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The beauty industry lost one of its brightest stars in November. WWD Beauty Inc asked those closest to Mrs. Lauder to share their most enduring memories of her.
This story first appeared in the September 9, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I have two. First, that love grows and grows and grows. Yes, it is eternal, but it is an eternal expansion. Each year, I couldn’t believe how my love for this wonderful woman, which was so great, could continue to expand. The other is her style. Evelyn’s style was not a studied one, but a very unique one. She had great taste and great insight, not only into what is today’s message, but in tomorrow’s styles, whatever they may be: fashion, fragrance, color, everything. She understood the concept of style and women.”
— LEONARD A. LAUDER
“First and foremost, she was passionate and committed in everything she did, and she taught me that when you are passionate and committed you enjoy everything so much more. My mother certainly was very passionate about what she did, and totally committed, whether it was her work or the Breast Cancer Research Foundation or her family, and it rubbed off on me, on my brother and on my children.”
— WILLIAM P. LAUDER
“One of my fondest memories is spending time with my aunt, Evelyn Lauder, in Palm Beach. Evelyn and Leonard’s house was previously Estée’s, and I always loved seeing the new touches Evelyn added. She was very relaxed and happy in that house, surrounded by friends and family, with fresh cut flowers from the garden and delicious food. Evelyn was an incredible woman with a great love of life.
We will all miss her very much.”
— AERIN LAUDER
“My most enduring memory of Evelyn is not just her passion for the cosmetics business and women’s health but truly her passion for her family. This past summer, one of the last times that I spent with Evelyn, she came to the Origins office to attend Josh Lauder’s intern presentation. Josh is Gary’s son and Evelyn’s grandson. He interned for a couple of weeks at Origins and we had him work on a project researching social media and how it impacts our brand, because who better to teach a bunch of executives about social media than a teenager! Evelyn found out that we were having Josh present to the Origins team over a pizza lunch and asked if she could join us. Not withstanding the fact that Josh’s presentation was truly impressive, Evelyn’s obvious pride and joy was felt by all. I know that all of her grandchildren have felt this love and passion and I’m sure that this will be one of her greatest legacies.”
— JANE LAUDER
“We have a house in Duchess County and Evelyn and Leonard are in Putnam County, and they kept asking if my younger son, Jamie, and I would spend a Sunday afternoon with them. One weekend we spent an afternoon at the cabin in the woods, as they call it. We walked around the pond, and Evelyn described to Jamie every pebble, every leaf, every flower, every tree. She then asked him if he’d like to go in the boat, and she and Jamie went in the canoe. My parents passed away before Jamie was born, and I saw my mother and Evelyn in the same vista. It was a very poignant moment, and the way she was with Jamie was as if he were one of her grandchildren.”
“My other memory is from less than two weeks before she passed away. I called the house on a Sunday, the day after a snowstorm. She got on the phone with a very strong voice, and said, ‘Can you believe that I was an idiot and went in the car to William’s house!’ She used a very salty word, for her, and I hollered with laughter. I had a bittersweet moment of howling with laughter on the one hand and sensing that it was the last time I would speak with her and feeling blessed to have her personal friendship.”
— MICHAEL GOULD, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, BLOOMINGDALE’S
“My most enduring memories of Evelyn Lauder are the joyeux company occasions over the course of the past years where she took the time to remember every person’s name and managed to make them feel an extended member of the Lauder family. Her warmth, wit and generosity of spirit made her a guiding light in our industry.”
— JOHN DEMSEY, GROUP PRESIDENT, THE ESTÉE LAUDER COS. INC.
“She was not just a philanthropist — she was a guiding spirit.”
— DR. LARRY NORTON, DEPUTY PHYSICIAN IN CHIEF, SLOAN KETTERING CANCER CENTER
“From the first time I met Mrs. Lauder in 1991, when my mom was one of the first women she helped fight breast cancer, to last year when I was lucky enough to have her amazing support as I battled a different cancer, her love, compassion, warmth and support have never changed. Her generosity, wisdom and friendship are gifts I will always cherish.”
— BARBARA ZINN MOORE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MERCHANDISE MANAGER, LORD & TAYLOR
“Evelyn Lauder was absolutely the best hostess I ever knew. She was also the best nose. She could always tell what fragrance you were wearing, and she got it right about 95 percent of the time. I wore Chemistry by Clinique a lot, and if I didn’t have it on, she knew. She had a great nose.”
— BILL DILLARD, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, DILLARD’S
“It was one of the infamous ‘van trips’ in LA when I was a Regional for Aramis. Leonard was notoriously tough with us when we would visit stores, critiquing everything from space and location to merchandising of the cases. All of the execs would be on the van and we would all pray that Evelyn would come with him. One trip was really tough for Clinique, as they had clearly chosen the wrong location in a new door and Leonard was hammering them. Evelyn said, ‘Come on Leonard. They get your point. Let’s stop for milk and cookies.’ So off we went to Mrs. Fields, and that was the end of that!”
— PAMELA BAXTER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LVMH PERFUMES AND COSMETICS
“My most enduring memory of Mrs. Evelyn Lauder is her incredible passion, warmth and love of life, and her ability to affect each person she encountered in a positive manner. Her generosity of heart was evident from the first moment I met her, and I will be forever grateful for her graciousness when I joined the company in 2008 and how she welcomed my family into the company and the Lauder family with open arms.”
— FABRIZIO FREDA, CEO, THE ESTÉE LAUDER COS. INC.
“I’ve known Evelyn Lauder for over 30 years. What stands out the most to me about her is how she treated people. Each and every person she knew was equally special. She wasn’t impressed by one’s fame or fortune. Last year, I was Evelyn’s date at the Glamour Magazine Women Of The Year awards. We were surrounded by some of the most important people in our industry — and the world, yet as her date, she made it a point to introduce me as if I were just as important as they were. Because in her eyes, I was.”
— CARLOTTA JACOBSON, PRESIDENT, COSMETIC EXECUTIVE WOMEN
“Without Evelyn Lauder, Beautiful would never have been introduced in 1985. At that time, we didn’t do consumer research before launching a fragrance. Mrs. Estée Lauder and Evelyn Lauder made the final decision, often gathering input from their friends, people in the office and sometimes colleagues from our international affiliates. During a meeting in Europe, the Beautiful fragrance was shown, and the reaction was less than positive. Evelyn listened to everyone’s comments and then said, ‘I know this is the right fragrance, and this is the fragrance we are going to launch.’ The enduring success of Beautiful proved her right. This was vintage Evelyn in her creative vision, her courage in listening to her instinct, and her innate connection with our consumer.”
— KARYN KHOURY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CORPORATE FRAGRANCE DEVELOPMENT, THE ESTÉE LAUDER COS. INC.
“Evelyn changed many women’s lives, but she personally impacted my future and opened up for me a world of profound love and happiness, by introducing me to my dear husband, Cliff Hudis. She helped to nurture our budding relationship — she was an amazing gardener after all — encouraging us for two years until our joyous wedding day. She truly took as much pleasure in making others happy and in the personal side of life as she did in business. She was the embodiment of the family values, the caring and respect, that are the hall- mark of our company. I have lost a best friend, a confidant of 26 years and my mentor, and am profoundly sad, but also extremely grateful for the gifts of life she gave me.”
— JANE HERTZMARK HUDIS, GLOBAL BRAND PRESIDENT, ESTÉE LAUDER
“Evelyn was one of the most passionate, committed individuals I have ever known. She has made an immeasurable impact through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. But what I remember most is her personal touch, whether it be a note or a call. She was so appreciative and caring, with great attention to detail. When Saks became involved with BCRF, I was amazed not only at the doors she could open but her willingness to go the extra mile. In fact, that persistence led Saks to increase its support. There really was no barrier she couldn’t bring down. We will all miss her terribly.”
— STEPHEN I. SADOVE, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, SAKS INC.