FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: A TRIBUTE TO LEE LEONARD
In early January, the menswear industry was deeply saddened by the sudden passing of men’s fashion veteran Lee Leonard, who died of a heart attack on December 31st at his apartment in New York City. Lee was an actor, a tour guide, a lover of all things Italian, and a caring friend to so many. Here are a few tributes to the soft-spoken gentleman with a big laugh, and an even bigger heart.
“LEONARDO, YOU WILL BE MISSED BY SO MANY. WHEREVER YOU WALKED, THE SIDEWALKS SMILED.”
—ANDY MALLOR, ANDREW DAVIS
“Lee was a great business partner and a dear friend with a big heart! He was part of our weekend crew in Long Beach and everyone loved him. Our weekends were full of fun, beach, poker, backgammon, chess, and of course lots of cocktails. Lee’s outgoing personality and kind gentle soul coupled with his acting abilities made him a real hit with the ladies. Most importantly, he loved our industry, the people, relationships and was always on the hunt for the next big brand. I will most miss his jovial laugh and his genuine friendship.”
—VINCE GONZALES, VINCE GONZALES INC.
“It must be at least 30 years since I met Lee and the DLS team, but it was just this past June that I really got to know Lee and he told me about his heart condition. It was he who insisted that I go to Florence, which was the best trip to Italy I’ve ever taken because of Lee’s passion for the city. Because Lee loved what he was doing, we fell in love with Lee.”
—LARRY AND ARLEEN ALBERT, MAINLINE CUSTOM
“It really hurts to talk about Lee in the past tense. He was always so positive and encouraging. One story: we were with a group of retail- ers in Naples, Italy. After dinner, there was music in the hotel bar. While David dozed off on a comfortable chair, drowsy from jet lag and wine, Lee (always the ladies’ man) danced the night away with Ellen. Lee never let David forget how much Ellen enjoyed dancing with him!”
— DAVID AND ELLEN LEVY, LEVY’S NASHVILLE
“LEE, YOU HAVE LEFT A BIG HOLE IN MANY HEARTS. I WILL FOREVER CHERISH YOUR GUIDANCE, KINDNESS AND SUPPORT, YOUR BOISTEROUS LAUGHTER AND PASSION FOR OUR INDUSTRY.”
—RUTH GRAVES, STEP USA
“It was the summer of 2010. After a long day navigating Pitti, Lee brought a group of DLS stores to my office in Piazza Ognissanti. My office was on the third floor overlooking the river, with an elevator that was only 2.2 by 5 feet. Opening the elevator door, I was flooded with Lee’s large laugh and the image of a very hot and tired guy, stuck in that tiny space and on crutches, obviously in pain after his recent knee surgery gone wrong. Still in good spirits and laughing at his predicament, his only goal was to get his team some cocktails.”
—SHAYNE REGAN, BORGO28 INC.
“Lee started as a client but became a dear friend. For the past 20 years, the highlight of my year was putting together the DLS fashion book. The care and professionalism your team brought to the project reflected your respect for each client, and your desire for the success of each store. Lee, I will miss our conversations, from the weather to global peace. I will miss the advice you always provided, reflecting your caring heart. I know that one day we’ll continue our work for all the stores in the sky.”
—BOB DONA, OPTIMUM GRAPHICS
“Lee was the cheerleader, the one who got us all going at early morning meetings, the one who had the uncanny ability to mix calm with excitement. He could be persistent, persuasive, and a nudge all at the same time and never get you upset. Our industry will be a little less rich without him; may his memory always be for a blessing.”
—DANA KATZ, MILTONS
“How do we sum up the partnership, friendship and love we had with Lee for more than 50 years? Lee and Fred go back to a time before DLS when they worked together in DC; I came to know Lee when Fred asked him to join our office two years into the business. Lee became a dear friend: lively, thoughtful, an anchor. An extremely private person himself, he was always there for us through both bright and dark moments and will remain a part of us for all time.”
—VIRGINIA SANDQUIST, FRED DERRING, DLS
“Lee and I shared a bond, and I’m fortunate to say he was my friend in every way. He was a voice of reason when my enthusiasm about a project consumed me. He helped me see the bigger picture. We shared many trips to Italy, meals, and laughs. My biggest regret is that I was unable to take him to Istanbul, a city he really wanted to explore and photograph. I have lost a friend and mentor; we all have lost a sweet, gentle soul.”
—MICHAEL DURU, MICHAEL DURU CLOTHIERS
“I was fortunate to share many Italy trips with Lee. From unique product ideas to industry insight and inspiration, Lee was a wealth of knowledge. As each Italian evening ended with limoncello or grappa, I say ‘Salute and ciao my friend. May we meet at a menswear show on the other side!’”
—MIKE ZACK, DALLAS RETAILER
2 Replies to “FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: A TRIBUTE TO LEE LEONARD”
John Ripps and I decided to 1st attend the NY Markets about 8 years ago. We reached out to DLS to help guide us thru the shopping process. Lee met with John and I at the Warwick for Breakfast. His guidance was remarkable and helped two lost Texans find their way. Thank you Lee, RIP
A great tribute to a great friend.
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