The Man Who Made Rodeo Hot
A new book celebrates Giorgio's Fred Hayman, Hollywood's king of glamour and the first to merge celebrities, glitz and shopping.
What Vidal Sassoon is to hair and halston is to clothes is what Fred Hayman is to Hollywood fashion: a man who saw magic in a specific moment, took it to the masses and reaped rewards beyond his wildest dreams.
Hayman -- as documented in the new 400-page hardcover book Fred Hayman: The Extraordinary Difference ($65, A+R Projects) -- is the man who put the Rodeo Drive "golden triangle" on the fashion map in the '70s and '80s, on par with Fifth Avenue and the Champs-Elysees. "I always had a vision, first for Giorgio and then for Rodeo Drive. Both had to be the best -- the best in service and quality. Rodeo is still the only place I shop," says Hayman, now 86, who opened his high-fashion boutique Giorgio in 1961, long before Rodeo became the celebrity glitz capital that tourists, movies and TV shows have come to idolize. Hayman's instinctual retail acumen made Giorgio the spot for stars to shop, before having celebrities show up in your store was a prerequisite for sales: Joan Collins, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, Peggy Lipton, Natalie Wood, Shirley MacLaine, Jane Fonda, even Madonna were there.
He branded his best-selling perfume not just Giorgio, but Giorgio Beverly Hills, and along the way made over the town to his high standards: glamorous with a big dose of Hollywood-style hype. When he premiered the perfume in 1981 with then-wife Gale, he spent $250,000 to launch it with a full-block tent party with 80 pounds of beluga caviar. "The thread of Fred's life is the coming of age for Beverly Hills and L.A.," says the book's author, fashion journalist Rose Apodaca, co-writer of Rachel Zoe's Style A to Zoe.
The Switzerland-born Hayman -- a father of three and now married to fourth wife Betty Endo -- came to the U.S. in 1941 at 16, got his start at the Waldorf Astoria in hospitality then ran catering at the Beverly Hilton. Apodaca weaves his story into the big picture: Where Hayman saw a new brand of celebrity culture, Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins soon followed -- making larger-than-life mythology of the Reagan era's big-shouldered, power-suited divas, which can be traced to Hayman's Giorgio at 273 Rodeo Drive. "I based my book Hollywood Wives on the shopping habits of the very famous women who would have lunch at Ma Maison and then move on to the fabulous Giorgio!" says Collins.
A-list women counted on him as their prestylist personal-glamour guru; he carried Zandra Rhodes, Thierry Mugler and Karl Lagerfeld's Chloe, long before Saks and Neiman Marcus. Without him, stars might still be wearing see-through bell-bottoms to the Oscars, as Barbra Streisand so brazenly did in 1969 when she won best actress for Funny Girl. Let's face it: Left to their own devices, most stars have to be re-created as fashion stars. Hayman did just that, becoming the first Oscar fashion coordinator in 1988, hired by his friend producer Allan Carr. In his 11 years at that position, he was instrumental in connecting luxury designers with Oscar nominees, creating the world's most-watched red carpet, which has become a branding bonanza for fashion houses.
"He thought the Academy Awards should be more glamorous," says Wanda McDaniel, executive vp entertainment industry communications at Giorgio Armani, who worked with Hayman early on. "He laid out the red carpet for everybody, getting stars to wear the next-season gowns of European couturiers instead of store-bought things and their own creations."
The boutique had a full bar, a pool table and everything from $1,500 dresses to $15 signature yellow-and-white-striped bags. "Fred was the first to mix high- and low-end merchandise," says Apodaca. "They thought he was crazy, but that's the model for retail now."
And Hayman knew how to handle his pampered clients. His friend Zsa Zsa Gabor, married to his former employer, Conrad Hilton, would come in and return clothes that hadn't been purchased there. Candy Spelling once brought in a Giorgio gift certificate that was 20 years old. Hayman let them all slide. He was all about glamour and elegance, "but he is also the nicest guy in the world," Apodaca notes.
In 1987, Hayman sold the fragrance and rights to the Giorgio name to Avon for $165 million, an unprecedented sum. He reopened his store under the banner Fred Hayman, closing it in 1998. These days, 273 Rodeo Drive is the home of Louis Vuitton, which leases from Hayman, who still owns the building. But LV changed the address to 295 Rodeo Drive. "They actually retired Fred's number, he was so associated with it," says Apodaca.
In other words, he's the Babe Ruth of Beverly Hills.
- 1954 Moved to L.A. to run catering at the new Beverly Hilton. Lured the Golden Globes there; they never left.
- 1961 Invested $30,000 in a small retail store called Giorgio, owned by two friends. In 1962, he bought out founder George Grant (the "Giorgio" of the name).
- 1963 Appointed vp and GM of the Ambassador Hotel while running Giorgio.
- 1970s Brought fashion-forward European designers to L.A., attracted celebs and even kept a bartender at the store.
- 1977 Pioneered the Rodeo Drive Committee, which was instrumental in turning Rodeo into a world-class shopping mecca.
- 1978 Judith Krantz immortalized Giorgio and its glam clientele in Scruples.
- 1981 Launched Giorgio Beverly Hills perfume with third wife, Gale. They revolutionized the fragrance business by being the first to use scent strips.
- 1987 Sold the Giorgio perfume and name to Avon for $165 million. Reopened his store as Fred Hayman.
- 1988 Hired as the Academy Awards' fashion coordinator, helping usher in the modern red carpet.
- 1998 Closed his store and leased the space to Louis Vuitton.
- 2011 Honored with the Rodeo Drive Walk of Fame award.