Bernd Beetz, former chief executive officer of Coty Inc., accepted the Fragrance Foundation’s Circle of Champions award last week with grace and more than a little good humor.
He smiled through all the jokes about his German accent and ended the evening by saluting the staff he built over the decade he spent turning Coty into a global fragrance powerhouse. He said that despite his accent, his organization always performed just as he’d hoped, “despite not being able to understand me.”
“I never had to push,” Beetz said. He also thanked the crowd that packed the St. Regis Roof of the St. Regis Hotel last Thursday. “I memorized all your names because we are going to be friends for life,” he said with a grin.
The tenor of the evening was set early by a previous Circle of Champions recipient, Camille McDonald, who is president of brand development and merchandising at Bath & Body Works. She described Beetz as the man who “reinvented an entire business model for licensed businesses” and “jump-started an entire category that was stagnating.”
Beetz’s role in reinventing the celebrity fragrance category was also alluded to during the evening. But his leadership skills was what came through perhaps the strongest. Two of his closest team members — Steve Mormoris, senior vice president of global marketing for Coty Beauty, and Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of American fragrances for Coty Prestige — recollected their first memories of him when they all started at Coty together. They described his visionary ability, his entrepreneurial spirit, his leadership, his team building and joked about some of his misadventures with the English language.
Then Walsh turned serious, saying, “what most people don’t know is that you are a nomad, a gypsy — in the most positive sense. It is what makes you unique.” She later added, “I hope your future journeys are awesome.”
Cristina Carlino, the founder of Philosophy, talked about the relationship that grew out of Beetz buying the company she founded. “I never had anyone mentor me the way you did,” she concluded.
“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