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His Passion & Commitment To The City He Calls Homeï¿½
By: Mimi Makabi
Fred Hayman, a Beverly Hillsicon and classic, is the man truly responsible for putting Rodeo Drive on the international shopping map and transforming it from a provincial retail district, to a glamorously luxurious midway that caters to the world's most affluent shoppers. His passion, vision, and unprecedented commitment to Beverly Hills, has led him to cultivate a city that exemplifies class and luxury.
When one thinks of Beverly Hills, a few images instantly come to mind—wealth, glamour, style, class, movie stars, and of course Rodeo Drive. In the last four decades, Rodeo Drive has become a place where people come to see and be seen. It's also a place where some of the hottest high fashion trends begin. This is all thanks to one famous address and one extraordinary man—273 Rodeo Drive, better known as Fred Hayman Beverly Hills (a.k.a. Giorgio Beverly Hills).
With his iconic yellow-and-white stripes that embellished everything including: the infamous awnings at his store, shopping bags, perfume boxes and stationery, Fred Hayman not only set the style in Beverly Hills—but opened its doors to the world. As the founder and first chairman of the Rodeo Drive Committee 25 years ago, Hayman has done more than any individual to catapult Rodeo Drive to its current envied position as one of the world’s most glamorous shopping venues.
It all started at the age of 16, when Hayman came to New York from his native Switzerland and began a career at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. “I started at $15 a week, six days a week, with many number of hours, and that was fun. I learned a lot and I did exactly what I wanted to do—I was an apprentice cook,” Hayman recalls. There, his skills as a restaurant and banquet catering manager led the late Conrad Hilton to invite Hayman to open and helm the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California. With his European hospitality, knowledge of cuisine and personalized service, Hayman soon established the Beverly Hills-based hotel as the most prestigious locale for important political, celebrity and society events.
By the early 1960s, Hayman became a silent partner in a small clothing store located on Dayton Way, off Rodeo Drive. In 1962, he bought out his partners, soon devoting his full energies to creating the landmark that became Giorgio Beverly Hills and, later, FRED HAYMAN Beverly Hills. Hayman recalls, “Rodeo Dr. was a lovely street. It had so much charm. It had more individual merchants. It had a bakery shop, a toy store—it was much more of a community street than it is today. Now it’s an international street.”
Occupying the prime corner of Rodeo Drive, Hayman drew on his experience in the hotel business to create an environment that would “entertain customers in grand style”. His unique and innovative merchandising approach focused on unprecedented service. His individualized notes of thanks to his customers became a tradition attesting to his ingenious approach to marketing. Hayman explains, “I have always liked marketing a lot. I like exploring differences. I think you should differentiate yourself and not be like everybody else—it’s boring.” He continues, “It’s boring to go by the book. If you are creative in any way, you should express yourself—that’s what I did!”
He introduced fashions of then relatively unknown and talented designers, including Halston, Giorgio Sant’Angelo and Thea Porter, among many others. With a client list boasting the most recognizable names from the worlds of entertainment, politics, sports and the arts, it was not unusual to spot a myriad of celebrated faces on any given day at the bustling Beverly Hills boutique. Yet it also remained the store where the local clientele shopped. He created an atmosphere that was so convivial, that Hayman recalls, “My store was always filled with stars. There were stars that sat there all day. It was interesting for them and they weren’t afraid of the people. They were at home there.”
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