avon calling.” Now she’s running a...
NEW YORK — As the host of last Friday’s CEW Beauty Awards, Mario Cantone brazenly bellowed, Avon is no longer a woman donned in a pink pillbox hat at the front door saying, “Avon calling.” Now she’s running a multibillion-dollar company high atop the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue (at least that’s the watered-down, PG version of the comedian’s quote).
Author Laura Klepacki details Avon’s rise into the world’s largest direct-selling powerhouse — some five million representatives strong — in her book, “Avon: Building the World’s Premier Company for Women.” Klepacki, a former beauty editor for WWD, acknowledged that, while she had long reported on Avon, she was not familiar with the company’s 119-year history. As she since discovered and penned in her book, the company was started in 1886 by a door-to-door bookseller named David Hall McConnell, who doled out free perfume samples to encourage housewives to buy his books.
McConnell traded books for the faster-moving category of perfume (mixed up by a chemist friend), laying the founding business principles for a company that today invents an astonishing 1,000 new beauty products every year. The company markets these items in 26 brochures each year (for a point of reference, Mary Kay prints a total of four).
The road for Avon, as Klepacki points out, wasn’t always smooth. In the Seventies, women began entering the workforce in droves, leaving unanswered doorbells in their wake. The societal shift led management to question the Avon model and adopt an aggressive acquisition strategy. The company began buying up other businesses — including Tiffany Co. — and then quickly selling them when diversification didn’t pay off. A decade later, Avon had succeeded in shifting the focus back to making women beautiful. Avon named Andrea Jung as its first female chief executive officer in 1999, and since then, the company’s sales have soared 45 percent and the stock has more than doubled, notes Klepacki. The author, who divulged Avon was the first lipstick she ever tried as a girl, interviewed Avon reps across the globe, who use business-school concepts to run their home-based operations. She noted that these independent businesswomen have built a viable beauty company with an internal culture of dreams and goals. Klepacki paints Avon as a company that will adapt as times change, but is steadfastly focused on improving women’s lives.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast