What does one wear to lunch with two doyennes of beauty, Evelyn Lauder and Liz Hurley? A Chanel suit (Estée’s favourite)? Something pink in honour of Lauder’s
support of breast cancer research? With time running out, it’s a quick spritz of Youth Dew, then off to Holt Renfrew for a private lunch at the Bloor Street store where Lauder and Hurley will announce a fundraising partnership for Canadian breast cancer research at a cocktail party later in the evening.
It’s clear that since joining the company in 1994 when she was 29, Hurley is now a de facto member of the Lauder clan. She and Evelyn seem more like mother and daughter than employer and employee. And, in case you were wondering, Elizabeth Hurley is even more alluring in person. She speaks with a rich, plummy accent and has amazing skin and a confident yet relaxed banter that no doubt comes from years of hanging with Euro jet-setters, royals and queens (e.g., Elton). In contrast, Evelyn Lauder is a petite powerhouse whose forceful personality is well softened by her gracious manners and calm demeanour.
What was it like for Lauder to join the beauty dynasty upon her marriage to Leonard, chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, in 1959? “We weren’t the Lauder family then,” she says, laughing. “There were only five of us in the office. I used two names to make it sound like it was a bigger company: my maiden name with a Brooklyn accent to answer the phone and my married name with a husky voice to take orders. There was a rumour going around that Leonard married his secretary!” Lauder becomes emotional when she reminisces about her mother-in-law, the formidable Estée. “Before she passed away [in 2004], she asked Leonard and I to organize her Palm Beach house. I found her evening bags that still had lipsticks in long-discontinued colours, as well as her scented handkerchiefs.”
For Hurley, joining forces with the company was a wake-up call. “Before I started with Estée Lauder, I used the basics, but major skin care wasn’t on my conscience. Once I got to try the products, it made a massive difference in my skin,” says Hurley. If she could go back in time, what beauty advice would she give to her 25-year-old self? “Use sun protection and good skin products, get sufficient sleep and wear a sturdy bra!”
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