the gorilla

Former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld Has a Passion for Fashion

Richard Fuld once berated his deputy Joe Gregory for wearing an “unfashionable green suit,” and fired CFO Erin Callan for what many (us) believe was (among other things) her usage of appalling nude lipstick. But we did not know how deep his passion for fashion ran until we read the excerpt from Vicky Ward’s new book in Vanity Fair this morning. Put a chic bob and some oversize sunglasses on the man, and he’s basically Anna Wintour.

Like Anna, Fuld, who declared it “a dark day for the firm” when Casual Fridays were voted in, was always impeccably turned out.

He always dressed immaculately for work, in a navy-blue suit purchased from Richards department store in Greenwich, Connecticut, along with a white shirt, black lace-ups polished to a high sheen, and an Hermès tie. He had a tailor put special stitching in his suit pants and tops so he could easily see which coat went with which pants.

Anna would know which pants went with which jacket if she was blind, but still. Fuld was also highly judgmental about what other people wore, as well. “Sloppy dress, sloppy thinking” was a motto he frequently invoked. Both his employees and their wives had a hard time packing for the firm’s annual getaways in Sun Valley; one describes the range of outfits they had to pack as “a nightmare.” And woe to the person who showed up at an event underdressed, as Rob Shafir, the co-head of global equities, did once.

In 2004, Shafir arrived at the Mark hotel, on Madison Avenue in New York, for a so-called off-site. He was five minutes late (Fuld was a stickler for punctuality), and as he looked around the room he realized he was the only person dressed business casual (oxford shirt, chinos, and no tie). “What?” he asked as he caught everyone’s horrified stares. “It’s an off-site … ” Fuld looked at him. “Rob: off-site, yes. Out of mind, no.”

Zing. If Fuld’s hedge fund doesn’t pan out, we could see him replacing Clinton on What Not to Wear.

Lehman’s Desperate Housewives [VF]

Former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld Has a Passion for Fashion