Starting as a number cruncher without connections, and long before LinkedIn, my career blossomed, and I became comfortable traveling the globe and moving through the worlds of business, fashion, entertainment, politics, and international crime. It was a thrilling journey filled with triumphant highs, heartbreaking lows, and unforgettable experiences and friendships.

During the years with Charles of The Ritz Group, Ltd., then a subsidiary of Squibb Corporation before its merger with Bristol Myers, I developed personal working relationships with fashion designers, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, and Giorgio Sant’Angelo, Hollywood legends, Linda Evans and John Forsyth, and crossed paths with politicians, union leaders and giants of business and industry.

Together with employees in our offices, factories, and distribution centers around the world, we came to produce many exciting and successful products such as OPIUM, which for several years was the world’s largest-selling fragrance, and is now approaching its 50th anniversary. As president and CEO of the company, I made a concerted effort to save it from being destroyed.

After many years of deliberation, I decided to write this memoir, which highlights the creation and development of OPIUM as well as our other brands and businesses, reveals some secrets, and paints a picture of one of the most exciting events in the history of the fashion and beauty industries. As I progressed up the corporate ladder from vice president finance to president and CEO and member of the Squibb Board of Directors, I had a front row seat where I could observe the shimmering world of glamour, the profit driven world of business, and all that goes on behind the scenes to keep those worlds in motion.

But more than anything, this is a story about people—power, ego, the principled and unprincipled. It has the drama and pathos of a novel, all the more poignant because it is true.

Opium et Moi
Behind the Label, Yves Saint Laurent

Every perfume is a unique work of art, no different than a piece of music or a painting in its ability to evoke feelings in its audience. In 1976, Yves Saint Laurent fell in love with the idea of creating a new perfume that would convey the lush, sensual mood of the name he had already chosen, OPIUM.

Working with Yves, his personal and business partner Pierre, and so many others in the world of high fashion and fragrance could be exhilarating, infuriating, and often, a simmering pot-au-feu threatening to boil over. This narrative takes you behind the scenes, providing a glimpse of that fascinating world and the people who kept it spinning.