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Last Call With Evelyn Lauder

Since creating the Breast Cancer Research Foundation 15 years ago, Evelyn Lauder has helped raise more than $215 million in the fight to find a cure.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 12/12/2008

Talk about the spirit of giving: Since creating the Breast Cancer Research Foundation 15 years ago, Evelyn Lauder has helped raise more than $215 million in the fight to find a cure. Along the way, she’s been instrumental in shaping the direction of the Estée Lauder Cos. and collaborated on some of the most successful scents in modern history, developed a thriving career in photography and cocreated the pink ribbon, to name just a few. So, if anyone understands how to multitask during the frenetic holiday season, it’s the indefatigable Mrs. Lauder. Here, she reveals why she’d rather give than receive, how she gets away from it all without going anywhere and the thrill of seeing the world through rose-colored lights.



HOW DO YOU DEFINE BEAUTY?
Beauty is really the person’s soul. They don’t have to have perfect features, but the personality, the sparkle in the eyes, the goodness in their soul is what makes a person beautiful.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO NURTURE YOUR MIND, BODY AND SOUL ON A DAILY BASIS?
I exercise and find that I get very relaxed when I shower. I also do biofeedback late in the day when I start to fade. It’s very energizing. There’s a standard technique I learned: You lift your right arm and support it on a pillow. At the same time, you roll your eyes to the back of your head and take a very deep breath and exhale slowly. You close out the rest of the world and visualize a favorite place. It should always be the same place, so you have to think carefully about where you want to go. It’s ideal if you can lift your legs, too. No more than 20 minutes later, you’ve gone into an almost hypnotic spell and have this sense of euphoria in your abdomen. It’s a very energizing rest. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

WHERE DO YOU GO?
I can’t tell you. The place you go to is your own. You never reveal it. My husband doesn’t even know!

HOW DO YOU CHANNEL YOUR CREATIVITY?
My joy in the creative process is in two areas. I’ve always loved working on new products. When I first came to the company, I did all the colors. Now I spend more time on fragrance development and I get a huge charge out of it. In my personal life, my photography is a matter of seeing something, an everyday matter like trees or a sunrise, and capturing it and the magic of the light and being able to get poetry.

YOUR OLFACTIVE SKILLS ARE LEGENDARY. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SMELL?

I love the way my husband’s skin smells.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
When I’m photographing, what inspires me is the light. I don’t use artificial light. I use daylight, natural light. The autumn leaves are so amazing these days and it’s so stunning to photograph some of the leaves on the trees with a blue sky behind it. It’s opening your eyes. Being aware. That’s part of the creative process.

WHAT DRIVES YOU?
I always believe that energy breeds more energy, and staying connected and getting involved is important. Talk about the spirit of giving: Since creating the Breast Cancer Research Foundation 15 years ago, Evelyn Lauder has helped raise more than $215 million in the fight to find a cure. Along the way, she’s been instrumental in shaping the direction of the Estée Lauder Cos. and collaborated on some of the most successful scents in modern history, developed a thriving career in photography and cocreated the pink ribbon, to name just a few. So, if anyone understands how to multitask during the frenetic holiday season, it’s the indefatigable Mrs. Lauder. Here, she reveals why she’d rather give than receive, how she gets away from it all without going anywhere and the thrill of seeing the world through rose-colored lights.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE SEEING THE WORLD’S MAJOR MONUMENTS RENDERED PINK?
We’ve illuminated over 200 landmarks in 600 countries. This year was extraordinary because we did the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai [India]. I have a friend in Chicago who has a five year old child. When the John Hancock Building was lit, she saw the pink light and said, “Mommy, look! Breast cancer awareness!” It’s reached out. It’s working.

WHICH OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
One of them certainly is my career. My children. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the concept that I created with the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering to have coordinated services for one disease, which never had been done before. Only a lazy person like me can think of ways to be more efficient! Who wants to go to a separate place for the drugstore, for a physical therapist, for a prosthesis? When women are taking treatment, they’re tired and want to save their energy. Our concept was to have all of these services under one roof and that’s something that I’m very proud of.

DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO?
My personal motto is, whatever you are when you’re younger, you’re more so when you’re older.

WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU?
The sense of gratification that one gets from what one does. You have to like what you’re doing in life. In these economic times, it also means having been prudent during the good times.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE GIFT TO GIVE?
I love giving and do give our newest and prettiest compacts.

AND TO RECEIVE?
For me the best gift is not to give me anything. I don’t want to have to write a thank-you note! Just friendship and being there.

NEXT: Editor’s Letter: A Delicate Balance >>

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