Editor’s Letter: The Principal’s Office

We’ve dubbed Ronald O. Perelman beauty’s most elusive mogul.

Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 05/11/2012

We’ve dubbed Ronald O. Perelman beauty’s most elusive mogul, because for the past 27 years, the number of times that he’s consented to sit for a wide-ranging, on-the-record interview can be counted on a single hand. But what was really significant about Perelman’s presence on Thursday, April 5, when he sat down with WWD’s executive editor of beauty, Pete Born, for an hour-long exclusive talk, wasn’t that he was there—it’s what he was wearing.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Perelman sported a white shirt, navy sweater and denim jeans by J. Crew and a jacket by Brunello Cucinelli, the luxe Italian sportswear manufacturer whose clothing costs in the thousands. That high-low mix perfectly encompasses Perelman’s vision for Revlon, the storied American mass market cosmetics company that has had its shares of ups and downs since Perelman acquired it in 1985. Revlon is currently up, coming off a 4.5 percent sales increase for 2011, and led by a dynamic management team who seem to have the chairman’s full confidence. Their mission now is to transform the brand into one that epitomizes affordable luxury, so that a woman would feel proud to pull a Revlon lipstick out of her Hermès bag—much the same way that Perelman himself effortlessly combines J. Crew and Cucinelli. For more on Perelman’s strategy for Revlon, his assessment of the current state of the cosmetics industry and why his life as a high-profile New York billionaire isn’t nearly as glamorous as the tabloids make out, turn to “Ronald Perelman’s Vision Quest.

Ronald Perelman has never been one to shrink from big ideas, and the people who I spoke to for “From Hi to Buy” are likewise bold thinkers. Take Joseph Einhorn, the entrepreneur behind TheFancy.com, who hopes to make Amazon ancient history. Pioneers in the area of social commerce, Einhorn and his cohorts are on the cutting edge of harnessing the incredible power of social media to tap the unlimited opportunity of e-commerce. Discover how some leading brands and technology experts expect the field to evolve.

Although the four industry legends in “Leaders of the Pack” are retired from active beauty duty, they would doubtless be among the first to explore the emerging area of social commerce. Guy Peyrelongue, Jeanette Wagner, Robert Mettler and Arie Kopelman each helped shape a different aspect of the modern beauty industry, but what comes through when speaking to each is their intense curiosity, creativity, work ethic and overall sheer enjoyment of helping people achieve tough goals. As the industry’s current leaders gather for the 2012 WWD Beauty CEO Summit, we spoke to these past leaders to get some perspective on the future. I hope you’ll find their remarks as fascinating as I do. E-mail me at jenny_fine@ fairchildfashion.com and let me know where you think our industry is headed.

Key Points From This Issue

1. Revlon Rising. Ronald Perelman’s goal is to make Revlon the J. Crew of the beauty industry.

2. The World Is Flat. Beauty’s most respected leaders agree: The closer management is to the creative and research teams, the better.

3. Unlock the Box. Renato Semerari on why mass retailers need to radically rethink fragrance merchandising.

4. Money Matters. Prestige sales were up in 2011 and CEO salaries followed suit. A look at the numbers.

5. The Golden Glow of Success. Look for a wave of innovation to help drive sales of bronzers and self-tanners.