Style.com
a monthly look at the faces that have made history

Estée Lauder

"There are no homely women," Estée Lauder said, "only careless ones." That sweeping conviction—along with a hard-nosed business approach—landed Lauder (born Josephine Esther Mentzer in Queens, New York, to Eastern European immigrant parents) at the head of an impressive group of beauty moguls that included Helena Rubinstein, Germaine Monteil, and Elizabeth Arden. Lauder didn't just push product; she had an intuitive understanding of the finer points of selling (thank her for that gift with purchase you picked up last week; she pioneered the concept). Lauder also had a sincere love for her customer and she promoted the idea of making beauty accessible by moving it out of salons and into department stores. Her personal secret formula: classic tailoring, perfectly coiffed hair, and assertive charm. Lauder, who died last month at 95 (or 97, depending on whom you believe) wasn't conventionally glamorous; but then again, this pioneering founder of a $5 billion empire broke the mold in every way.

—Janet Ozzard

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