Gerhard Weber in the showroom of a Gerry Weber shop in Düsseldorf in 2014
Photo: Sven Simon / imago images
Nobody called him "Gerry".
Friends said "Gerd".
But the English version of his name simply did better, thought Gerhard Weber when he invented the fashion brand named after him in 1986.
Gerry Weber didn't sound like the company headquarters in Halle, Westphalia, or German medium-sized companies.
But according to the international fashion circus.
And Weber liked to act as if he were the director of this ring.
Jagged, wiry, prancing steps.
A birthmark on his left cheek that gave him a resemblance to Robert De Niro, at least in part.
And of course he was always well dressed, rarely without a pocket square.
On the other hand, there was something homemade about the fashion that his company stood for.
Or, to put it positively: Weber knew what women over fifty were and what they like to see themselves in.
He would never have scared her with an outfit that seemed too youthful to them.
He started with women's trousers, and Weber soon expanded his range.
He ended an excursion into the world of men's fashion after a few years.
The company remained his baby until the end
His PR talent was no less pronounced than his flair for fabrics.
Weber knew how to draw attention to himself.
For example, by making the 17-year-old tennis player Steffi Graf the face of Gerry Weber for half a million marks.
You could already hear on the phone how great Weber's self-confidence was.
When he answered it sounded like a trumpet: "Webaaaa!"
For a long time nothing went in his company without him, and that was quite deliberate on the one hand.
On the other hand, his talent for delegation was not particularly pronounced.
It has happened that he instructed an employee in passing to make the flowers larger on a fabric sample.
With his way of seeing the company as a one-man show, he had fallen out of time, but had long been successful.
For a long time it was part of many German pedestrian zones: a branch of Gerry Weber
Photo: Waldmüller / imago images
At some point, however, his instincts lost him and the company went downhill.
Expansion had become more important than innovation, that was a problem.
Another: Weber was always good at tackling something;
Not doing something, or not doing anything anymore, was not part of his life plan.
Accordingly, it was difficult for him to let go, like many patriarchs.
He did not give up management of the company until 2015, when the star was already declining.
Eventually Gerry Weber went bankrupt.
It was February 2019 when Weber took a spin through his Westphalian homeland with SPIEGEL.
The reporter in the back seat, Weber as a passenger, who ordered his chauffeur Hansi, also an old friend of his, around: "Right, Hansi!", "Drive left, man!", "Hansi, where are you going?".
The journey first led from the airport to Versmold, where Weber opened his first fashion store at the age of 23.
Then he showed his house, his hotel, the Gerry Weber Stadium.
Gerhard "Gerry" Weber looked like an old king traveling through his empire for the last time.
Proud but surrounded by a touch of sadness.
He still used the doer's gesture even when he was no longer in power.
And no more shares in Gerry Weber.
In the spring of last year it was announced that two British investors will take over the company he founded in full.
A phone call to him.
He looked reserved, at least by his standards.
Weber confessed how much he quarreled with it.
But then he got the old vigor again: if he could help the new men, for example with the collections, he would be happy to do it.
He didn't want any money for it, the company was still his baby.
Weber died on Thursday night at the age of 79 in Münster.
Icon: The mirror