John G. Ledes, one of the most respected voices in the beauty publishing business, died peacefully on Tuesday, October 1, at his home in Katonah, New York. He would have been 94 on October 14.
John was the Editor and Publisher of Beauty Fashion and Cosmetic World, industry trade publications known for glossy event photography, business scoops and reports from the trenches of the retail industry. Anyone who was part of the beauty industry sought to be featured in his publications, especially in the photos spotlighting elegant events hosted by John and his wife, Sally. The roster of attendees read like a Who’s Who of the beauty industry, including Leonard A. Lauder, Charles Revson, Pierre Cardin and Lindsay Owen-Jones. The publication was much more than people watching: Beauty Fashion and Cosmetic World broke numerous news stories and introduced brands and trends to a fast-paced retail industry that didn’t have the luxury of the internet.
John is remembered as being a trailblazer—one of a cadre of industry legends who mapped out the blueprint for today’s landscape. “I think John is probably one of the last beauty industry characters,” recalled Carlotta Jacobson, President of CEW. “Upon taking over CEW, I was advised to meet John. He had a lot of power and people wanted to be on his good side and fortunately we were. John supported CEW. He was very generous to us and honorable. He helped us grow and we will be forever grateful.”
John founded the March of Dimes Beauty Ball and The American Cancer Society Dreamball (Beauty Cares Dreamball). He coined the name “FIFI” for the Fragrance Foundation Awards and received countless industry honors including those from The City of Hope, The Lighthouse International and the Foragers of America. In 1982, he received the medal of The City of Paris from the late President Jacques Chirac. He was a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, an award that was bestowed upon him by Madame Jean-Pierre Guerlain in 2003.
Bronx-born John graduated from Yale in 1945 after serving in the V-12 Marine Corps program there. He was honorably discharged in 1951 and received the Silver Star.
He is survived by his sons Richard and George, and his daughters Sara Aiken and Bayly Ledes Daviau. Services will be held at St. Matthews Church in Bedford, New York at 11am on Saturday, October 12. There will be memorial services later in the year at the Yale Club in New York and Le Cercle de L’Union Interalliée in Paris, France.