Hair, cosmetics and fragrance have long played a major role in the whole fashion picture. Here are some of the creators and executives who’ve made their marks on the industry and populated WWD’s pages through the years.
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Francois Coty: He turned the art of perfumery into a broad based business shortly after the dawn of the 20th Century. With Rene Lalique creating the packaging, Coty was able to create prestigious perfumes at prices within the reach of the rapidly expanding middle class.
Eugene Schueller: In 1910, the year WWD came into being, Eugene Schueller opened a warehouse in Turin, Italy, giving a foreign springboard to his fledgling hair dye enterprise that later became L’Oréal, the most powerful beauty company in the world. By creating the first synthetic dye, Schueller also paved the way for the development of an estimated $40 billion global hair coloring industry.
Max Factor: A Polish immigrant, he found his way to Hollywood and became the makeup artist to the stars in the new film industry. In 1914, he perfected the first face cream, called “flexible greasepaint,” which was thin enough to stand the scrutiny of the movie cameras. Factor began marketing a range of cosmetics to the public in the Twenties, setting the stage the rise of his company and the establishment of his legacy as the godfather of makeup artistry, one of the most dynamic segments of today’s industry.
Elizabeth Arden: She and her bitter, lifelong rival, Helena Rubinstein, battled their way through the early part of the 20th century and between them defined beauty in North America. Arden entered the beauty world through the salon business in 1908 and later pioneered the exercise spa with Maine Chance. She made makeup and other beauty products socially acceptable with her elegant packaging and WASPy, society-driven marketing.
Helena Rubinstein: She pioneered the skin care business in the U.S. with what some consider the first, commercial treatment cream, Valaze, and much later scored a lasting hit in the fragrance market in 1941 with Heaven Scent. While Arden was associated with society, Rubinstein gravitated toward avant-garde artist like Salvador Dali and celebritities. Her New York salon was loaded with contemporary art.
Charles Revson: In 1932, the founder of Revlon appeared on the scene—to the intense displeasure of the two reigning beauty queens. Revson not only tied together lip color and nail shades but he turned cosmetics into fashion, with his seasonal product stories driven by sensual marketing messages like Cherries in the Snow and Fire and Ice. Considered beauty’s first marketing master, Revson caught the rising youth movement in the Fifties and Sixties and captured the scent of women’s liberation with his trend-setting fragrance, Charlie. Revson also reached a high point of fame and notoriety as sponsor of the $64,000 Question TV quiz show that subsequently exploded in scandal.
Estée Lauder: As the fourth of the founding entrepreneurs who opened her business in 1946, Lauder made fertile use of ground already broken by taking the game to another level. She revolutionized the American fragrance scene in 1953 with Youth Dew, which allowed women to start buying perfume for themselves and in the process, won respect for American-made scents. But for all her abilities, perhaps the one that stood the tallest was Lauder’s innate understanding of what her consumer wanted and how to give it to her. She was the queen of retail.
Leonard A. Lauder: Having helped establish the fledgling business founded by his mother and father, Joseph, Leonard Lauder was an early visionary who grasped the power of globalization. He took the small family company and built it into the prestige market leader of the global beauty industry, with sales totalling $7.8 billion at the end of the last fiscal year. Now chairman emeritus of the company, he was the foremost architect of the modern beauty business and how it is conducted in department and specialty stores and other select market outlets.
Lindsay Owen-Jones: From 1984 to 2006, Owen-Jones took the company founded by Schueller and greatly broadened by Francois Dalle and gave L’ Oréal the wings needed to take off as the industry’s sales leader. He transformed L’Oréal from a traditional French exporter to a truly multicultural, multinational and multichannel beauty behemoth fueled by the interplay between mass market and prestige brands and salon professional products.
A.G. Lafley: When he announced his retirement from the $79 billion Procter & Gamble in December 2009, Lafley was praised as a visionary by Wall Street. One analyst said,”A.G. walked on water.” He not only put the entire company on a solid growth footing and expanded its portfolio of billion dollar brands from 10 to 22, but more importantly he was the architect of P&G’s meteoric rise in the beauty business — from obscurity in the late Eighties to a perch challenging L’Oreal for the industry leadership, all in a generation. By, in effect, creating a beauty company inside a consumer products giant, he shifted the focus from need marketing to want marketing.
Jacques Courtin-Clarins: A pioneer in skin care products with natural ingredients, he opened his first beauty institute in Paris in 1954, which later grew into Groupe Clarins, now more than a 1 billion euro global company. He not only blazed a trail for the use of plants and other organic ingredients, but Courtin-Clarins he also made customer satisfaction a top priority. he listened so closely to the consumer That Clarins was one of the first company’s to include a questionnaire on product packaging.
Yoshiharu Fukuhara: He took the Tokyo-based company his grandfather founded in 1872 and turned Shiseido Co. Ltd. into a respected global player by becoming the first president of its U.S. subsidiary in 1965, orchestrating a global expansion plan in the Eighties and successfully entering Europe. Fukuhara coupled Shiseido’s lofty reputation for the quality of its R&D and product development, particularly in skin care, with a new highly artistic look by recruiting image creator Serge Lutens.
Dominique Mandonnaud: He was the great emancipator of beauty retailing as an early champion of assisted self-service in his Sephora perfumery chain. Mandonnaud liberated products from behind glass, put them on testers so customers could play, provided video screens for education and entertainment and even installed free internet access for customer to send e-mails. All of a sudden, it was permissible for women to go into a perfumery in Europe or a department store in the U.S. and simply browse, without having to tangle with the formidable madame behind the counter.
Jean-Paul Guerlain: As the great-great grandson of the founder of Guerlain, the most storied house in the annals of haute parfumerie, he modernized and contemporized the mystique and mystery of the producer of the 1925 landmark scent, Shalimar, into the 21st Century. As the master perfumer of Guerlain, he not only was “the keeper of the temple”—in the words of owner Bernard Arnault—but also created over 60 fragrances, including directional scents like Nahema that announced the Eighties and the Samsara that heralded the Nineties.