NEW YORK — What should have been called “Leonard Lauder Week” came to a close on Friday afternoon in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom, packed with a capacity crowd of 1,200 that stretched to the balconies. Starting on Tuesday with a private dinner to celebrate his gift of Cubist art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. was honored at the close of the week by Cosmetic Executive Women, which awarded him the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award to be conferred upon a male executive. His mother, Estée, received the first CEW Lifetime Achievement Award, in 1989.
Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW, called Lauder “a great advocate of women in the beauty community.”
“Many of you have worked for [Estée Lauder Cos.], many of you haven’t, but very few of you have worked for your mother,” Lauder said. The event drew many former protégés, including Pamela Baxter, president and chief executive officer of LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics and Christian Dior; Claudia Poccia, president and ceo of Gurwitch Products; and Lynne Greene, group president of Clinique, Origins, Ojon, Aveda, Darphin and the newly formed men’s skin-care unit.
In explaining what it was like to work for his mother, Lauder recalled how, in her office, she would introduce him to a group of people as her son, the president of the company. Then, Estée would turn to him and say, “Comb your hair.”
Lauder was introduced by Marigay McKee, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, who began her career in beauty working retail for Estée Lauder. “Many of us, especially in the beauty industry, at challenging times, have found ourselves asking the question, ‘What would Leonard do?’ ” she said. “It is such a simple question, yet it has an incredibly deep and great meaning, as we know Leonard is a fountain of knowledge, thoughtfulness and dynamic productivity.”
McKee also spoke of Lauder’s devotion to his family and philanthropy. She referred to his gift to the Met and the private dinner held there to mark the contribution. In his speech that night, McKee recalled, Lauder said that “in art, there [are] three O’s: ‘oh,’ ‘oh, my’ and ‘oh, my God.’ And Leonard loves the oh-my-Gods in everything he does.”
Four female beauty executives were presented with Achiever Awards: Laura Geller, founder of Laura Geller Beauty; Alli Webb, founder of Drybar; Jane Wurwand, founder and “chief visionary” of Dermalogica, the International Dermal Institute and FITE; and Wende Zomnir, chief creative officer and founding partner of Urban Decay Cosmetics. As well, Sissel Tolaas, founder of RE_searchLab, was given CEW’s Great Idea Award for Fragrance Innovation, presented by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.