James Galanos, 92, was among the West Coast contingent of designers who dressed the society set in California, but who shot to fame when one of his clients, Nancy Reagan, became first lady. A loyal supporter, she often wore his gowns to state dinners. Shortly after the Reagans left the White House, Galanos left fashion. He spent the last decade or so focusing on art and photography.
“I had my career. I never looked back. I only look at tomorrow,” he told WWD in 2008.
Galanos was remembered as a consummate gentleman with exacting standards. Harold Koda, former curator-in-charge at the Met’s Costume Institute, said of the designer, “It was apt that he moved to Los Angeles because he had a sense of glamour that was different from the Francophile kind that East Coast designers would cleave to. On one hand, he was known for refined and subtle things, and on the other hand there was this boldness and this love of opulence.”
He founded Galanos Originals in L.A. in 1952; he designed for the movies and dressed the stars. He retired in 1998. In 2007, he received the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award.
“I had big ambitions to do what I wanted to do, and I accomplished that in 50 years in business,” he said. “I felt I had had the best time and I wanted to go out on top. Life is life. You grow old.” — DIANNE M. POGODA
Former Salomon Brothers’ chief executive officer John Gutfreund, 86, was a symbol of the driven, cigar-smoking swagger of profane Eighties’ Wall Street excess and a fixture on the gilded social scene. Known as the “King of Wall Street,” he and his wife, Susan, were poster children for ostentation: with such extravagances as a Fifth Avenue duplex with a $20 million decorating bill, a triplex in a Paris hotel where they built a $1 million underground parking garage and private car wash, and an extensive Impressionist art collection. They were said to have been the models for the banking tycoon and his wife in Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel, “The Bonfire of the Vanities.”
Gutfreund joined Salomon in 1953 in its municipal securities business, became a firm partner in 1963 and succeeded William Salomon as senior partner in 1978.
After a failed takeover bid from Ron Perelman in the late Eighties, Salomon got caught up in a major scandal involving illegal bond trades, and the firm was fined $290 million. Gutfreund was forced to resign, had to pay a $100,000 fine and was banned from running a securities firm for life.
In 2008, he told author Michael Lewis what he thought caused the 1987 economic collapse: “Greed on both sides — greed of investors and the greed of the bankers.” — D.M.P.
Mickey Rosmarin, 63, fashion maverick and founder of Tootsies, had a retail career that evolved from vintage clothing and accessories to designer ready-to-wear.
The Houston native began selling recycled clothing out of a garage. He expanded to a brick-and-mortar store, Honest Threads, focusing on vintage pieces.
Rosmarin opened the first Tootsies store in Houston’s Galleria area in 1975, introducing European lines to the city. He moved Tootsies to Highland Village in 1985, setting the bar for luxury shopping in Houston. He also supported numerous organizations through financial gifts and events held at Tootsies.
Rosmarin continued to expand his vision, moving Tootsies to the West Avenue development in 2011. There are also Tootsies in Dallas and Atlanta. “Mickey loved and sought out unique and masterfully created experiences for his customers,” said longtime friend, model and fashion show producer Leonard Matuszewski. “Shows and events were a part of that magic he so brilliantly embraced.” — D.M.P.
RICHARD J. SCHWARTZ
Richard J. Schwartz, 77, was ceo of the former Jonathan Logan Inc., which was once the world’s largest women’s apparel company. After graduating from Cornell University, he joined Jonathan Logan, an affordable dress label started by his father, David, with $7,500 in 1944. David would take the company public in 1960. It was the first American women’s apparel company to do so, and also the first to exceed $100 million in annual sales.
By 1964, Richard started creating new divisions, including London Fog, Etienne Aigner, Rose Marie Reid, Misty Harbor, Bleecker Street, Villager, Simplicity Patterns and Youth Guild. By 1969, it had sales of $250 million and $13 million in net profits. Within 10 years, Richard Schwartz had grown sales to more than $405 million, and the group had dozens of showrooms and 42 manufacturing facilities, serving more than 20,000 retailers and clients.
He resigned in 1985 after a hostile takeover from United Merchants and Manufacturing, which eventually acquired Logan for $195 million. Schwartz then became a private investor, art collector, patron and philanthropist, life trustee and former president of the Smithsonian Museum Archives of American Art, vice chairman of the Friends of Arts and Embassies and president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art American Wing Bryant Fellows, and much more. — D.M.P.
A pioneer of knitwear with a frizzled red mane, Sonia Rykiel will be remembered for her free-flowing designs in vibrant patterns — a carefree cornerstone of Parisian chic.
The popular French designer, who died in August at age 86, opened her boutique in Saint-Germain amid the riots of 1968. Through her decades-long career, Rykiel created clothes to accompany women during successive waves of political and intellectual upheaval.
Rykiel was known for long, slim shapes, but in forgiving fabrics that allowed women to move in comfort. She favored stripes, and her collections usually featured garments in her signature palette of red, black, whites and beige.
“She epitomizes a certain brand of ‘French-ness’ and Paris since the Sixties — free and elegant girls, with French style, French attitude and French freedom, both erotic and intellectual,” Christian Lacroix said of Rykiel. As a person, Rykiel “had this tremendous seduction: her eyes, voice, attitudes, words.”
Rykiel was rarely seen in public in recent years as Parkinson’s disease tightened its grip, but French editors and designers continued to flock to her upbeat shows, where models always smiled and sometimes danced down the runway.
“She represented a true French designer,” said Alber Elbaz, who designed for “women that are modern and active and gorgeous.” — ROBERT WILLIAMS
Aileen Mehle chronicled Nouvelle Society in a witty column for WWD and W under the “Suzy” byline, gently needling her subjects using “always the scalpel, never the hammer,” according to the late John B. Fairchild.
She died Nov. 11 at age 98.
She first came to the attention of New York society via Truman Capote, when she was writing about Palm Beach and Miami’s wealthy set for the Miami Daily News. She later wrote for the New York Journal-American, The Daily News, The New York Post and for WWD from 1991 to 2005.
A titian-haired beauty, her personal style echoed that of Elizabeth Taylor in the Sixties and Seventies — think caftans, massive jewelry and sky-high hair.
Mehle told Life magazine in 1966: “What I do is somewhere between ditch-digging and galley-slaving. It is a neck-swiveling, don’t-miss-anything job. When I walk into a party, while I’m saying, ‘Hello darling, hello dear, how are you?’ to everyone I haven’t seen since yesterday, I case the place. I have a fast eye. I also listen, listen, listen. When I come home dog-tired at 1 a.m., I often haven’t a line to go on. I’ve even put my little head down on the typewriter and cried a few rusty tears. But then I snap out of it and get to work.” — LISA LOCKWOOD
Often called “the Godfather of Rodeo Drive,” Fred Hayman personified the Power Eighties with his Giorgio Beverly Hills store and its best-selling fragrance, cultivating a place for customers to shop under a yellow-and-white-striped awning while enjoying a bar, pool table and cappuccino machine. He died in April at 90.
Born in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Hayman broke into the fashion industry after traveling the world and learning how to provide impeccable service at the Waldorf Astoria and Beverly Hilton Hotel. In 1961, he lent $12,000 to George Grant, who owned a shop called Giorgio, and Hayman became sole owner by 1964.
Giorgio Beverly Hills inspired Judith Krantz’s 1978 novel “Scruples,” and the cast of the TV series “Dynasty” shopped there. Eventually, Hayman sold the fragrances to Avon Products and closed the shop, rechristened as Fred Hayman Beverly Hills, in 1998.
“I remember walking into Giorgio Beverly Hills with my Vuitton suitcase full of jersey dresses,” said Diane von Furstenberg. “He gave me an order of 100 silk long dresses. Ali MacGraw, Candice Bergen and Rita Hayworth bought them. I was very proud.” — KHANH T.L. TRAN
Betsy Bloomingdale, who died July 19 at age 93, was a member of a tightly knit group of impeccably dressed wealthy women based in California. They had in common rich husbands, conservative politics and an affection for designers like James Galanos and Adolfo. But Bloomingdale was exceptional for her remarkable skills as a hostess, and her status as then-First Lady Nancy Reagan’s best friend. Bloomingdale and her husband, Alfred Bloomingdale, an heir to the Bloomingdale’s department store fortune, had a dazzling, high-profile social life in New York, Washington and the South of France.
Curator Kevin Jones, who worked with Bloomingdale for the 2009 exhibition of her clothes at the Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, said she “explained all of the mystery of the haute couture that has faded away. Now haute couture is used for media, but very few people lived the haute couture and she was one of them. For her, it was just a part of her life.”
As her friend Lynn Wyatt put it, “She was something from an era that is passing, and she was a major part of it.” — MARCY MEDINA
Krizia chairman Aldo Pinto, along with his wife, Mariuccia Mandelli, founder and designer, built and expanded the brand on a global scale. Pinto’s business acumen complemented Mandelli’s creativity and together they formed a power couple and a fixture in Milan’s social, economic and artistic circles.
Pinto died at 91 in March shortly after the death of his son, Andrea, from a brain tumor, and three months after his wife.
Born in Egypt, Pinto, a textile entrepreneur, left the country under the Gamal Abdel Nasser regime and met Mandelli in Milan, marrying her in Jamaica in 1968. They launched Krizia in 1954 and held their first show at Palazzo Pitti in Florence in 1964. At its peak in the Nineties, Pinto had grown Krizia into a $500 million business, leveraging a string of licenses and a global retail network. Long before other designers branched out into hotels, the couple in 1989 opened the exclusive resort K Club in Bermuda.
Krizia is now controlled by Chinese fashion retailer Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co. Ltd., based in Shenzhen. — LUISA ZARGANI
The gender-bending, glam-rock style of David Bowie, who died of cancer in January at age 69, was a major inspiration and reference to scores of fashion designers over several decades.
The pop legend’s aura transcended music, and his looks, from androgyny to Ziggy Stardust, mixing and matching gay and straight, working and middle class, resonate in collections today, and with a wide range of generations.
Designers from Alexander McQueen and Hedi Slimane to Jean Paul Gaultier, Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck, Tommy Hilfiger and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac were among the scores influenced by his style. They called him “a complete legend” (Christopher Bailey), “the boss of invention” (Paul Smith), “fearless in everything he did” (David Neville), “a chameleon, and an alien of sorts” (Christopher Kane).
“David Bowie was not only a music and style icon, but an innovator of pop culture in the world,” Hilfiger said. “Having Iman and David appear in my 2003 ad campaign was a highlight in my life.”
David Fisher, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear for Bloomingdale’s, said, “No one has been a more cutting-edge, forward-thinking contributor to fashion trend than Bowie. He was the premier fashion icon of the last four decades, and his creativity will be impossible to replicate.” — D.M.P.
Joan Helpern, creative director and designer of Joan & David, was a pioneer of comfortable yet stylish shoes for working women. She died May 8 at her home at the Carlyle Hotel at age 89.
She and her late husband, David, from whom she was legally separated, founded their footwear company in 1967 in Cambridge, Mass. Their shoes blended comfort and good looks for working women and, by 1990, the label was available in more than 100 retailers throughout the U.S. and Europe, including Ann Taylor, Neiman Marcus and the Helperns’ own Joan & David boutiques. In the early Nineties, sales were approaching $100 million. The Helperns sold their company and the rights to their label in 2000 after a series of business reversals.
Helpern won an American Fashion Critics Coty award in 1978, in addition to many other honors from the footwear industry. — Lisa Lockwood
Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British architect famous for her curving, sculptural designs and dramatic creations, died in March of a heart attack at 65. Hadid worked with brands including Fendi, Swarovski, De Beers and Georg Jensen, for which she had designed a jewelry line. Among her most famous works were The Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Scotland; the Vitra Fire Station in Germany; Guangzhou Opera House in China; MAXXI Italian National Museum of 21st-Century Arts in Rome; BMW’s Leipzig, Germany, factory; the Dubai Opera House, and a 90-meter ski jump in Innsbruck, Austria. The first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, she was twice awarded the Riba Stirling Prize, the U.K.’s most prestigious architectural prize. Among her highest-profile works was a 2007 project dedicated to Chanel’s classic quilted handbag. Hadid’s “contemporary art container” had a gridlike surface that evoked the bag’s quilted surface. Chanel’s resort show in Seoul last year was held at the DDP, a modernistic space designed by Hadid with the Korean studio Samoo.
“One genius less in the world,” said Karl Lagerfeld. “There are few people I admired as much as her…Her influence was immense and will last.” — D.M.P.
Fashion lovers and New Yorkers alike mourned the passing of celebrated fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, 87, this summer after he suffered a stroke.
Revered in fashion circles, Cunningham, who is best known for his candid, street-style photography, was a fixture at runway shows and on the streets of New York, where he was often seen riding his bicycle to events in his habitual blue button-down French worker’s jacket and khaki pants.
A former milliner, Cunningham spent 50 years chronicling fashion and society, initially for John B. Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Daily, where he was the first American journalist to write about Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Paul Gaultier, and then later at The Chicago Tribune. He joined The New York Times in the late Seventies as a photographer, where he diligently documented changes in dress habits, and as a result, larger cultural shifts. Over his career, he was awarded France’s L’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres in 2008 and was the subject of the 2011 documentary, “Bill Cunningham New York.”
Although mild-mannered Cunningham was often at the epicenter of the flashiest parties, he saw himself as a mere worker, who was driven to record the beauty of the clothing, not necessarily the fanfare of the scene or the people taking part in it. — ALEXANDRA STEIGRAD
MARK S. HANDLER
One of the key figures behind Macy’s rise to the pinnacle of U.S. retailing in the Seventies and Eighties was Mark S. Handler, a skilled merchant and highly respected leader, who died at age 83 in July. Handler, known for his interpersonal skills, had a long career at Macy’s, starting in the training squad, becoming a misses’ sportswear buyer, joining Macy’s former Bamberger’s division, becoming president and chief operating officer of Macy’s in 1980, and chief merchandising officer in 1992. After the company filed for bankruptcy in January 1992, Handler was cochairman and cochief executive officer, later shifting to executive director until his contract ended in 1995. Handler and his longtime boss, the late Edward Finkelstein (Macy’s chairman and ceo during the growth years until the chain’s bankruptcy) formed a partnership that proved innovative and transformative for the retailer, bringing panache and innovations like the Cellar, once a bustling format for kitchen goods and food. They developed a stable of private brands like INC International Concepts and Charter Club that became industry models, and lured uptown socialites down to Herald Square with black-tie dinners that supported charities or launched in-store happenings like the annual flower show. Handler maintained a formal demeanor, but underneath it, he had a disarming charm and wit. — DAVID MOIN
Wilkes Bashford, a San Francisco retailer and master of luxury retailing and superior customer service, died in January at 82.
Opening his namesake store in Union Square in 1966 to serve a “bold, conservative” customer, he’s credited with being among the first to bring such top Italian brands as Giorgio Armani, Brioni and Versace to the U.S.
Bashford expanded, eventually moving into a seven-story townhouse in 1984. He added women’s in 1978, and in 2001 opened a unit in Palo Alto, Calif., to serve Silicon Valley. His exquisite taste level was matched by the extravagant fashion shows he staged in the Seventies and Eighties showcasing his store’s unique blend of sartorial and contemporary fashions. Personally, he had an unmistakable style, often making Esquire’s International Best Dressed List.
The company was forced to file bankruptcy in 2009, and was purchased by his longtime friends, the Mitchells Family of Stores, that year, but Bashford — and his ever-present dachshund — stayed on, greeting customers and acting as a jovial ambassador until the end.
“He was truly a legend and pioneer,” said Bob Mitchell, copresident of Mitchells, “but most importantly, one of the kindest men I have ever known.” — JEAN E. PALMIERI
Known as “Fred the Furrier,” Fur Vault founder Fred Schwartz died in August at age 84. The Bronx native graduated from City College and joined his brother, Harold, in a fur-buying office where the mantra was undercutting competitors. Lining up a deal with singer Pat Boone to endorse raccoon collars, marketing “hairmuffs” — earmuffs made of rabbit hair — and partnering with Orchids of Hawaii to sell gift boxes of orchid corsages and mink scarves were some of the ways they built a following.
In the mid-Seventies, Fred reluctantly agreed to appear in his company’s kitschy “dance with me…” commercials. He connected with customers by speaking directly to them, for instance addressing the TV audience by one woman’s name, as in “Hey, Marilyn…” In the late Sixties, the brothers began to team with department stores, from S. Klein to Bloomingdale’s, to run their fur departments. The Fur Vault went public in 1984 with reported sales of $50 million. After retiring, he ramped up his philanthropic efforts to protect human rights. — D.M.P.