Elizabeth Arden Biography: Cosmetics & Beauty Executive

Business Executive in the Beauty Industry

Elizabeth Arden in 1947
Elizabeth Arden in 1947. Getty Images / Hulton Archive

Elizabeth Arden was the founder, owner, and operator of Elizabeth Arden, Inc., a cosmetics and beauty corporation.  She used modern mass marketing techniques to bring her cosmetic products to the public, committed to an approach that emphasized a natural beauty.  Her slogan was "To be beautiful and natural is the birthright of every woman." She also opened and operated a chain of beauty salons and beauty spas.

  She was also noted for her passion for owning race horses; a horse from one of her stables won the Kentucky Derby in 1947. She lived from December 31, 1884 - October 18, 1966.  Her cosmetics and beauty products brand continues today. 

Childhood

Her father was a Scottish grocer in the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario, when Elizabeth Arden was born as the fifth of five children. Her mother was English, and died when Arden was only six years old. Her birth name was Florence Nightingale Graham -- named, as many of her age were, for Britain's famous nursing pioneer.  The family was poor, and she often worked odd jobs to add to family income.  She began training as a nurse, herself, but abandoned that path.

New York

She moved to New York, where her brother had already moved. She went to work first as a helper in a cosmetic shop and then in a beauty salon as a partner. In 1909, when her partnership broke up, she opened a Red Door beauty salon of her own on Fifth Avenue, and changed her name to Elizabeth Arden.

(The name was adapted from Elizabeth Hubbard, her first partner, and Enoch Arden, title of a Tennyson poem.) 

Arden began to formulate, manufacture, and sell her own cosmetic products. She went to France in 1912 to learn beauty practices there. In 1914 she began expanding her business under the corporate name, "Elizabeth Arden." In 1922, she opened her first salon in France, thus moving into the European market.

Marriage

In 1918, Elizabeth Arden married. Her husband, Thomas Lewis, was an American banker, and through him she gained American citizenship. Thomas Lewis served as her business manager until their divorce in 1935. She never permitted her husband to own stock in her enterprise, and so after the divorce he went to work for the rival firm owned by Helena Rubinstein.

Spas

In 1934, Elizabeth Arden converted her summer home in Maine into the Maine Chance Beauty Spa, and then expanded her line of spas nationally and internationally.  In 1936, she worked on the movie Modern Times, and in 1937, on A Star Is Born.

World War II

Arden's company came out with a bold red lipstick color during World War II, to coordinate with women's military uniforms.

In 1941, the FBI investigated allegations that Elizabeth Arden salons in Europe were being opened as cover for Nazi operations.

Later Life

In 1942, Elizabeth Arden married again, this time to the Russian Prince Michael Evlonoff, but this marriage lasted only until 1944.  She did not remarry, and she had no children.

In 1943, Arden expanded her business into fashion, partnering with famous designers. In 1947, she became a racehorse owner. 

Elizabeth Arden's business eventually included salons in the United States and Europe, with a presence in Australia and South America as well -- more than a hundred such Elizabeth Arden salons.

Her company manufactured more than 300 cosmetic products. Elizabeth Arden products sold for a premium price as she maintained an image of exclusivity and quality.

The French government honored Arden with the Légion d'Honneur in 1962.

Elizabeth Arden died in 1966 in New York. She was buried in a cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, as Elizabeth N. Graham.  She had kept her age a secret for many years, but on death, it was revealed to be 88.

Influence

In her salons and through her marketing campaigns, Elizabeth Arden stressed teaching women how to apply makeup, and pioneered such concepts as scientific formulation of cosmetics, beauty makeovers, and coordinating colors of eye, lip, and facial makeup.

Elizabeth Arden was largely responsible for establishing makeup as proper and appropriate -- even necessary -- for a ladylike image, when before makeup had often been associated with lower classes and such professions as prostitution.

She targeted middle age and plain women for whom beauty products promised a youthful, beautiful image.

More Facts About Elizabeth Arden

Women known to use her cosmetics included Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe, and Jacqueline Kennedy.

In politics, Elizabeth Arden was a strong conservative who supported Republicans.

One of Elizabeth Arden's trademarks was to dress always in pink. 

Her best-known products include the Eight Hour Cream and Blue Grass fragrance.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Elizabeth Arden Biography: Cosmetics & Beauty Executive." ThoughtCo, Oct. 31, 2017, thoughtco.com/elizabeth-arden-biography-3528897. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, October 31). Elizabeth Arden Biography: Cosmetics & Beauty Executive. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/elizabeth-arden-biography-3528897 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Elizabeth Arden Biography: Cosmetics & Beauty Executive." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/elizabeth-arden-biography-3528897 (accessed November 23, 2017).