SEPT. MEMORIALS PLANNED FOR RICHARD SALOMON, 82
NEW YORK — A pair of memorial services are being planned for Richard B. Salomon, a powerful figure in the worlds of cosmetics and fashion.
Salomon, an 82-year-old resident of Stamford, Conn. died Thursday at Stamford Hospital. His son Richard E. Salomon said the cause of death was complications from recurrent pneumonia following several years of chronic lung disease.
The first memorial service is being arranged for mid-September in the New York Public Library, where Salomon was chairman of the board from 1977 to 1981, his son said. The library was one of many institutions that he supported through the years. Another service will follow later in the month at Brown University in Providence, R.I., Salomon’s alma mater. He served as chairman of the board of trustees from 1979 to 1988.
When Salomon was 24, he was named president of Charles of the Ritz, Inc., which was owned by Salomon’s uncle.
There subsequently was a merger with Lanvin. In 1964, Salomon was named chairman and chief executive officer of Lanvin-Charles of the Ritz, which held the fragrance and cosmetics license for Yves Saint Laurent, among other brands.
In 1965, Salomon acquired, through Ritz, control of YSL’s fashion business as well.
“He was more than a great cosmetics industry figure, he was a worldwide fashion figure,” Leonard Lauder, president and chief executive officer of EstÄe Lauder Cos., said Saturday. “He identified the young Saint Laurent early on. He also was responsible for the creation of Madison Avenue as one of the chicest shopping streets of the country, if not the world, by his decision to put a [Rive Gauche] boutique on Madison Avenue at 71st Street.
“He was one of the wisest people I have known,” said Lauder, adding that Salomon exhibited “a strong belief in people.” Said Lauder, “He wasn’t an egocentric like, say, Elizabeth Arden. He believed in having a strong group of people around him.”
As an indication of the breadth of his interest and the passion of his entrepreneurial zeal, Lauder noted that Salomon also was one of the early backers of architect Frank Gehry. According to Salomon’s son, he and the architect were partners in a short-lived business marketing Gehry’s cardboard furniture.
Salomon sold Ritz with its ownership of YSL to E.R. Squibb & Co. in 1971. Shortly afterwards, YSL and his partner, Pierre BergÄ, regained control of the fashion business. In 1986 they acquired their cosmetics and fragrance business by buying Ritz from Squibb.
In 1972, Salomon resigned as ceo of Ritz, but he continued as chairman. From 1971 to 1983 he was a member of the Squibb board and of the executive committee.
“He was very focused on his work and very dedicated to the industry,” said Annette Green, president of the Fragrance Foundation, noting that the organization named him to its Hall of Fame in 1978.
Green said that Salomon came to her aid 12 years ago when she was having difficulty finding backers to launch the Olfactory Research Fund.
“I’ll start it,” she recalled him saying, as he handed her a $5,000 check.
Salomon also was dedicated to the people he worked with, Green said. After Saint Laurent had named the women’s fragrance he was introducing in 1977 as Opium, the Squibb board recoiled at the resultant public protest. Board members wanted to change the name, but Salomon stopped them, Green recalled. “He stood his ground,” she said.
In addition to his son Richard, Salomon is survived by his wife, Edna Barnes Salomon; two other sons, Robert and Ralph, and 12 grandchildren.