FLORENCE — The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA honored Leonard A. Lauder here Wednesday night during a dinner at the historic Palazzo Vecchio, where he received the Renaissance Man of the Year Award in the lavish, frescoed Salone dei Cinquecento, or “Hall of the 500,” a reference to the number of grand council members who once convened there.
The Chairman Emeritus of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and its self-proclaimed “Teacher in Chief,” Lauder was recognized for his lifelong dedication to the arts, business, education and philanthropy. The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA is the American branch of an Italian institution, the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, and is dedicated to the promotion of humanistic Renaissance values. The organization is involved in a wide range of cultural and philanthropic endeavors, including sending groups of American high school students to study in Italy, through its High School Renaissance Award program.
Over coffee before the awards ceremony began, Lauder reflected on a wide variety of cultural issues and past experiences.
He noted that Florentines of the Renaissance — including various members of the ultrapowerful, controversial and storied Medici family — “had the idea of the active life: the idea that you make money, [and then] you give back.
“People say the difference between the Americans and the Europeans is that the Americans have the tax breaks and the Europeans don’t. That is not so.…Everywhere throughout Europe except for Florence, all the great museums were founded by royalty. In the U.S. and in Florence, they were all founded by families,” Lauder said, citing the Carnegie, Frick, Mellon and Rockefeller clans, as well as J.P. Morgan, as major museum patrons. In 2013, Lauder, also staunch supporter of the art world, donated 78 Cubist paintings, drawings and sculptures to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Asked whether European austerity policies, which have frequently involved hefty cuts to government funding of the arts, were short-sighted, Lauder said: “Those cuts are looked at today by the Europeans as being temporary cuts. But they’re really permanent.”
He added: “That is when you must start thinking of new ways to create a culture that celebrates the arts privately and doesn’t wait for government to step in.…The arts are a necessity of life that [this next generation] must personally support, and should not have to fully depend on the government,” which may prioritize funding for health care, for instance.
Arts aside, Lauder shared some thoughts on his decades of visiting Italy. In the Sixties, he focused intently on making the company founded by his parents, Estée and Joseph, more international, and he said Italy was the second or third foreign market the firm approached, around 1963. “One of the reasons we came to Italy was that the Italians…were quick to embrace newness, and they embraced us,” Lauder said.
His first trip to Italy, however, took place a decade prior, when Lauder was a 20-year-old student exploring Venice. “I remember we stayed in this little, little tiny guest house, and in order to take a bath you had to go into another bathroom and you’d put some coins in and get hot water. Maybe it was 25 cents a bath or something like that,” Lauder recalled, adding: “I have great memories.”
About Italians, Lauder said he admires “their style, their point of view and their sense of adornment” as well as “their sense of family.”
The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation’s approach to intercultural exchange is “fabulous,” said Lauder, because: “Don’t think you can understand any country by reading about it: You have to be there, you have to travel and visit.”
He continued: “The thousands of miles I’ve traveled, and how I’ve traveled, and where I’ve traveled, and what I’ve seen, has added up into a greater understanding of the world, and there is no way that market research can replace face-to-face visitations.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews