face cream

Elizabeth Arden

Elizabeth Arden (December 31, 1878 - October 19, 1966) was a Canadian businesswoman who built a cosmetics empire in the United States.


Arden was born Florence Nightingale Graham in Woodbridge, Ontario, where she lived until she was twenty-four years old. In 1909 Florence Nightingale Graham dropped out of nursing school in Toronto.

She then joined her elder brother in New York City, working briefly as a bookkeeper for the E.R. Squibb Pharmaceuticals Company. While there, she spent hours in their lab, learning about skincare. She then worked - again briefly - for Eleanor Adair, an early beauty culturist, as a "treatment girl."

Still 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 Tennyson's poem "Enoch Arden".

In 1912, Arden travelled to France to learn beauty and facial massage techniques used in the Paris beauty salons. She returned with a collection of rouges and tinted powders she had created. In an era when it was only acceptable for stage performers to wear makeup, Arden introduced modern eye makeup to North America. She also introduced the concept of the "makeover" in her salons.

Arden collaborated with A. Fabian Swanson, a chemist, to create a "fluffy" face cream. The success of the cream, called Venetian Cream Amoretta, and corresponding lotion, named Arden Skin Tonic, led to a long-lasting business relationship. This revolutionized cosmetics, bringing a scientific approach to formulations. other 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 World War II, Arden recognized 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 created a lipstick called Montezuma Red, for the women in the armed forces that would match the red on their uniforms. Although most of her commercial success was in cosmetics, she also pioneered restorative musical exercises based on yoga. She started a fashion business in 1943 with notable designers like Charles James and Oscar de la Renta on staff.

She began expanding her international operations in 1915, and started opening salons across the world, France and many other places. By the end of 1930s, it was said that "There are only three American names that are known in every single corner of the globe: Singer sewing machines, Coca Cola, and Elizabeth Arden." A fact proved by Heinrich Harrer in his book Seven Years in Tibet, where he stated that it's possible to buy Arden's products -- even in Tibet.

From the 1930s through the 1960s, Elizabeth Arden was considered the most exclusive cosmetic brand, with celebrated patrons including Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Wallis Simpson and Mamie Eisenhower. The introduction of the perfume "Blue Grass" in 1934 was also successful. It remains on the market until today.

She would use the name Maine Chance for her exclusive resort and health spa on Long Pond in Mount Vernon, Maine, catering to her wealthy clientele. At one time, the resort and its operating farm produced much of the food for the spa and was a significant employer in the town.

Personal life

In 1915 she married Thomas J. Lewis, a banker, thus becoming an American citizen. Arden's drive for success cost her marriage to Lewis. They divorced in 1934. A second marriage to a Russian prince only lasted 13 months.

Thoroughbred horse racing

Arden used the name Maine Chance Farm for her Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding operation in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1931 she had bought her first horse at the Fasig-Tipton sales at the Saratoga Race Course and in the nineteen forties and fifties she built Maine Chance Farm into a major force in American Thoroughbred horse racing. In 1945, Star Pilot and Beaugay were the Eclipse Award colt and filly champions, and her stable was the leading money-winner in the United States. In 1947 her colt Jet Pilot, trained and ridden by future Hall of Famers Tom Smith and Eric Guerin won the Kentucky Derby. Putting her on the cover of the May 6, 1946 issue of Time magazine. In 1948, she also acquired the great filly Busher as a broodmare from a spectacular auction conducted by Louis B. Mayer. Busher was not only inducted into the Hall of Fame, she ranked #40 in Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century. In 1954, her filly "Fascinator," won the Kentucky Oaks. For her contribution to the racing industry, Elizabeth Arden Graham was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.

Elizabeth Arden today

In recognition of her contribution to the cosmetic industry, she was awarded the Légion d'Honneur by the French government in 1962. She died in New York City in 1966 and was interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York under the name Elizabeth N. Graham. Her estate was worth $30 to $40 million (US) and she had over a hundred salons worldwide.

Elizabeth Arden's cosmetics company continues to trade today, and was bought from Unilever in 2003 by FFI, a New York company. They changed their name to Elizabeth Arden, and are listed on the NASDAQ (RDEN). The past 'face' of Elizabeth Arden was Swedish supermodel Vendela Kirsebom during the late-1980s to the mid-1990s. The current 'face' of Elizabeth Arden is Catherine Zeta Jones.

The company continues to offer color coordinated make-up sets, as well as an extensive line of skin care products and treatments.

Since Arden's death, some of the company's focus has shifted to the development of a number of fragrance lines. The company's signature fragrance is called "Red Door" named after their day spas which are called "Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons". Other fragrance within their own line are "Fifth Avenue", "Green Tea", "Provocative Woman" and their newest, "Mediteranian". The company also holds the license to the Hilary Duff fragrances "With Love... Hilary Duff" and "Wrapped With Love...", and the Britney Spears fragrances "Curious", "Fantasy", "Curious: In Control", "Midnight Fantasy", and "Believe" ; Elizabeth Taylor's "White Diamonds," "Passion," "Forever Elizabeth," and "Gardenia"; Mariah Carey's "M by Mariah Carey". In 2006 Elizabeth Arden acquired the fragrance portfolio from Riviera Concepts. The newly acquired brands include Alfred Sung, the Hummer fragrance franchise, Cynthia Rowley, Lulu Guinness, Bob Mackie, and Badgley Mischka.


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