Evelyn Lauder is worried about her eyes.
"I went to Rebecca's in Venice last night and ate all those wonderful chips. But they had so much salt. Now I'm all puffed up. I don't have eyelids anymore."
No matter. In her trim, baby pink Valentino suit, with a skin like porcelain and not a hair out of place, immaculate Evelyn is, even at 50, a walking ad for mother-in-law Estee's cosmetics empire.
Travels the World
As the company's corporate vice president--and its good-will ambassador who travels the world from Paris to Palm Beach spreading the good word--she lives and breathes beauty.
Married to Leonard Lauder, Estee's oldest son, Lauder is the ultimate example of the adage that true beauty can be achieved only through suffering. On her annual tour of California recently, the 5-foot, 5-inch brunette detailed her regimen, recommending it to women who want to remain looking good.
She braves the sun, she says, only with Super Sunblock 20, and she always wears a moisturizer. She eats no butter, sugar, cheese or salt (except for the occasional chip at a Mexican restaurant), forsaking them for fruits and vegetables. Never a sweetmeat passes her lips. She drinks as much water as she can digest and tries to sleep before midnight "because that's the time when the skin most repairs itself."
Lauder walks to work, lunch and appointments--in sneakers. "You should see me in the winter, a real yuppie, walking down Fifth Avenue with all the other women, in sneakers and a fur coat."
And she maintains a library of creams diligently applied at specific times. She has used Night Repair for seven years and is convinced it has saved her many a wrinkle. The greaseless liquid, she explains, contains a hydrator to seal in the skin's natural moisture and a complex that repairs the damage wreaked on skin by the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Women who want to retain youthful skin must follow a routine and be sure not to omit any of the rituals.
"Even when you go down the street or pick up your newspaper or kiss your husband at the door," Lauder says, "you must wear moisturizer. It's the naked skin that gets exposed to light."
Cleansing and makeup are important too, she adds. Lauder's personal routine takes her only 15 minutes, she says. At night she cleanses with makeup-remover pads, puts on a gentle protective tonic, Night Repair and Age Controlling Creme around the eyes and on her throat.
In the morning, she uses the tonic (and the cleansing bar twice a week), Prescriptives' Line Preventer--a gelatinous liquid similar to Night Repair--Swiss Performing Extract as a moisturizer, liquid Re-Nutriv around her eyes, a concealer under her eyes, Clinique's Bronzing Gel on her cheeks, a makeup base, face powder and eye makeup.
"Skin is a barometer of a person's health, and with the health consciousness of today, skin is looking better. As a result, if you cleanse, eat properly and exercise, less makeup is necessary. We are selling makeup base of a much sheerer consistency today."
Lauder's demeanor could be termed, at times, slightly imperious. But she possesses the boundless energy, streak of perfectionism and deliberate good manners that lend themselves well to her job--a combination of public relations and product development, both of fragrances and of cosmetics under the company's Estee Lauder, Clinique, Aramis and Prescriptives labels.
Lauder says it was she who suggested the name Clinique for the company's line of hypo-allergenic cosmetics, and who dreamed up the idea, 16 months ago, of inviting to lunch 150 of New York's most dashing men to launch the men's fragrance, Lauder for Men. And it was she who was directly responsible ("Mrs. Lauder had an allergy that year") for the flowery fragrance Beautiful, launched in September of 1985 with ads and in-store promotions featuring models in diaphanous wedding gowns and flowing veils.
The perfume has been a great success, Lauder says, exceeding sales expectations by 10 times in California alone.
Appeal to Tradition
"With Beautiful, we appealed to a return to tradition, which is what we felt the American woman was ready for," Lauder says. "We found marriage is on the rise and lots of girls are having traditional weddings. We used a bride in the ad because every woman wants to be a bride, even if she's old and has already been one. Also, I think women just love the perfume when they smell it."
Lauder was born in Vienna to Jewish parents at the same time Hitler was establishing his power in Europe. Her parents escaped with her to Germany and then to London where the family lived through the blitz before arriving in New York. She went to Hunter College, where, as a freshman, she met Leonard Lauder. In her senior year and the year after, she taught school in Harlem. In 1959, she married Lauder.
She started a program to teach salespeople how to sell the Lauder line and then went around the country making personal appearances.
"Who had heard of Estee Lauder in 1959?" she asks. "No one. We had five accounts. People would ask me if I was related to Sir Harry Lauder, who was someone big in vaudeville."
Today, with 1,700 products under the company's various labels, people know the difference. The company will continue to grow, Lauder says, because pharmacologic research in cosmetics is getting increasingly more sophisticated.
"When you think that 20 years ago all you had was collagen," she says. "Now you have a whole dictionary of things.
"It's not what Charles Revson called 'a jar of hope' anymore," Lauder says. "In the old days, you threw a jar at someone and said 'trust me' and they said 'why?' and there was no answer.
"Today, the consumer is king, the ingredients are on the box, and we are delivering great products."