NEW YORK — Joseph Augeri, one of the driving forces behind the meteoric rise of Lancôme in the U.S., died at his home in Palm Beach, Fla., Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
He was 80 and is survived by his wife, Ann.
Funeral plans were still incomplete at press time Tuesday, according to L'Oréal executives.
Augeri, who retired from L'Oréal USA in 1993 after 20 years with the company, had teamed up with a young Lindsay Owen-Jones in the early Eighties in a Herculean effort to boost L'Oréal's Lancôme brand to prominence in U.S. department stores, despite the domination of the Estée Lauder brand and its sister Clinique. Augeri was the senior vice president of Lancôme and Owen-Jones was president of the U.S. subsidiary, then called Cosmair. Together, they succeeded in catapulting Lancôme into the top three of American department store beauty rankings, a feat accomplished by no other French company.
Owen-Jones, who went on to lead L'Oréal globally as its chairman and chief executive officer and recently became chairman of the board, said Tuesday, "Joe was my real mentor in the luxury business. I have always deeply respected his points of view, but above all, he was a very charming, fatherly figure to me and I feel a deep loss at his passing."
Augeri spent his early years at Revlon and came to Cosmair in August 1973 as vice president and general manager of Cosmetics & Fragrances, then joined Lancôme in January 1980. In January 1985, he was named president of department and specialty stores. In May 1986, he was promoted to the corporate suite as senior vice president of Cosmair.
When Augeri retired on Sept. 1, 1993, the company circulated an internal announcement, stating that when Augeri joined Lancôme 20 years before, "the division was doing $1 million in sales. In 1984, when he left his post, the company had broken through the space barrier to reach $120 million, making Joe and his team the contributors to the phenomenal Lancôme U.S. success story."
"It was a magical moment," recalled Margaret Sharkey, senior vice president of strategic business development. She worked with Augeri when she was vice president of marketing for Lancôme. "He used to say he was the steak and I was the sizzle," she said, remembering how Augeri and Owen-Jones had built Lancôme. As they walked the stores together, Augeri provided "the keen insight into the retail mapping of what was happening in the U.S."He also had sharp eyesight. "Joe looked at the carpets in the stores to see where the traffic patterns were," Sharkey recalled. The corporate atmosphere was highly charged, she said, adding, "We had a winner's attitude; we had a party whenever a door reached $1 million. We had great style."
And the style setter was Augeri, who "loved to live big. He was a great adventurer," she said, and "a real fighter."
Jack Wiswall, the president of the Designer Fragrances Division, who visited with Augeri only last week, described Augeri as "one of the fiercest competitors in the world." He fought door by door, Wiswall said, determined to make Lancôme come "as close to number one as possible."
Wiswall pointed out that Augeri came up with the strategy of taking the fight to distant California, where Lancôme eventually became number one. Augeri's strength was in not only knowing the retail lay of the land, but in his ability to read people and form partnerships. "He had a wonderful persuasive quality that allowed him to build relationships," Wiswall recalled. "Lancôme was the underdog and he got people to help him."
Wiswall still marvels at Augeri's "unbelievable passion for building the business. He gave people a lot of latitude, saying, 'You can work alongside me, 24/7, too.'
"I met Joe as a competitor," Wiswall concluded. "He quickly became my mentor, and that led to him being my friend."
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)