Flamboyant French entrepreneur Christian Audigier, who died of cancer in July at age 57, was never boring.
This story first appeared in the December 16, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Best known for his Von Dutch and Ed Hardy lines that turned trucker hats, tattoo T-shirts and embroidered pocket jeans into the signatures of the early Aughts, Audigier also did denim for American Eagle and Bisou Bisou. A fixture on the Los Angeles fashion circuit, his equally colorful friends included Michael Jackson — who proclaimed him “The King of Fashion” at his 50th birthday party — Madonna and Johnny Hallyday.
As American Apparel founder Dov Charney told WWD, “He was funny, charming and entertaining and one of the most talented apparel men the city has seen in decades.” — Marcy Medina
Vince Camuto, a key industry figure known for making footwear that was fashion-forward and accessible, died Jan. 21 at the age of 78.
One of the pioneering founders of the Nine West footwear line, Camuto created his own privately held company, Camuto Group, in 2001, building a multibillion-dollar empire comprising several brands across multiple categories, as well as freestanding stores.
Camuto designed, sourced and collaborated with Tory Burch on her footwear, and owned the Jessica Simpson trademark that was sold to Sequential Brands Group Inc. in April. The company manufactures and distributes Simpson’s footwear under license. — Lisa Lockwood
Madame Carven, who died in Paris in June at the age of 105, was the doyenne of a generation that also included Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain.
Marie-Louise Carven-Grog, born Carmen de Tommaso, launched her house in 1945 with the aim of dressing women of similarly small stature.
Her designs were characterized by simple constructions and clean lines and exemplified by the green-and-white stripes that became the house signature. Carven traveled across the world, staging shows in far-flung destinations including Egypt, Thailand, Morocco and Brazil, and bringing back a trove of exotic influences. — Joelle Diderich
Josephine Chaus, 64, chairwoman and cofounder of Bernard Chaus Inc., who was thrust into the chief executive officer role following the death of her husband, Bernard Chaus, in 1991, died in November of cancer.
Chaus led the publicly traded sportswear company through some tumultuous years, exhibiting a courageous and formidable personality. She often reached into her own pocket to keep the company afloat.
During her tenure, she lowered the sportswear brand’s prices so it wouldn’t have to compete directly with market leader Liz Claiborne Inc., forbade giving retail customers markdown money, shifted 10 to 15 percent of Chaus manufacturing to factories in Central America and consolidated production in Asia. — Lisa Lockwood
Accessories designer Carlos Falchi died in March in Durham, N.C., at the age of 70.
Falchi, who began his career in the late Sixties as an artist living in Greenwich Village and making his own clothes, eventually landed a meeting with Henri Bendel president Geraldine Stutz. It was the bag in which Falchi carried his ready-to-wear that attracted her attention, prompting the designer to move into accessories.
He would stick to the category the rest of his career, finding shelf space at stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Bendel’s. Neiman Marcus played an important role in Falchi’s professional and personal lives — the designer met his wife, Missy, while she was working in the store’s special events office.
Falchi was heralded for his patchwork designs that incorporated exotic skins. In 1980, WWD declared his signature buffalo satchel “the most copied bag in the industry.”
Falchi received the Coty Award for American Accessories Design in 1986 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Accessories Council of America in 2004. — Arthur Friedman
Fashion brands go to great lengths today to tout a lifestyle concept, but Elio Fiorucci was a pioneer in this sense, opening his first store in Milan back in 1967 — a location that combined fashion, art and music with an unconventional edge and accessible prices.
Fiorucci died in Milan at age 80 in July and a few months later plans were revealed to relaunch his brand, opening it up to a new generation of consumers.
Ever the gentleman, with an ironic twinkle in his eyes and soft-spoken ways, Fiorucci was a magician at capturing the spirit of the times. He launched his namesake ready-to-wear line in 1970. His concept store brimmed with colorful T-shirts with Disney characters or printed with the brand’s signature Victorian angels, sweatshirts and legwarmers, as well as kettles or hair products. He was billed as the first to put Lycra spandex into his jeans for the stretch women craved.
In addition, Fiorucci stores opened in cities such as London and New York, attracting the likes of Marc Jacobs and Cher. Associated with the Pop Art movement, he was friends with Madonna and Andy Warhol, and his Milan store was at one point decorated by Keith Haring graffiti. — Luisa Zargani
Krizia founder Mariuccia Mandelli, who helped build Italy’s global fashion identity, died at the age of 90 on Dec. 6.
At its peak in the Nineties, Mandelli and her husband, Aldo Pinto, had developed Krizia into a $500 million business with a string of licenses and global stores.
Last year, Mandelli passed the baton after six decades in business, selling a controlling stake to Chinese fashion retailer Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co. Ltd.
After opening a small fashion factory with a friend in 1954, the designer launched the Krizia label. She showed the brand for the first time at Palazzo Pitti in Florence in 1964 — the all-black-and-white collection brought her the Critica della Moda award.
In 1971, Krizia was honored with the Tiberio d’Oro prize in Capri for her short shorts, later renamed HotPants by WWD, at a time when midi and maxi lengths prevailed.
In 2003, Japan was the company’s largest market, with 30 brand stores and 400 multibrand clients. In the Eighties and Nineties, Krizia boasted boutiques in New York, Paris, Venice, London and Hong Kong. — Arthur Friedman
Carroll Petrie, a socialite known as much for her understated style as her extensive philanthropy, died in January at the age of 90.
The South Carolina transplant gave hundreds of millions of dollars to various institutions, including museums, hospitals and charities, distributing the largess of her husband, Petrie Stores founder Milton Petrie, after his death in 1994. Most notable among the couple’s philanthropic efforts were underwriting the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and major gifts to Beth Israel Medical Center, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Museum of Modern Art and the Parrish Art Museum.
Petrie herself had a particular passion for animal charities and had her own Carroll Petrie Foundation Dog Rescue Project at the ASPCA. — Taylor Harris
LAWRENCE S. PHILLIPS
Lawrence S. Phillips, a former chairman and chief executive officer of Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., was not only an inspirational and dynamic leader, but the architect who created the largest shirt manufacturer in the U.S.
Phillips, who died in September at age 88, joined his family’s men’s shirt business after graduating from Princeton University in 1948 and held several positions before being named president and ceo in 1967. After his father’s death in 1987, he was elevated to chairman.
It was during his seven-year reign as chairman that PVH’s annual sales more than doubled to $1 billion and the company climbed to the top of the heap in U.S. shirt production.
Phillips relinquished his chairman’s post in 1994 and sold the family’s remaining 11 percent stake in the company the following year. — Jean E. Palmieri
LAWRENCE R. “LARRY” PUGH
Former VF Corp. ceo and chairman Lawrence R. “Larry” Pugh died Dec. 3 of respiratory failure in Naples, Fla., where he resided. He was 82.
Pugh became president of VF Corp. in 1980 and chairman and ceo in 1982. During Pugh’s tenure at the helm, VF grew sales tenfold as the result of his focus on aggressive brand management. Pugh oversaw the acquisition of Blue Bell Holdings, the maker of Wrangler jeans, in 1986 for $378 million. The deal ended the market share lead in the sector held by Levi Strauss & Co.
Under Pugh’s leadership, VF Corp. became one of the first companies to manufacture stretch jeans for women. The company separated the Lee brand into men’s and women’s categories, creating the Ms. Lee label, which went on to become the best-selling line of women’s jeans in the U.S. Lee became one of the biggest divisions in the company and generated as much as 80 percent of its revenues in the early Eighties.
A series of acquisitions helped to grow VF Corp.’s sales to more than $5 billion. He took the company from two brands to nearly 24 before stepping down as ceo in 1995. — Arthur Friedman
Among the first American designers to break out on his own in his 20s, Arnold Scaasi’s fame in part was tied to his well-heeled clients.
The Canadian-born Scaasi, who died in August at age 85, reversed his surname of Isaacs in the mid-Fifties. He staked a claim in U.S. history, dressing six First Ladies, dealing directly with Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, and indirectly with Lady Bird Johnson. (The president would see a Scaasi design “and would tell his secretary…’I like that for my wife.'”)
The designer was a forerunner in the home shopping trend, first selling to QVC in 2001 and later signing up with HSN.
Shrewd in business, rather than donate his archives to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2009, Scaasi opted to sell them.
Marrying his longtime companion Parker Ladd in 2011, he was among the first in the fashion crowd to have a same-sex wedding. — Rosemary Feitelberg
Developer and philanthropist Henry Segerstrom, who died in February at age 91, left a vast impression on retail — more than one million square feet, to be exact — when he founded South Coast Plaza in Orange County, Calif., one of the world’s top-grossing shopping centers.
Nearly every luxury brand has a flagship in the center, which is anchored by Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Nordstrom. As managing partner of South Coast Plaza and owner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, Segerstrom took his family’s lima bean farms to mall mecca, and donated 14 acres of land and tens of millions of dollars in building funds to establish the Orange Country Performing Arts Center, one of the country’s preeminent arts complexes. — Marcy Medina
Burt Shavitz, a cofounder of Burt’s Bees, became a pioneer in eco-conscious beauty after developing an early interest in beekeeping.
Known as “the bee man,” the often flannel-shirted Shavitz created the naturally based personal-care brand with Roxanne Quimby in the late Eighties. It began as a gift and health-food store line known for beeswax lip balm and an unorthodox style.
The pair entered the beauty industry when they discovered their all-natural candle wax products could be applied to the skin-care business. Lotions, soaps and eventually cosmetics followed and the company grew into a global symbol of natural beauty with distribution in 50 countries.
Shavitz retired to the area of Bangor, Maine, in 1999, and died in July at age 80. — Pete Born
Ingrid Sischy, the former editor in chief of Interview magazine, died in July at 63 from breast cancer.
A beloved journalist, Sischy began her career at Artforum, where she served as editor from 1979 to 1987 and championed the work of emerging artists, many of whom were women. She became a photography and art critic at The New Yorker from 1988 to 1996, where her milestone pieces included those on Robert Mapplethorpe at the height of the AIDS crisis, as well as early profiles of Miuccia Prada, Alexander McQueen and Azzedine Alaïa. Her last position was international editor of Condé Nast International’s Vanity Fair.
Sischy was named editor in chief of Interview in 1989, building on Andy Warhol’s success — no small feat — to become a force in the cultural world in her own right and was a confidante of designers, musicians and artists, including Karl Lagerfeld, Sir Elton John and Jeff Koons, among many others. — Alexandra Steigrad
Joseph Spellman was known for his sharp wit, unfailing good humor and mercurial creativity as a longtime beauty executive and consultant at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and Elizabeth Arden.
Spellman, 71, was also remembered as an enduring friend as hundreds of beauty executives turned out for a memorial service following his death in September.
“Joe was one of the most creative and conceptual-thinking people I’ve ever met,” said Leonard A. Lauder, chairman emeritus of Lauder, recalling Spellman’s more than 15 years as a consultant to the company. “Every time I’d see him, he had a torrent of ideas and concepts.”
Spellman was a vice president of marketing at Lauder in the Seventies, then formed his own firm before joining Arden in 1988, where he launched Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds fragrance, still a holiday bestseller. — Pete Born
A. ALFRED TAUBMAN
A. Alfred Taubman, mall developer, art collector and philanthropist who pioneered regional and upscale shopping centers, died in April at the age of 91.
Taubman convinced retailers to build big branch stores to serve as anchors and luxury brands to enter malls when previously they only considered high streets. Having been educated in architecture, Taubman brought a higher level of aesthetics to his properties by adding skylights, terrazzo floors, brass railings and landscaping, as well as split-level parking, food courts and movie theaters.
He’s credited with creating some of the country’s most successful and productive malls, among them the Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J., the Beverly Center in Los Angeles and Cherry Creek in Denver. — David Moin
Douglas Tompkins, founder of The North Face and Esprit, died Dec. 8 after a kayaking accident in Chile. He was 72.
A conservationist and avid outdoorsman, Tompkins was boating with five people on General Carrera Lake in the Patagonia region of southern Chile when their kayaks capsized in waters of less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. He died of hypothermia.
In 1962, Tompkins opened a small ski and backpacking store in San Francisco that would become The North Face, which was acquired by VF Corp. in 2000.
In 1968, Tompkins and his then-wife Susie Tompkins Buell founded Esprit with Jane Tise. It became a billion-dollar brand that defined casual sportswear in the Eighties and at its peak had 690 freestanding stores and 14,500 points of sale worldwide.
Tompkins sold his stake in the U.S. Esprit business in 1989 for what industry sources estimated was $150 million. He and his second wife, Kristine, a former chief executive officer at Patagonia, moved to Chile and Argentina, where they did conservation work. At the time of his death, Tompkins was involved in creating new parks in Patagonia and in the Iberá wetlands of northeastern Argentina. — Marcy Medina
DUKES WOOTERS JR.
Dukes Wooters Jr., retired chairman of Cotton Incorporated and its first chief executive officer, died in January at age 97.
When Wooters became ceo for Cotton Inc., a not-for-profit research and promotion agency for American cotton growers, in 1970, he was tasked with reviving the competitiveness of the industry that was battling the growth of synthetic fibers and fabrics.
Wooters was instrumental in the development of the Seal of Cotton in 1973, which remains a highly recognized graphic symbol.
Wooters was inducted into the American Textile Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Cotton Research and Promotion Hall of Fame in 2014. — Arthur Friedman