PARIS — François Dalle, who was chief executive officer of L’Oréal from 1957 to 1984, died on Tuesday in Geneva. He was 87 years old.
Born March 18, 1918, in Hesdin, Pas-de-Calais, France, Dalle entered the world of beauty with the help of his friend Andre Bettencourt — the future spouse of Lilian Schueller, daughter of L’Oréal’s founder, Eugene Schueller.
During his lifetime, Dalle had other illustrious friends, including his former roommate, François Mitterand, who later became the president of France.
In 1942, Dalle joined Monsavon, a L’Oréal subsidiary, and Eugene Schueller promoted him quickly up company ranks; Dalle became managing director in 1948. Upon Schueller’s death in 1957, Dalle became L’Oréal’s managing director and remained at the company’s helm until retiring in 1984. Dalle was succeeded by Charles Zviak, whose position was later filled by the French beauty giant’s current chairman and ceo, Lindsay Owen-Jones.
Dalle remained president of L’Oréal’s strategic committee until 1990.
Although L’Oréal has long held the top spot among the world’s beauty companies, Dalle told WWD in May 1984, “We are not presumptuous or anxious. There is no reason to believe our success will continue.” Dalle was an advocate of the power of advertising, and “the constant betterment, the amelioration of quality in existing products.”
Dalle held various positions at Nestlé; Saipo, L’Oréal’s Italian subsidiary, and Gesparal, the holding company owned by L’Oréal’s two major shareholders, Nestlé and the Bettencourt family. He was also president of honor at L’Insitut de L’Enterprise, of L’Association Enterprise et Progres and of the review “Humanisme et Entreprise.”
Dalle is survived by six children and seven grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in September near Paris.