Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Fred Hayman, the stylish entrepreneur who turned the Beverly Hilton into a center of high society then transformed Rodeo Drive into an internationally known luxury retail destination, died Thursday at his home in Malibu. He was 90.

Hayman, known as the “godfather of Rodeo Drive,” died after a long illness, according to spokeswoman Katy Sweet.

He was perhaps best known as the longtime owner of Giorgio Beverly Hills, famed for its striped yellow and white awnings on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way.

A native of Switzerland, Hayman was a teenager when he moved to New York to work at the Waldorf-Astoria. But he was lured west in 1954 by Conrad Hilton, who hired him to oversee banquet facilities at the Beverly Hilton. His European flair and knack for personalized service made the hotel a major draw for high society.

In 1961, he became a partner in Giorgio Beverly Hills, but he eventually bought out his colleagues and transformed the boutique into the luxury anchor of what was then a little-known retail district.

Using a Rolls Royce to shuttle high-end customers to the shop, Giorgio became a glamour destination for the rich and famous, attracting other luxury brands to the area.

Hayman later introduced the Giorgio Beverly Hills perfume, which he marketed with such flair that it became an international sensation. The fragrance was initially available only at the store or through a toll-free phone number.

Hayman sold the fragrance and name to Avon for $165 million. He renamed the Giorgio store Fred Hayman Beverly Hills and continued to develop highly successful fragrances. He kept the store until 1997, when he leased it to Louis Vuitton.

Hayman is survived by his wife, Betty; sons, Charles and Robert; daughter, Nicole; and 10 grandchildren.

Memorial services are still being planned. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles or Homes for Our Troops California.

— Wire reports 

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