Peter England may have retired as Elizabeth Arden’s president and chief executive officer in 2000, but kicking back and playing golf all day simply isn’t in his DNA. Not that he didn’t try it: “I retired at 56, moved to Australia with my wife, Carol, and my son and immediately knew it was a mistake,” he says.
England’s two daughters were already living with their families in Chicago, so he and his wife headed to the Windy City, where England became director of the Chicago Children’s Museum in spring 2001. “I looked in the mirror and told myself I was stupid, but stayed there for seven years,” he says with a laugh.
During that time, England built the then financially troubled institution into a leading educational resource for elementary school teachers, garnering national science awards. Since retiring from the museum in 2008, England has sat—and continues to sit—on a number of boards of charitable organizations, mostly with a human rights bent, including Illinois Action for Children, for which he is also treasurer.
“My problem is I don’t know how to say no to people,” he laughs. “But I’d be bored doing nothing.”
Famously outspoken, England isn’t shy when it comes to discussing the current state of the beauty world, where he spent 33 years. “I don’t miss Unilever at all, and I would not like to be in the industry today,” he says. “It has the same struggles it has always had, coupled with all the department store closures. I think L’Oréal and Lancôme are the best in the industry these days; they have been able to trickle down real innovations.”
He does miss many of the people he worked with, however.
“I liked Elizabeth Taylor and she liked me,” he remembers of the late superstar, whose fragrances were produced by Arden. “She used to call me late at night to ask where her money was and how she could get it.” What makes England happiest these days? His wife, children and six grandchildren, ranging in age from five months to 8 years old.
“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