During a lunch at the Four Seasons’ famed Pool Room on Tuesday, Leonard Lauder, chairman of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., toasted what he called two icons of his company: the newest version of the company’s venerable Advanced Night Repair skin care, and the man behind its creation, longtime employee Daniel Maes.

This story first appeared in the March 27, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Maes, senior vice president of research and development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos., will retire from the company July 1 after a 22-year tenure.

“Dr. Maes has worked on more than 100 products and 24 patents during his time at the company,” said Lauder, adding, “we are here to celebrate Dr. Maes for his genius and his devotion to the company.” His technologies are found in many of the brand’s best-selling products, including Advanced Night Repair, Idealist, Perfectionist CP+, Resilience Lift Extreme and Re-Nutriv Ultimate and Intensive. His areas of expertise include DNA repair, glycation, collagen synthesis and skin barrier function.

“I’m very grateful that the Estée Lauder Cos. have given me freedom of research — that is what research is all about,” said Maes. “It’s not just about commercial applications. And that is when you come up with the best new ideas — it’s a gut feeling, not copying a competitor.”

Maes, 65, was born in Belgium and raised in France, holds a master of science degree in nuclear chemistry from the University of Paris, and earned his Ph.D in nuclear chemistry from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. His first order of business after his retirement will be to sail his 50-foot boat, The Princess of Tides, to Saint Maartin to leisurely explore all the islands in the area with his wife, he said. “I will have to learn to live slowly,” he said. “That will be quite an exercise at the beginning.” Eventually, Maes hopes to sail his boat from the U.S. to the Mediterranean Sea, a three-week journey, he said. He and his wife plan to spend the winters in a town near Cannes, France, and the summers in Long Island, where they currently reside. “Five minutes near the water always resets my clock,” said Maes.