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April 24 2014

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Evelyn Lauder, 1936 – 2011

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The beauty industry and the global beauty community lost an innovator and a friend this weekend when senior vice president of the Estèe Lauder Companies, Evelyn Lauder, passed away at her home in Manhattan after complications with non-genetic ovarian cancer. Lauder was 75. She joined the New York-based beauty empire when she married Leonard Lauder, the son of company founder, Estèe, in 1959. As a new product director and marketing director for the company, Lauder came up with the name Clinique and became the first to wear the brand’s signature white lab coat as its first training director in 1968. In her later role as the head of Lauder’s global fragrance development, Evelyn was behind such smash-hit scents as Beautiful, Happy, and Pleasures. She also spearheaded the company’s acquisition of Bumble and bumble in 2000.

But Lauder’s real legacy just might be her creation of the pink ribbon. A breast cancer survivor, Lauder—with the help of the then-editor-in-chief of Self Magazine Alexandra Penney—distributed hundreds of the symbolic pins along with breast self-exam charts in 1992 at Lauder counters to help raise awareness about the disease. The following year, she founded the Breast Cancer Research Fund, which to date has raised more than $350 million to help eradicate it. “Evelyn was the nicest, smartest lady around,” a beauty editor colleague of ours said as news of Mrs. Lauder’s death spread. She will be sorely missed.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/ Getty Images

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