Charmed Life: A Brand Like No Other

As I work out all the elements of my look for tonight's bash co-hosted by my fantastic pals Arianne Philips and Jeremy Scott to celebrate my latest book, my thoughts go to the costume jewelry Fred Hayman created which was as much about style flourishes as marketing ingenuity.

Mr. Hayman, the subject of my 7-pound tome, had a rare knack for zeroing in on an uncharted opportunity for what we now commonly refer to as branding.

In the early days of Giorgio Beverly Hills, the burgeoning retailer had a rollicking business with fur-trimmed maxi coats and other luxe outerwear from Cuddlecoat. In those years of the 1960s and early 1970s, it wasn't unusual for better retailers to sew in a second label below that of the designer or brand. Recognizing that women would toss their coats over the back of a chair at a restaurant or other public place, Mr. Hayman had his Giorgio label sewn in upside down. This way it was easier to read right side up when the coat was slung over the back of a chair.

As the years progressed and his shopfront continued to expand along the first block of Rodeo Drive, Mr. Hayman erected striped yellow awnings to reflect those of the shopping bags. The shopping bag rep himself insisted that the yellow and white stripes were too garish and would never fly. But Mr. Hayman stuck to his guns. And when he and his then-wife Gale introduced a signature perfume, he once again pressed for striped packaging—despite the urging from the box manufacturer that is was, once again, too garish. As history tells it, Mr. Hayman was so right.

Perfumes—first under the Giorgio Beverly Hills banner, then Fred Hayman—were the single-most fruitful branding extension for the business. They broke records and conventions in the beauty industry and made the Haymans wealthy and well-known.

There were other items to be sure. The striped canvas Giorgio Beverly Hills bags became a covted souvenir, one that a young Jeremy Scott had to have when he visited this valhalla to excess with his familly in the 1980s. My former intern Brandee started carrying the one her grandmother had long saved when she began transcribing for the project.

Grannie's archives and now eBay are the sources now, more often than not, for the smattering of watches, rhinestone pins and charm bracelets that conveyed the store's name, address (273) and even the ancillary products such as the perfume bottles or bags.

And so for tonight's party at the new Caulfield's in Beverly Hills, I should really look into digging up one of those vintage charm bracelets. What a better way to honor the story of the man who knew how to make his mark in this world.


Photos by Ramona Rosales

Posted in Books, Current Affairs, Style

Leave a Comment