A few months ago I read a fairly interesting article in Harper’s Bazaar about Evelyn Lauder, daughter-in-law to Estee and wife of Leonard Lauder, that shared her beauty and entertaining tips and lavished attention on her homes, fashion choices, and overall fabulous lifestyle. The article only briefly touched on her background, career, and charity work leaving me, who knew nothing about Evelyn Lauder, quite in the dark about her true contributions to the beauty industry and breast cancer research. Since the article included many stunning photos of the 75-year-old (see above for an example) after reading the article my main thought was – “wow, I hope I can look that amazing when I’m 75”. I decided the article was mainly a fluff piece about someone wealthy and privileged and didn’t give much more thought to it. It turns out I was quite wrong on many levels about Evelyn Lauder. First of all, despite her fabulous appearance in the photos in the magazine Lauder was quite ill. About a week and a half ago she passed away from ovarian cancer. And secondly, after her death I learned much more about this woman and have to say that there was much to admire about this beauty industry icon.
Lauder was born in Vienna in 1936, and luckily she and her parents eventually found safe passage to England thus escaping the Nazis. But their haven in England was not without its traumas as well:
Evelyn Hausner was born on Aug. 12, 1936, in Vienna, the only child of Ernest and Mimi Hausner. Her father, a dapper man who lived in Poland and Berlin before marrying the daughter of a Viennese lumber supplier, owned a lingerie shop. In 1938, with Hitler’s annexation of Austria, the family left Vienna, taking a few belongings, including household silver, which Ernest Hausner used to obtain visas to Belgium.
The family eventually reached England, where Evelyn’s mother was immediately sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man. “The separation was very traumatic for me,” Mrs. Lauder said. Her father placed her in a nursery until her mother could be released and he could raise money. In 1940, the family set sail for New York, where her father worked as a diamond cutter during the war.
In 1947, he and his wife bought a dress shop in Manhattan called Lamay. Over time they expanded it to a chain of five shops.
Evelyn Lauder met and married her husband while his mother was building her beauty empire, and it turns out that Lauder held many roles in the company as well:
Evelyn H. Lauder (1936-2011) was the Senior Corporate Vice President and Head of Fragrance Development Worldwide for the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. During her more than 50 years with the Company, she held many positions while contributing her invaluable insights about fashion trends, consumers’ changing needs, and new approaches to the development of innovative skin care, makeup and fragrance products. She also helped name the Clinique brand. As Head of Fragrance Development Worldwide for the Estée Lauder Companies, she led the development of the Company’s most globally successful fragrances, including the best-selling Beautiful and Pleasures.
But it stands to reason that Evelyn Lauder will be remembered most for her role in spearheading breast cancer research. After her own diagnosis in 1989 of breast cancer she become an advocate for research to find a cure for the disease along with providing support for those with the disease. She created the Pink Ribbon Campaign, an instantly recognizable symbol for breast cancer research and support, and founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation which has raised more than $350 million to date for research.
So I would like this post to be a tribute to a great beauty industry icon who overcame adversity to truly make a significant difference in so many women’s lives. Rest in peace Evelyn Lauder – thank you for all your hard work (and sorry I misjudged you).
More tributes to Evelyn Lauder: