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Dream Ball, FIT Kick Off Beauty’s Social Season

Leonard A. Lauder and Esi Eggleston Bracey were the honorees of the 2021 DreamBall, which raised almost $1 million for Look Good Feel Better.

September has always been a busy month in the beauty social calendar, and after the coronavirus-induced hiatus, things are starting to pick up again.

FIT held an in-person cocktail party for advisory board members of the master’s and bachelor’s degree programs in cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management. Attendees included Robin Burns, Wendy Liebmann, Linda Levy, David Greenberg, Jean Zimmerman, Nicolas Mirzayantz, Dionisio Ferenc and Jerry Vittoria. No wonder fragrance was heavily represented: FIT’s Virginia Bonofiglio and Stephan Kanlian will be the honorees at the 2021 Fragrance Foundation Circle of Champions awards to be held in November. That award is only fitting, said Dr. Joyce Brown, president of the FIT, noting that Leonard A. Lauder was the first recipient of the award in 2000.

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As for the connection? During the pandemic, Lauder reached out to Brown to help provide funds for students unable to participate in the programs due to financial constraints. “We are currently finalizing an agreement with the Lauder family to establish a $1 million endowed scholarship in Leonard’s name for our undergraduate cosmetics and fragrance marketing program,” Brown announced.

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Robin Burns and Joyce Brown

With students back on campus for in-person learning, FIT has also created a new Social Justice Center, and has raised $2 million thus far to develop programming and provide scholarship support. The goal is to create a pathway for BIPOC students seeking careers in the creative industries starting in middle school, and “to transform the cultures of creative industries so that current and future BIPOC employees can advance and thrive,” Brown said, who also announced that the Estée Lauder Cos. was increasing its commitment to equity by doubling its sponsorship of diverse talent from two to four students.

In all, it was a busy week for Lauder. He was also honored with the inaugural Legacy Award at the BeautyCares Dream Ball, which also honored Esi Eggleston-Bracey, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Unilever North America with the passionate leader award. Although the event was held virtually, Lauder’s devotion for the cause crackled through the screen. “We had several friends who were surgeons, and they said when a woman had surgery and she didn’t know if she was going to live — if she woke up and asked for a lipstick, they knew she was going to live. From that time on, we knew if a woman had an issue, if she looked better, she felt better. And if she felt better, she lived,” he said.

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Leonard and Judy Lauder with Dream Ball host Nina West.

Bracey, too, doubled down on the purpose of beauty in consumer’s lives. “I believe deeply that what we do matters,” she said. “It matters for the wellbeing of people, for communities and for the planet that we live on. It’s for people who haven’t always had a voice, and there are many who have it. I’m inspired by the definition of beauty that is beauty is the illumination of our soul. When you feel beautiful, you feel seen, you feel confident, you feel empowered.”

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Esi Eggleston-Bracey was honored at the 2021 Dream Ball.

In all, the event raised more than $900,000 for Look Good Feel Better.