Elizabeth Arden marked the 25th anniversary of Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds fragrance this week by introducing a companion scent, White Diamonds Night, and by savoring no small amount of Taylor nostalgia.
At a Chelsea reception Tuesday evening, there was only one subject of conversation: Elizabeth Taylor, the creator of the franchise and the boss of it until her death in 2011.
Eva Longoria, who acted as cohost, recalled, “it was the first bottle of perfume that I saved up my allowance to buy.” Referring to the fact that the bottle was decorated with diamond-like crystals, the actress added, “I wanted diamonds in my room.”
Longoria praised Taylor for triumphing in the three areas where she now strives. “She was a successful actress, a successful businesswoman or entrepreneur and a successful humanitarian.”
“She was the most authentic person you could imagine,” said Scott Beattie, chairman and chief executive officer of Elizabeth Arden. “Elizabeth Taylor was exactly the same in private as in public.”
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He described her as “a true visionary,” whose “keen business sense led her to launch a fragrance empire.”
He noted that White Diamonds and its eight companion fragrances have collectively rung up more than $1.5 billion in total sales during their lifetime. There are 14 fragrances in Taylor’s portfolio. Beattie did not elaborate, but industry sources estimate the whole franchise still generates $100 million a year in retail sales in the 60 countries where the products are distributed.
“She had great passion for fragrance,” said Ron Rolleston, executive vice president of global fragrance marketing. “She carried a business card that said she was president of the Elizabeth Taylor Fragrance Company.” He added that the work meetings were held with Taylor in her Bel-Air home, which she referred her to as her headquarters, as “ceo of the House of Taylor,” added Tamara Steele, senior vice president of global fragrance marketing. “We went to her home and we had meetings with her on a regular basis, where we discussed her business with her,” Rolleston recalled. “She would bring things that inspired her.” [Once] she had a worker bring in a box; the king of Morocco had given her these amazing essential oils. They were pressed flowers…flowers that she liked. We sat there and smelled them with her and she talked about why they would be inspiring. She was heavily involved in her brand every step of the way. It wasn’t something that was left to anyone else to consider. She owned it and she acted that way with us.”
Steele pointed out that Taylor’s vanity at home was always covered with bottles, but they were all her fragrances.
“She wore her fragrances and she wore her diamonds,” Steele said.
Carlos Benaim, master perfumer at International Flavors & Fragrances, was the developer of White Diamonds and the new White Diamonds Night. He recalled how passionate Taylor was over opulent, big white flowers that made for voluptuous scents.
“When someone wears that fragrance, you cannot miss it. It is very sensual and very glamorous,” he said. “It seems to have captured the imagination of people.”
For the new White Diamonds Night fragrance, he used as a key ingredient night-blooming jasmine “as one of the big floral accents of the night. Then I blended it with other things — apricot nectar, citruses, musk, sandalwood, golden balsams and patchouli.
The creation of both scents — separated by 25 years — was derived from the same point in time, those thoughtful meetings in Bel-Air. He stressed that the new fragrance is not a spin-off of the original. “It’s a modern interpretation of my memory of that experience,” Benaim quietly stated.