John Demsey’s Career High

This week, John Demsey celebrated his 30th anniversary at the Estée Lauder Cos., where he has worked on 25 brands. Well-known for both his professional achievements — building MAC from a niche makeup artist brand into a global cosmetics powerhouse, raising more than $500 million as chairman of the MAC VIVA GLAM Fund and helping to bring Tom Ford’s beauty vision to life — and his OOO pursuits (avid photography collector and consummate party host), we decided to dig a little deeper. Here, the executive shares 30 things you might not know.

1. I first met Estée Lauder in 1984 when I was working on the floor of Bloomingdale’s 59th Street and she would come in to meet customers on Sundays.

2. Favorite campaign I worked on more than 30 years at ELC: Tom Ford F–king Fabulous.

3. I’ve attended more than 1,200 fashion shows.

4. Go-to designers: Tom Ford, Anderson Sheppard, Thom Browne, Ermenegildo Zegna, Bottega Veneta, Berluti.

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5. When I was a national sales manager for the Estée Lauder Brand, we had a sales meeting in Florida. The airline lost my luggage and I had to wear Leonard Lauder’s yellow pants.

6. I have a pair of shoes named after me: “The Demsey” from Gaziano & Girling.

7. My grandmother’s first cousin, Uncle Bernie Mitchell from Chicago, created Jovan Musk in the 1970s.

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8. Pre-pandemic lunch: Two PB&Js made with strawberry jelly and creamy peanut butter on whole wheat.

9. During pandemic lunch: Granola and yogurt from Sant Ambroeus via Caviar delivery.

10. One thing I won’t ever eat: any kind of fish.

11. More than 900 photos hang in my town house, including works by Miles Aldridge, David Bailey, Steven Klein and Terry O’Neill.

12. The first photograph I ever purchased was at a flea market in Paris. It was a head shot of Brigitte Bardot as a brunette.

13. First movie: “Wizard of Oz.”

14. First concert: Seals and Croft followed by David Bowie.

15. First paying job: Sorting accounts payable in my father’s office.

16. In Paris I lived in the maid’s room where Andy Warhol ran the factory.

17. Fave childhood shows: “Captain Kangaroo” and “The Brady Bunch.”

18. I wear three scents: Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, Tom Ford Neroli Portofino and Jo Malone London Basil and Neroli.

19. Favorite sweet: Chocolate covered graham crackers from EAT.

20. Color I can’t stand: Pepto pink.

21. Favorite flower: orchid.

22. Pre-COVID-19, I hosted more than a dozen events per year at my town home, catered by Cornelia Guest. Now it’s six people, socially distanced and food from Caviar or Seamless.

23. Style icon: Grace Jones.

24. I obsessively collect watches. I have 50 and have instituted a one-in, one-out policy.

25. I have six dogs, three cats and two birds in residence.

26. Repeat purchase on Amazon: Nature’s Miracle.

27. Ride or die ELC products, Crème de la Mer, Clinique Moisture Surge, Estée Lauder ANR.

28. Favorite comic strips: “Charlie Brown,” “Archie,” “Richie Rich,” “Fantastic Four.”

29. I will never wear Crocs or Birkenstocks.

30. I live by the words of my mentor, Leonard Lauder, who said, “If you can’t see the future you will never get there.”

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