As Rodeo Drive prepares to welcome you back and reopen over the coming days and weeks, what better way to look forward than to look back at how it all came about.
Celebrate Fred Hayman The Extraordinary Difference:
The Story of Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Glamour and the Showman Who Sold it All
In a first conversation between his youngest son Robert Hayman, who continues to carry forward his father’s legacy as an active member of the Rodeo Drive Committee, and the book’s author Rose Apodaca, you will hear firsthand what it was like to be in the swirl when fashion, fame and everything in between started happening on Rodeo Drive, thanks to its leading showman.
The vision for what was to become one of the world’s most storied luxury thoroughfares — firmly positioned at the intersection of retail, fashion and entertainment — belonged to the one and only, Fred Hayman. Known as the Godfather of Rodeo Drive, this American revolutionary is renowned internationally for transforming the perception of Los Angeles style, how the beauty business worked, how magazines smelled, and the potential for retail and branding. Under the famed yellow and white striped awnings of Giorgio Beverly Hills and, later, his own signature brand, Fred Hayman innovated a space where clients, many famous, could hang out at a bar and play pool while shopping; and radically changed the worlds of beauty, fashion and the red carpet.
Listen to Rodeo Drive-The Podcast to hear more about Fred Hayman in the premier episode, It Smelled Like Money – The Story of Giorgio Beverly Hills.
Fred Hayman looking dapper outside Giorgio.
George Grant, Barbara Hayman and Fred Hayman inside Giorgio c. 1961.
In between two anniversaries—what would be his 95th birthday on May 29 and a decade since the publishing of his fascinatingly candid biography—we invite you to celebrate the life and work of an individual whose unrivalled passion for Beverly Hills made an extraordinary difference still resonating today beyond the famed zip code.
Fred Hayman Place, 90210. Today, behind the Louis Vuitton flagship on Rodeo Drive at Dayton Way, a street sign marks the spot where Fred Hayman’s retail empire–Giorgio Beverly Hills, followed by Fred Hayman Beverly Hills—ruled the zone from 1961 to 1998.
Rose Apodaca: So Robert, your father, Fred Hayman, went west in 1954, from the storied Waldorf in New York City to oversee the banquet and catering operations at the glimmering new Beverly Hilton. Mr. Hayman played a key part in raising the hotel’s role in the city’s emerging social and celebrity scene, including orchestrating starry film premieres and campaigning to install the Golden Globes at the Hilton. While he obviously adored you three kids, he was very much defined by his profession. What did such a father appear like to a young boy?
Robert Hayman: My dad was only 29 when Conrad Hilton tapped him. Dad was always beautifully dressed, very dapper, distinguished in that European style, even at such a young age. A hotel is 24/7, and he worked the job that way. Rarely an off day. But we would see him all the time. We lived in the hotel. We would have dinner together. He would take us to different areas of the hotel, from the L’Escoffier to the magnificent pool. The 1960 Democratic Convention took place there and, and, even as a toddler, I remember the excitement of JFK’s helicopter landing on top of the parking structure.
Fred Hayman watches as John F. Kennedy, Jr., signs a document at the Beverly Hilton during the 1960 Democratic Convention.
Fred Hayman appearing in a Smirnoff ad, seated on the Beverly Hilton diving board.
Rose: In 1961, your father invested in a friend’s struggling business just off Rodeo Drive, a women’s clothes shop called Giorgio after the owner George Grant. By 1966, Mr. Hayman assumed ownership of the 600-square-foot boutique, installed striped awnings and a tall étager from home with crystal goblets of booze to keep men occupied while their wives and girlfriends shopped. What was that like?
Robert: My dad and another friend, Jack Axelrod, both invested. But by 1963, my dad was the sole owner. He saw promise in it. He got SBA loans to fund expansion from a front door on Dayton to Rodeo. Gale (Hayman’s third wife) had an incredible eye for fashion. They started buying from designers in London and New York that no one else had yet on the west coast— Zandra Rhodes, Diane von Furstenberg and Halston. I’d go after school. I was 7 or 8, and he’d give me a little cash for cleaning ashtrays and stuffing envelopes with the thank-you notes he’d have typed up and would sign in red ink. That was one of the many marketing ideas my dad brought to retail from years in hospitality. As Giorgio grew, it became like an amusement park, a club that clients could enjoy that happened to also sell clothes. Other retailers picked up on this, too, and it made the overall Rodeo experience even better.
Inside Giorgio, c. 1962, when anything could happen once Mr. Hayman took over the shop.
Gale and Fred Hayman inside a slowly expanding Giorgio, c. 1972.
Rose: As the store’s profile raised, did your classmates ever assume your father’s name was Giorgio? Did you ever get driven to a school function or friend’s party in the glamorous 1952 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith that your father had to deliver clients and their purchases to and from Giorgio?
Robert: All the time! I would have to break it to them that he was a Swiss guy named Fred. As for the Rolls, it was already a very distinctive car at the time, but not because it was a Rolls. I went to Beverly High, and kids came to school in Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Ferraris, Rolls Royces… But this was a vintage model, complete with a driver, a guy named Joe who would deliver the purchases. He also tended the bar at the store. The Rolls is still in the family, now parked in my garage.
Rose: That Rolls was only one of many bold ways he marketed the brand. The yellow and white branding was another, the beautiful in-store oak bar, and having the inhouse seamstress stitch in a second label in every coat, one with the Giorgio logo. But he didn’t stop there: he also led the positioning of Rodeo Drive as a world-class shopping destination.
Robert: He had a vision. He believed Rodeo Drive could become so much more. In the 1960s, the street was like any Main Street, although with some famous neighbors. It had a gas station and toy store. Where Via Rodeo stands now was a parking lot with a bank. My dad rallied the other retailers on the street. He wasn’t afraid to make things happen and that included writing a check. He was very, very committed to Rodeo. But it was a team effort, too, that included many other great retailers on the street.
Rose: Among your father’s greatest coups that put Rodeo Drive on the map nationally was when his longtime friend and client, Merv Griffin, did his show there in 1978. It was the biggest program on TV, and he devoted a full hour to Rodeo Drive—unheard of at the time.
Robert: Talk about another visionary. Merv helped reinvent television. He and Vanna White, who appears on his “Wheel of Fortune,” were great friends in promoting the store. There was a parade on Rodeo one year and Merv served as marshal. Also, my dad clothed Vanna and Pat Sajak for the shows, and the credits would freeze frame for five seconds on Giorgio Beverly Hills and, later, Fred Hayman Beverly Hills. That was great exposure. Another great friend of the store and my father was Judith Krantz. I went to high school with her son. In interviews, she would say the glamour of Giorgio served as an inspiration for her blockbuster book, “Scruples” (released in 1978).
Fred Hayman interviewed by Merv Griffin at Giorgio 1978. Giorgio was an inspiration for Judith Krantz’s blockbuster book and miniseries Scruples.
Escape from Planet of The Apes….to Giorgio.
Rose: When the first fragrance, Giorgio Beverly Hills, was released in 1981, it was a phenom on so many levels. No one dared to launch a commercial perfume outside of New York or Paris, let alone a shop in LA! It was a powerful scent and a pricey one at that. It was impossible to get and repeatedly sold out. Did any of your friends’ parents ask you for a hook-up?
Robert: I was asked all the time! There really was nothing I could do. It was an exciting time. Gale zeroed in on the notes of the scent, and my father was behind the marketing. They launched with this incredible party in the parking lot across the street with a giant yellow and white tent they had to search for all over the country. All the nearby restaurants catered. But the demand was as much about the distinctive scent as the marketing: distribution was very limited to only the store and, later, to a single Bloomingdale’s in New York. It was the first scent strip in magazines, an innovation from 3M that became an advertising standard throughout the ’80s. We did direct mail and had an 800 number. Some people are really strong creatively; some, analytically. Fred Hayman was strong both ways.
A marketing breakthrough: an 800 number and direct mail helped make the scent a best-seller.
Giorgio launches in Beverly Hills with giant yellow and white tents.
Giorgio Launches at Bloomingdale’s in New York City.
Rose: Just out of college, you went to London to oversee Giorgio’s European expansion. In fact, of his three children, you are the only one who worked in the family business. What was it like working for Fred Hayman?
Robert: He always made sure that there was someone else I would report to, and that was smart because we’re both very strong individuals. He was probably a little bit more charming than I am! Gale worked extremely hard at it, too. But he was very demanding. He worked around the clock. He was so passionately engaged with the store and the fragrance. Ultimately, it’s what drove the great success.
The store was always an extension of home, from the bar and pool table, to dining with clients—always catered by the local restaurants.
Decades before Juicy Couture, Gale Hayman made track suits chic with her branded take.
Robin Leach, host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, at Giorgio.
Rose: In 1987, your father shocked the industry, yet again, when he sold the Giorgio brand and beauty business to Avon for $165 million. The deal was announced just days after his 62ndbirthday. He could’ve retired. Instead, he entered 1989 by replacing the striped awnings with solid yellow and a new name over the front door on Rodeo and Dayton Way: Fred Hayman Beverly Hills. He also took yet another risk in his career by introducing a signature fragrance and leather accessories collection through the then-new groundbreaking Home Shopping Network; as well as actively pushing Rodeo Drive forward. He could have just closed up shop and lived a very comfortable life. Were you surprised that he did not?
Robert: I was surprised when he announced he was retiring to Malibu, where he and Betty (his then wife) already had a home. Under the deal with Avon, he had the Giorgio brand for another 18 months. He owned the real estate. So I was not surprised when he decided to continue under a different name, his own. He just couldn’t stay out of the limelight, away from work, away from Beverly Hills.
With the stunning sale to Avon, Fred Hayman’s footing on Rodeo was as solid as ever.
In January 1989, the iconic stripes on Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way went solid, announcing Giorgio Beverly Hills was now Fred Hayman Beverly Hills.
Fred Hayman and Vanna White stroll between his eponymous store at 273 Rodeo Drive and the classic Rolls Royce with the 273 license plate.
Joe Peckinpack loading up the Rolls.
Rose: And if all that wasn’t enough for anyone, Mr. Hayman also kept up the pace as the official fashion coordinator of the Academy Awards.
Robert: My dad always loved old Hollywood. He underwrote a big Hollywood costume fundraiser (in 1982). He bought four giant Hurrells for the store that are now in the memorabilia room at the Malibu house. He had a hand in dressing many of his famous clients going back years. Farah Fawcett wore a slinky Stephen Burrows dress to the Oscars (in 1978). Anne Bancroft and other stars came in for Bob Mackie dresses and Judith Leiber bags. Then Allan Carr, a friend and client (and producer of the Academy Awards) asked my dad to be the official fashion coordinator (in 1989). Dad would appear in a pre-show talking about fashion trends. He wasn’t even paid. But he did it because it was good for the store and it was good for Rodeo.
Fred Hayman with Karl Lagerfeld.
Fred Hayman with Ali MacGraw.
Fred Hayman at his annual Oscar fashion preview with models.
At the 1978 Oscars, Farah Fawcett-Majors dripping in a Stephen Burrows gown from Giorgio Beverly Hills.
Supermodel Cindy Crawford signed photograph was just one of hundreds by fans of Fred Hayman that studded the walls of his landmark store.
When jailbird Zsa Zsa Gabor met the press, she made a point of donning a sweatshirt from her longtime friend’s famed store. “Did you see the news, Fred?”she would purr to him the next day by phone.
Rose: For all his public flourish, Mr. Hayman was always ready to write a generous check—and without fanfare—to help causes such as the homeless in downtown; support cultural programming such as Friends of the Library and the L.A. Opera; or fund decades of initiatives in his beloved Beverly Hills. One of the secrets revealed with the book is the down payment he made on “Torso,” the elegant figure sculpted by the late, great Robert Graham.
Robert: He loved Beverly Hills. He could be so high profile, but he really did so many things behind the scenes. He never received due credit for getting “Torso” to Rodeo Drive. But, as executor of his estate, what I found really amazing was the number of people he helped throughout the years. There were gifts and there were loans, many large ones which never got repaid. There are some very high-profile people who ran into hard financial times and he supported to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure they remained positive icons in our lives. He really loved helping people.
Anjelica Huston and Robert Graham with Graham’s Torso (2003), commissioned by the Rodeo Drive Committee, on Rodeo Drive.
Rose: There are so many ways your father, Fred Hayman, made the extraordinary difference in a city which he championed for five colorful decades to make extraordinary. As his son, Robert, and one who also followed your own business and marketing instincts to build a fortune of your own, what stands out the most to you about the extraordinary life of your father that you would like others to know and remember?
Robert: As much as he worked, as hard as he worked, he was always about doing the right thing, whether it was helping people or doing more for Rodeo Drive. He was instrumental in so many ways behind the scenes. He was a visionary. He really helped shape the city in a very positive way. As a family, we are proud there’s an award now that’s given by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce called the Fred Hayman Visionary Award. Rodeo Drive has remained an extremely exciting street, in part, because of retailers such as Fred Hayman. As it re-emerges during this pandemic, I think he would be very proud to see how it has continued to evolve into something better and better every year, and how it will continue anew.
By 1995, Giorgio was a tiny perfume shop up the street from its original location under Fred Hayman’s eye. But as popular culture shorthand, it still made a big statement and a bag was included in this scene from the year’s breakout movie, Clueless.
Decades after capping his retail presence on Rodeo, Mr. Hayman’s profile continued to be a part of the civic scene of the city he adored—and shaped.
Hayman toddlers: Robert, Nicole and Charlie.
Photos courtesy Fred Hayman Archives unless otherwise noted.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Fred Hayman The Extraordinary Difference: The Story of Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Glamour and the Showman Who Sold it All , please contact Sayda Tobias firstname.lastname@example.org.