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Since the Company’s founding in the 1940s, we have been influencing the world of prestige beauty. We invite you to explore key moments in our illustrious story.
Estée and Joseph Lauder found Estée Lauder Cosmetics. The couple divides responsibilities, playing to their strengths: Estée leads creativity, product development, and sales, while Joseph manages finance and operations.
Introducing four original products
Estée develops her own beauty line starting with four products including an all-purpose skin cream which she sells in Manhattan beauty salons, giving free demonstrations and makeovers.
First department store order
Determined to have her products available in only the most elegant stores, Estée convinces the cosmetics buyer from Saks Fifth Avenue to place an order – equivalent to $10,000 today.
The prestigious Stork Club is a favorite spot where Estée graciously hosts business associates and colleagues.
Estée’s personal touch
Estée loves working directly with a customer – answering her questions and watching her face light up at the difference a new color or product can make in her appearance – and her attitude.
Gift With Purchase
Estée revolutionizes how cosmetics are introduced with her now-famous “Gift with Purchase”.
Come in to meet
She wisely offers customers a free sample with every purchase and is often at the counter to personally hand them out.
Long before subscription boxes are a trend, Estée offers a “personally selected” product in her “Beauty by the Month” Club. This brilliant marketing tactic brings customers back to the stores.
Decades before social media becomes mainstream, Estée knows the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
“Telephone, Telegraph, Tell A Woman.”
The Company’s first important product is Estoderme Youth-Dew Cream, with an egg in every jar. It steals the heart of the Harper’s Bazaar's editor-in-chief which seals its success.
More ways to look youthful
Estée expands the Estoderme line to include Youth-Dew creams, lotions and powders – precursors to the now legendary Youth-Dew bath oil.
Daring ad for a sweet scent
Determined to empower women to purchase their own perfumes instead of only receiving them as gifts, Estée introduces Youth-Dew as a bath oil that doubles as perfume.
An enduring product
Youth-Dew becomes a sensation and the fledgling start-up cosmetics company begins its transformation to a multi-million dollar business, which now includes fragrance.
Re-Nutriv initiates luxury skincare category
Re-Nutriv combines 25 of the world’s most precious ingredients with science’s most extraordinary advances of the time.
An artist’s interpretation
A Harper's Bazaar promotion about Re-Nutriv is illustrated for the magazine by a young Andy Warhol, soon-to-be a 60s pop culture artist.
"A goldmine of beauty"
Estée believes her customers want to indulge themselves in the very best…at any price. Re-Nutriv advertising proudly lists the unprecedented price of $115 a jar!
Leonard A. Lauder joins Company
After growing up in the family business, Leonard Lauder graduates from Wharton and the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School. Following service at sea as a naval officer – he officially joins the Company.
New home for the family business
With a small staff, the Company moves into larger, more elegant offices at 666 Fifth Avenue. Joseph Lauder is on the left with son Leonard standing to his right.
Leonard Lauder marries a beautiful young teacher named Evelyn Hausner who enthusiastically joins the family business. Estée considers her “an extraordinary asset in uncountable ways.”
The 1960s mark a crucial period of growth with the construction of three manufacturing facilities, overseas expansion and the launch of two major brands: Aramis – the first men’s prestige fragrance brand and Clinique – which revolutionizes the industry and becomes one of the most successful brands in cosmetics history.
First overseas account
After long and persistent efforts, Estée Lauder lands the Company’s first overseas account in Harrods – the finest store in London. The UK will become a core market.
At a time when many say the post-war economies aren’t strong enough to support prestige cosmetics, the Lauders see opportunity. Leonard believes that with economic improvement, there will be a hunger for small luxuries.
This proves to be true as the Company begins building its global footprint in the 1960s. Initial countries and territories:
“In many ways women share a common language. No matter what our culture, no matter what our background, we understand each other.”
Estée’s first makeup collection
A limited edition makeup collection debuts, providing a complete package of products designed for evening wear. Years later, the original pattern on the collection’s exterior packaging inspires the advertising for the Estée Lauder Mad Men® collection.
Ronald S. Lauder joins Company
After graduating from the Wharton School of Business, Ronald follows his brother into the family business, spending time overseas in Belgium and Paris. His mastery of several languages is of tremendous value to the Company.
Aramis transforms men’s fragrance
Aramis launches as the first prestige men’s fragrance and treatment brand of men’s grooming products, named after an exotic Turkish root originally used as an aphrodisiac.
A master plan
Marketing aims at educating men [and the women who love them] emphasizing that it’s acceptable for them to smell nice and have soft skin.
“Real Men Use Scent”
The recognizable and refined scent and tortoiseshell packaging will remain timeless, crossing beyond age groups and fads for years to come.
Scaling up manufacturing
The Company plans its first manufacturing facility in Melville, New York, designed by architect Richard Dattner who will work with the Lauder family on several future projects. This will be the first of three manufacturing sites built to meet increased demand in this decade.
Welcome to Melville
The facility is recognized for its modern architectural design. The Lauders will spend time at the plant: Joseph overseeing operations, Estée involved with product formulation, Leonard encouraging and supporting R&D.
Construction begins in Oevel
In 1965, the Company breaks ground on its first factory overseas, in Oevel, Belgium, allowing international expansion to flourish. Ronald will spend his early years at the Company working in this facility.
Whitman plant is built
The second overseas facility, Whitman Labs, is built in Hampshire, England, in 1966.
Caring for the community
The Lauder family’s first philanthropic venture is to create new, improved play areas for children in New York City’s Central Park.
The elegant 24-kt. gold-plated Golden Alligator refillable compact is introduced as the ultimate beauty accessory for loose or pressed powder. This one is still sold today.
Compacts become branded collectibles and new designs are introduced every year. There are more than 1700 compacts in The Estée Lauder Companies archives today.
Clinique revolutionizes the beauty industry
The launch of Clinique marks another industry first - a dermatologist-created allergy-tested, 100% fragrance-free collection of cosmetics products.
View Clinique video
A brief video history of the creation of Clinique including clips from Ronald Lauder and Dr. Norman Orentreich.
“Great skin can be created”
Former Vogue beauty editor Carol Phillips is hired to lead this large-scale launch of 117 products.
The Company partners with Dr. Norman Orentreich, a high-profile New York dermatologist.
Who’s behind the name?
As for the name, Evelyn Lauder finds inspiration from “Clinique Aesthetique” signs in Paris and the brand is born. Later she helps with Clinique education, training saleswomen on product usage and high-touch service.
A family affair
Leonard Lauder is the catalyst behind Clinique. He sees the need for Allergy-Tested, Fragrance Free cosmetics and believes that a breakthrough concept to compete with Estée Lauder should be created internally.
Ronald Lauder works hard to help establish Clinique and he eventually became General Manager in 1985, refining the business and leading it to profitability. He becomes Chairman of Clinique Laboratories in 1995.
Technology meets beauty
The now world-famous 3-Step Skin Care System – a twice daily cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing routine – marks the first use of technology to match cosmetics to different skin types.
Clinique will remain one of the Company’s most innovative and successful brands. The clean simplicity of its use and benefits is depicted in Irving Penn’s famous “Twice a day” ad in 1974.
Move to GM Building
The Company moves to even more prestigious headquarters as one of the earliest tenants of the new GM Building at 767 Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park in New York City.
It is still global headquarters to the Company today, where Estée’s original office has been preserved.
While building their beauty empire, Estée and Joseph Lauder socialize at lavish parties, dinners and charity events with leading influentials of their day including Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Princess Grace of Monaco, the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor.
Beauty as a lifestyle
The Company’s advertising and packaging boldly reflect the overall lifestyle of the 1970s – the standards of beauty, trends in fashion, photography and interior design, and the changing role of women.
The Estée Lauder woman
Karen Graham is hired to reflect the ideal Estée Lauder woman: elegant, successful, sensual, and smart. The model will represent the brand for the next 15 years in luxury advertising campaigns.
Estée has a wonderful “nose” for scent. She creates a signature Estée fragrance (1968) and debuts several new scents within the span of a few years — believing women should have a rich and varied perfume wardrobe.
Inspired by the coast of France
A scent for the active woman
Aliage is launched as the first sport fragrance, giving the active woman a scent to wear with jeans or a tennis dress. Advertising celebrates the new femininity of the time.
Her own special scent
Estée mixes a special scent for herself and women start asking for it in stores, thus Private Collection is born. Princess Grace of Monaco is an early fan.
Fresh, crisp and clean
"The more complex and pressured a women's life becomes, the more she prizes simplicity and ease. White Linen is that calming element that can lift spirits and make a woman feel cool and calm."
Fascinated by the mystery and opulence of the Orient, Estée introduces Cinnabar an exotic scent that blends jasmine, orange flower, clove and patchouli into an intense, sensual fragrance.
Vivid patterns are carried throughout packaging and displays of Estée Lauder Holiday Collections. Patterns are inspired by interior design elements like fine fabrics and floor tiles, as well as nature.
The Estée Lauder brand created themed Holiday Collections with new patterns every year, advertised through special Gift with Purchase offers.
The next generation
Leonard Lauder displays strong leadership skills and assumes the role of President. The growing Lauder family vacations together in Palm Beach (l-r): Joe, William, Ronald, Aerin, Jo Carole, Gary, Evelyn, Leonard and Estée.
It’s all about the color
A series of ads are created to launch new seasonal color palettes of Estée Lauder products for eyes, lips, cheeks and nails. Each shade evokes a story.
The Aramis Man
In an era when many men express reluctance towards fragrance and grooming products, advertising for the peppery and potent Aramis portrays strength, smarts and masculine success.
View Aramis clip with Leonard Lauder
Leonard A. Lauder speaks about the Aramis Man in a video celebrating the brand’s 40th Anniversary.
Created for discerning men around the world, advertising conveys an aspirational lifestyle that appeals to both sexes, as it is mostly women who purchase mens’ cologne.
Product positioning promotes a classic masculine sophistication. The name “Estée Lauder” is removed from the back of Aramis brand packaging.
A citizen of the world
Estée is recognized for building a successful influential company from humble beginnings. Receiving the French Legion of Honor is a definite high point in her life.
The revolution of science
Prescriptives distinguishes itself with scientific precision and custom blending for individualized skincare and makeup products. Ronald Lauder is instrumental in launching this revolutionary brand with its concept of customization.
New product launches and store openings become major news events. Estée publishes her autobiography and is recognized for her great influence on the beauty business.
A driving force
Leonard A. Lauder assumes the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Company 10 years after being named President. Estée says, “Leonard sets the Estée Lauder pace.”
Ground-breaking overnight skin repair
Estée learns that night time is the best time to repair skin. She creates Night Repair, a serum that speeds up the natural repair of damaged cells overnight to reduce the signs of aging.
Advanced Night Repair improves on the original formula.
Joseph H. Lauder passes away
Estée’s beloved husband and partner Joseph passes away. For years he controlled financial matters, manufacturing operations and the Lauder Foundation.
Sons Leonard and Ronald establish the Joseph H. Lauder Institute for Management & International Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
In her own words
Estée relates her life and start of the Company in “Estée: A Success Story,” dedicated “To Joe, my love, my life, my perfect balance.”
Beautiful, a major new scent, is “married” in marketing to the glowing beauty of brides through special events and in-store promotions.
As beautiful as a bride
Beautiful is Estée's vision, carried out by Evelyn Lauder, seen here with Leonard and Estée at a “wedding” launch event. Beautiful becomes a bestselling prestige fragrance and remains so today.
Iconic artist Andy Warhol, seen here with Estée, is a huge fan of hers and of Beautiful. Years later he would be buried with a bottle of the intoxicating fragrance.
William P. Lauder joins the Company
William, Leonard and Evelyn’s son – Estée and Joe’s grandson – becomes a regional Marketing Director for Clinique U.S.A. in New York. He will continue his family’s strong leadership into the future.
Advanced skincare for men
A team of scientists, researchers and skincare specialists create Aramis’ Lab Series Skincare for Men, using modern technology, advanced ingredients and the latest research on men’s physiological and lifestyle needs.
International affairs of beauty
As relations improve between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Estée welcomes Russian First Lady Raisa Gorbachev to New York and expresses her dream of opening a shop in Moscow.
For the women of Moscow
One year later, the first Estée Lauder perfumery opens on Gorky Street two blocks from Red Square, and is the country’s first shop selling a wide range of Western cosmetics.
The Company’s public relations department issues a press release announcing the opening of the perfumery in Moscow.
Inside Estée’s Perfumery
The inside of the Moscow perfumery was restored from a pre-war building, with dramatic 18-foot ceilings and marble columns. The atmosphere exuded elegance.
Honoring her heritage
Estée pays tribute to her mother’s Hungarian heritage by opening the Company’s first-ever freestanding store in Budapest. Estée’s appearance at the historic ribbon-cutting ceremony is captured on video.
People Who Made a Difference
Estée is added to the Wall Street Journal’s list of business influencers of the century – among giants like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford, and Disney – as the Company surpasses $1 billion in annual sales.
Building Our Portfolio
Brand acquisitions and licensing agreements contribute to explosive growth as the Company transforms from a family-owned business to a publicly-traded, family-controlled organization. Estée’s granddaughters join the Company.
“Powered by Nature. Proven by Science.”
William Lauder leads the creation of Origins — the first wellness brand in U.S. department stores. The high performance, natural/organic skin care brand combines the power of nature and modern science.
First U.S. freestanding store
With Origins, the Company pushes the boundaries of its brands’ distribution with a freestanding store in Cambridge, Massachusetts — the first in the U.S.
Beyond the counter
Continuing the brand’s expansion at retail, in 1993 William Lauder champions the innovative store-within-a-store concept for Origins, creating a more branded shopping experience for the consumer.
Aerin Lauder joins the Company
Aerin Lauder, daughter of Ronald and Jo Carole, granddaughter of Estée and Joseph, joins as a member of the Prescriptives marketing team, ultimately becoming Style and Image Director for the Estée Lauder brand.
Breast Cancer Awareness
A breast cancer survivor herself, Evelyn Lauder and SELF Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Penney create the now-ubiquitous Pink Ribbon.
Evelyn launches the Company’s Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign and establishes the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993.
Launching in China
The Estée Lauder and Clinique brands launch in the Isetan department stores in Shanghai. Chinese women’s beauty routines include on average seven products in the morning and another seven at night.
Fragrance licensing begins
The Company’s bold new fragrance licensing division signs its first agreement with fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger for global distribution.
New global licensing agreements are signed with Kiton, an Italian fashion house (1995), and with American fashion designer Donna Karan (1997).
Donna Karan New York and DKNY fragrances and luxury body products reflect the quality, style and innovation associated with Donna Karan.
Big investment in bold brand
The Company buys a majority interest in Toronto-based M·A·C Cosmetics, the brand “for all ages, all races and all sexes,” and completes the acquisition in 1998.
New model for cause giving
The M·A·C AIDS Fund is created and VIVA GLAM Lipsticks launch with drag queen RuPaul as spokesperson. An unprecedented 100% of the purchase price benefits people affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Estée Lauder Companies goes public
The Lauder family celebrates going public on the New York Stock Exchange on November 17, at $26.00 a share ($6.50 post-splits). By day’s end the stock sees a 33% increase.
Brand acquisitions begin
The Company acquires Bobbi Brown Cosmetics -- designed by the celebrated makeup artist known for creating makeup that enhances natural beauty.
From a cult following in New York City, the Bobbi Brown brand eventually becomes a global powerhouse, sold in more than 60 countries.
Miraculous healing powers of the sea
La Mer is acquired along with the original recipe for its supreme luxury product, Crème de la Mer, containing Miracle Broth™ made with nutrient-rich sea kelp.
Inspired by the healing powers of the sea, aerospace physicist Dr. Max Huber invented the Miracle Broth™ for his own use after a lab accident covered his face with chemical burns.
First hair care and holistic beauty brand
Horst Rechelbacher, a pioneer of holistic beauty and environmental responsibility, created Aveda, a line of luxury botanical products acquired in 1997.
From the Sanskrit “Ayurveda,” meaning “science of life,” products are made from essences of herbs, oils and plants, and sold at hair salons and spas.
British style and sophistication
The renowned fragrance house Jo Malone London is acquired in 1999, with products that celebrate the British style and sophistication with a dash of wit and whimsy.
The brand that connects with the elegant art of gift giving inspires a loyal following with its scented lifestyle products for the body and the home.
Under William Lauder’s leadership and ahead of the curve, the Company launches its first e-commerce sites for Clinique and Bobbi Brown. The ELC Online division for all brands is created in 1999.
Jane Lauder joins the Company
Jane Lauder, daughter of Ronald and Jo Carole, joins Clinique. In 2010 she becomes Global President and General Manager of Origins. As of 2014, she has been Global Brand President of Clinique.
Leadership of the business transitions to William Lauder, and is then shared with Fabrizio Freda — brought in to fortify operations and provide strategic direction as the public company evolves.
Expanding the portfolio
The Company buys a majority interest in Bumble & bumble, the fashion-forward salon with its hair styling university and line of products developed with hairdressers. Acquisition is completed in 2006.
Jet set lifestyle products
An exclusive global licensing agreement is signed with the celebrated American fashion designer Michael Kors in 2003 for fragrances reflecting the jet set lifestyle.
The art of formulation
The Paris-based Laboratories Darphin is acquired with its line of prestige skin care products, makeup and personal care products created from the finest plant extracts and botanical aromas.
Estée Lauder passes away
Estée Lauder believed that every woman can be beautiful. By the time she passes away at the age of 95, this simple notion has changed the face of the beauty business.
Estée’s legacy includes products and brands she invented, and a culture of quality, style and unsurpassed customer service that has made the Estée Lauder Companies the global cosmetics leader it is today.
Read more about our founder in The Estée Story
Third generation of family leadership
William Lauder becomes CEO, championing areas like digital commerce, citizenship and continuous learning. Years later he designs and teaches a course for MBA students on decision-making in leadership.
Designer Tom Ford updates an Estée Lauder classic with Youth-Dew Amber Nude and the Company signs with him to develop and distribute fragrances and cosmetics under the Tom Ford Beauty brand.
A strategic hire
Fabrizio Freda is hired as President and Chief Operating Officer. The strategically-focused, financially-disciplined leader brings a wealth of experience in the consumer products arena. He will be named CEO in 2009.
Publicly traded and family controlled
William Lauder becomes Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board; Aerin Lauder and Jane Lauder join the Board of Directors, keeping the family at the heart of the Company.
The global house of prestige beauty
The Estée Lauder Companies is the only company focused solely on prestige makeup, skin care, fragrance and hair care with a diverse portfolio of 25+ exceptional brands.
The Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign earns a Guinness World Record for “Most Landmarks Illuminated for a Cause in 24 Hours” including the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower.
Evelyn Lauder conceives of the global illuminations effort to reach millions of people around the world. She is joined at many events by actress and model Elizabeth Hurley, a BCA spokesperson since 1995.
The Company goes Hollywood
The Company acquires Hollywood-based Smashbox, founded the great grandsons of makeup legend Max Factor, and born out of a photo studio where photographers, celebrities and makeup artists converge.
Clinique continues to innovate with Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector — a breakthrough product that rivals a prescription for treating uneven skin tone. It quickly becomes the brand’s bestselling product.
Evelyn Lauder leaves a legacy
A visionary and true leader, Evelyn Lauder passes away from complications of non-genetic ovarian cancer. She was perhaps best known to the public for her work in bringing global awareness to women’s health.
High-end fragrance licenses
Selective and strategic licensing agreements with luxury brands bring in fashion designers such as Ermenegildo Zegna, world-renowned for its contemporary sophistication, Italian elegance and quality.
American designer Tory Burch introduces her first fragrance and beauty capsule collection in 2013. It includes fragrance, body and color— classic and unexpected, easy and polished.
A revenue milestone
Joining a rarefied list of major businesses, the Company’s dedication to prestige beauty results in another record year, exceeding $10 billion in net sales for the first time.
Aerin Lauder introduces AERIN Beauty, a luxury lifestyle beauty and fragrance brand based on the premise that living beautifully should be effortless. The brand develops luxurious makeup, fragrance and body products.
Bold brands from creative entrepreneurs
Acquisitions focus on distinct brands like RODIN olio lusso, a highly selective line of premium, sensorial products that appeal to discerning consumers.
Founded by renowned stylist Linda Rodin, the brand reflects the easygoing and elegant Italian beauty that inspired her own style.
Custom-made luxury fragrance
Le Labo, a perfume house known for its carefully crafted perfumes and home scents, is acquired with a loyal following based on its high-quality products and unique retail experiences.
Founded by Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi, Le Labo combines some of the world's most talented perfumers with only the highest quality raw ingredients harvested from places like Grasse, France.
Founded by Glenn and Shannon Dellimore, GLAMGLOW is a Hollywood-inspired prestige skin care brand designed to get great-looking skin with fast-acting treatment masks.
GLAMGLOW’s legendary first product – YOUTHMUD – puts the brand on the map and the glamourous product line is now available in leading retailers around the world.
Celebrating the perfumers
Descended from legendary perfumers, yet challenging prevailing trends, Frédéric Malle curates a line of exclusive, ultra-luxury fragrances crafted by some of the world’s greatest noses and sold under each creator’s name.
Each fragrance in Malle’s eponymous collection, including popular scents such as Portrait of a Lady, reflects Malle’s streamlined approach and uncompromising dedication to celebrating perfumers and “pure perfumery.”
A heritage of sophistication
By Kilian, the Paris-based prestige brand is acquired in 2016 with a “wardrobe” of fragrances, candles, scented jewellery and eco-luxury, refillable perfume bottles that embody timeless sophistication and modern luxury.
Create by Kilian Hennessy – who brings a heritage of sophistication to his brand – By Kilian has built a passionate global following with its distinctive emphasis on sensuous olfactory storytelling.
The face of the modern workspace
The Company bolsters its base in London by gathering employees and education facilities under one roof at One Fitzroy — a unique workplace designed to draw in the best young new talent.
The new UK regional headquarters for The Estée Lauder Companies sets the benchmark for style and synergy with innovative workspaces in what is called the United Kingdom’s “most glamorous office.”
Attracting new enthusiasts
Estée Lauder signs model and social media sensation Kendall Jenner to introduce a new generation of beauty enthusiasts to the brand.
The Estée Edit collection of makeup and skincare products launches in 2016 in Sephora (U.S. and Canada) and in Selfridges (UK).
The Future of Beauty
Building on a rich heritage and diverse portfolio of exceptional brands — The Estée Lauder Companies continues to push the boundaries in prestige beauty.
We invite you to return to these pages for more to come…
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The Estée Lauder Companies' Key Moments