By  on June 4, 2012

For Tommy Hilfiger, it’s been a long ride from upstate Elmira, N.Y., to the top of the world, a ride all the more exciting for its occasional bumps. That journey takes in far-flung global destinations — the Tommy Hilfiger brand has a presence in more than 90 countries — and, among his personal residences, one iconic address, The Plaza, where he and his wife Dee live in one of the tower apartments, an art-filled duplex with windows and a terrace providing other- worldly views of Central Park.

Hilfiger’s story is the stuff of legend: While still in high school, he funneled a rock ’n’ roll fixation into a fashion concept, started selling jeans out of his Volkswagen Beetle and soon thereafter opened a store, People’s Place. One store led to 10, which led to bankruptcy at 23 — one of the best lessons of his life, he’ll tell you — which made him determined to learn the business of fashion. Sensing a stylistic change in the air, Hilfiger next explored and tinkered with the kind of clothes he grew up wearing; he still uses the term “preppy with a twist.” Twenty-five-plus years and several remarkable partnerships later, the Tommy Hilfiger brand is a global phenomenon with sales of $5.6 billion. Though now removed from the day-to-day running of the company, Hilfiger remains its face and its driving force. Despite several other ventures, the brand is, he says, his “number-one priority.”

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