Ralph Lauren’s barber, Clemente Dimonda, used to work on Jamaica Ave., in Queens.
Dimonda said. “One day, this man grab me by the jacket, and he say, ‘Look at me!’ I say, ‘I look at you!’ He say, ‘You’re too qualified for this area. You got to go to New York. You make a lot of money.’ Mr. Dimonda raised his finger and poked the air to finish: “I never forget.”
That was 50 years ago. Mr. Dimonda still wields scissors at age 85. He gives a “gentleman cut, no crazy look, high class, clean,” and uses old-fashioned supplies like witch hazel & cotton necklaces to catch loose hair.
After years located on 5th Avenue & 46th St., Mr. Dimonda now works from a shop designed by Mr. Lauren and tucked into the Polo headquarters at 650 Madison Ave. The operation looks like “the sort of a barbershop you’d expect to see on an ocean liner in the ’30s.”
Tommy Hilfiger “used to come here for an excuse,” Dimonda suggested that Mr. Hilfiger was less interested in a haircut than a look around the Polo offices. “He used to come at night. One night I show him out, ‘Tommy, let’s go.’ He say, ‘No, go ahead, I follow you.’ I say, ‘No. You follow me.’ Since then, no more Tommy.” Mr. Hilfiger did not return a request for comment.
The weather, although warm, was pleasant. A good thing, as the celebration during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) was held in Central Park at Bethesda Terrace.
The guest list included fashion icons Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Anna Wintour (of course); also, Steven Spielberg, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain.
Hillary Clinton, who often wears Lauren’s clothing, was present. Yet it was Oprah Winfrey who was most quotable. ”Your story exalts our collective story,” Oprah said. “Your designs define integrity.”
It was Oprah who toasted Lauren.
“The real reason we are here is not the show,” she said. “It’s you. You Ralph Lauren, and 50 years of your designing our dreams. When I first moved to Chicago and was making enough money to pay my rent… and still had something left over, I thought I was a success. My idea of celebrating that success wasn’t to go out and get a fancy car, or art or jewelry… it, was a Ralph Lauren bath towel that I had [craved] for over 10 years.”
Ralph Lauren will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his company at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park during New York Fashion Week.
The fashion show and dinner, scheduled for September 7, will benefit the Central Park Conservancy, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring and maintaining the beloved New York City park.
It’s been tough road for Ralph Lauren as the company approaches it’s 50th year.
Revenue has fallen, the company is closing it’s iconic Fifth Avenue flagship store, and it’s legacy strategy and products are struggling to find a new path in the changing retail landscape.
However, a revitalized management team, led by new CEO Patrice Louvet, appears to be navigating a course toward success.
Last week, Ralph Lauren reported results that beat analysts’ expectations. On a global basis, margins improved, promotions and inventory decreased. (Although North American sales for Q4 were down, Asia and EU were up).
The stock popped +14%.
Mr. Louvet has a refreshing focus on consumer insights and path-to-purchase, a “listen more and speak less” approach. I’m a fan of Mr. Louvet, the refreshed RL management team, the brand(s) and the company, and… of discovering and delivering on the consumer’s “job to be done.”