Florence Nightingale Graham (December 31, 1878 – October 18, 1966), who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden was born in 1878 in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. Her parents had emigrated to Canada from Cornwall, United Kingdom, in the 1870s. Her father, William Graham, was Scottish and her mother, Susan, was Cornish and had arranged for a wealthy aunt in Cornwall to pay for her children’s education. Arden dropped out of nursing school in Toronto.
She then joined her elder brother in Manhattan, New York, working briefly as a bookkeeper for the E.R. Squibb Pharmaceuticals Company. She then worked, again briefly, for Eleanor Adair, an early beauty culturist, as a ‘treatment girl’. While there, Arden spent hours in their lab, learning about skincare.
Florence Nightingale Graham, who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden, was became a businesswoman who founded what is now Elizabeth Arden, Inc., and built a cosmetics empire in the United States. At the peak of her career, she was one of the wealthiest and well know women in the world!
Elizabeth Arden: “every woman has the right to be beautiful.” With that philosophy, she launched advertising campaigns to help normalize the use of makeup across the country.
In 1909 Arden formed a partnership with Elizabeth Hubbard, another culturist. When the partnership dissolved, she coined the business name ‘Elizabeth Arden’ from her former partner and from ‘Tenneyson’s poem ‘Enoch Arden’. With a $6,000 loan from her brother, she then used the shop space to open her first salon on 5th Avenue.
In 1912 Arden traveled to France to learn beauty and facial massage techniques used in the Paris beauty salons.She returned with a collection of rouges (blushers) and tinted powders she had created. Arden was, in 1914, the first to introduce modern eye makeup to North America after her formal training in Paris.
In 1915 Elizabeth Arden married Thomas j. Lewis, an American Banker. By this marriage, she was automatically a naturalized American citizen. In the same year started to operate and Arden international she opened salons around the world, all with a red door, her trademark. Arden collaborated with A. Fabian Swanson, a chemist, to create a ‘fluffy’ face cream. The success of the cream, Venetian Cream Amoretta, and corresponding lotion, Arden Skin Tonic, led to a long-lasting business relationship. This revolutionized cosmetics, bringing a scientific approach to formulations.
Elizabeth Arden’s most famous, ’till today: Eight Hour cream. Here in a new re-edition .
And by the 1930s, yes, in the middle of the Great Depression, her company was bringing in roughly $4 million a year! In 1934, she opened the Maine Chance residential spa in Rome, Maine, the first destination beauty spa in the United States.It operated until 1970. Ardens passion in her work led in 1934 to a divorce. A second marriage to a Russian Prince lasted only thirteen months.
Elizabeth Arden, 1930’s. By the end of the 1930s it was said; ‘There are only three American names that are known in every corner of the globe: Singer sewing machines, Coca Cola, and Elizabeth Arden’.
1935 saw the launch of Blue Grass fragrance. It quickly became one of the most successful Elizabeth Arden scents.
Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass
Around 1940 Arden launged ‘White Orchid’ perfume. Other makeup innovations included creating foundations that matched a person’s skin tone; creating the idea of the “Total Look” in which lip, cheek, and fingernail colors matched or coordinated; and the first to make a cosmetics commercial shown in movie houses. During the second World War, Elizabeth Arden saw that market changed. She saw the changing needs of the American woman entering the work force. She showed women how to apply makeup and dress appropriately for careers outside the home. She developed and brought a lipstick on the market in the ‘Montezuma Red’ color, a color that is applied at the red in the uniforms of the female soldiers.
Elizabeth Arden Pink Violet, 1950’s (Click photo to enlarge).
Marilyn Monroe on the way to shopping at Elizabeth Arden Salon (Click photo to enlarge).
In the years Elizabeth Arden has many famous clients like Marilyn Monroe, the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III, Nina Dyer Aga Khan and Martine Carole. Elizabeth Arden wasn’t only famous for her salons and Spa’s. She offerd a lot more! For (vèry) special clients, she offered treatments at home. She also sended ‘her’ hairdressers when they where needed….
HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, signed for Roger Flor 1er Coiffeur Elizabeth Arden, 1959 (photo signed by Sam Levine)(Privat Collection) (Click photo to enlarge).
Nina Sheila Dyer Aga Khan signed for Roger Flor 1er Coiffeur Elizabeth Arden (photo signed by Tony Armstrong John, Pimlico Road studio )(Privat Collection) (Click photo to enlarge).
Elizabeth Arden, circa 1960 (Click photo to enlarge).
In recognition of her contribution to the cosmetics industry, she was awarded the ‘Lègion d’Honneur by the French government in 1962. Later in her life, Arden was one of the first women to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and one of her horses won the Kentucky Derby (can you imagine the parties she must have thrown?!), but it’s undeniable that the greatest accomplishment of her lifetime was her legacy of breaking barriers and making the world a more awesome place.
Arden died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan in 1966; she was interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, under the name Elizabeth N. Graham. Her company was at that time worth between $35 and $45 million, and they possessed more than a hundred beauty salons all over the world.
Elizabeth Arden is now still a reputable name, but had some different owners. Acquired by Eli Lilly & Co in 1971; bought by Faberge in 1987, merged into Unilever in 1989. Later the Company split into two smaller companies: Elizabeth Arden and Parfums International. The Elizabeth Arden side, looked after all of the Arden cosmetics and fragrances, while Parfums International created fragrances for Nino Cerruti, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld and Chloe.
Elizabeth Arden’s bestseller and Holy Grail: Ceramide Capsules. It moists and restores. Perfect to take with you on holydays! Unisex and easy to use: One capsule for the whole face, neck, and whats left… for the back of your hands! (Click photo to enlarge).
On 31st October 2000, Unilever sold it’s Arden business, to US company, FFI Fragrances for $225 million, as part of Unilever’s program to shed operations that ‘don’t meet the company’s strategic needs’.
FFI is based in Miami Lakes, produce fragrances by Bogart and Halston. On completion of sale, FFI decided to trade under the Arden name., included in the sale was the Elizabeth Taylor brands of Passion and White Diamonds. Unilever kept control of the Parfums International brands (Cerruti, Valentino, Lagerfeld and Chloe). The current company name is still Elizabeth Arden.
In 2002, Catherine Zeta-Jones became Elizabeth Arden’s ‘face’ and corporate spokesperson. Catherine said; “I have read masses about Elizabeth Arden. She was a visionary, and I am proud to be a part of the company she created,” and; “As Miss Arden said, ‘to be beautiful and natural is the birthright of every woman,’ and I wholeheartedly agree with her philosophy, and dare I say, conviction to her dream.”
In 2003, Elizabeth Arden acquired the license for Gant USA fragrances from Romella.
In 2003, Elizabeth Arden Graham was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
After Ardens death the company founded itself partly, next to their skincare and makeup, on the development of perfumes. With classics like ‘White Orchid’, ‘On Dit’ and ‘Blue Grass’, a new Elizabeth Arden perfume was marketed under the name ‘Red Door’, named after her famous trademark (all her salons were equipped with a red front door). Furthermore, the company brought perfumes out for celebrities as Elizabeth Yaylor, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey.
Elizabeth Arden actif on African market (Click photo to enlarge).
Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Ceramid Moisture Cream Complex, Serum and Eye Gel (Click photo to enlarge).
Today, the company she founded brings in over a billion in sales and gives generously to causes including New York City’s public schools, Save the Children, and the Look Good…Feel Better campaign, which helps boost the morale of cancer patients.
by Jean Amr