PARIS — Rodolphe d’Ornano, a former L’Oréal executive credited with helping establish Lancôme in the United States, died Friday in the southern French town of La Garde-Freinet. He was 93.
D’Ornano’s death was confirmed by Robert Salmon, a longtime friend and colleague at L’Oréal years ago.
D’Ornano was the son of one of the founders of Lancôme and charged with establishing the brand in the United States in the Fifties, early in his career. He then worked for another firm before returning to Lancôme after L’Oréal acquired it in 1964, to oversee the U.K. business. When Salmon was general manager of Lancôme, he had d’Ornano run North America and Russia. And in the late Sixties, the executive was asked to relaunch the brand in the U.S.
Salmon said: “He became my consul in the United States with the American team.”
Before retiring at age 70, d’Ornano held various other roles at L’Oréal and was a coach of sorts for many at the top of the company in the U.S. (formerly known as Cosmair), including Jean Levy, Lindsay Owen-Jones and Guy Peyrelongue, according to Salmon.
“We lost a good man and a great friend,” said Margaret Sharkey, a L’Oréal veteran, who referred to d’Ornano by his nickname “Rodo.”
She added: “I never tired of his delight in seeing his Lancôme achieve even greater heights.... His little book used to record every-day life events that were insignificant to most, but monumental to him as he crafted his story of Lancôme.
“There were not many like him, our Count d’Ornano, the man behind the scenes, maneuvering in the king’s court, mirroring the footsteps of his ancestors,” continued Sharkey.
While working with d’Ornano, Salmon spoke with him daily. Their final conversation took place on d’Ornano’s last morning.
“He was playing piano at 4 o’clock and died at 8,” said Salmon.
D’Ornano is survived by three children and seven grandchildren.
His funeral will be held on Thursday in the Saint-Clément church of La Garde-Freinet.
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