Elizabeth Arden – Cosmetics Queen

Day 238 of Colourisation Project – December 31

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

In 1912 15,000 American suffragists marching for women’s rights wore red lipstick as a sign of strength and solidarity. In America of the early 1900s makeup was frowned upon and generally associated with prostitutes, and not something ‘respectable’ women would wear.  Amongst the women marching that day was a young woman named Florence Nightingale Graham, who supplied the lipstick to the marchers.

That young woman, a pioneer in the beauty industry, went on to turn a cosmetics business into an empire and one of the most recognized and successful brands in the world.

Better known by her business name, Elizabeth Arden, she was instrumental in changing public perceptions around makeup and in bringing respectability to the use of cosmetics.

Elizabeth Arden

Photographer Unknown – Elizabeth Arden – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Born in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada on this day, December 31 in 1884, Arden was born into an impoverished rural family. Named after the famous nursing pioneer, Florence Nightingale, Arden studied nursing but didn’t find it as satisfying as her namesake so in 1908, she moved to New York City, to join her brother. She soon found work as an assistant to a beautician. 

By 1910 she and a friend opened a salon in New York City on Fifth Avenue. They soon parted ways and she was left the sole proprietress, doing business under the name of Elizabeth Arden, which she chose to keep rather than scrap the gold leaf lettering on the plate glass window of the store.  [Elizabeth was her former partner’s name and Arden was taken from the Tennyson poem, Enoch Arden.]

It was then that she began to use the same name as her salon: Elizabeth Arden. She devised a marketing campaign to change the public’s concept of beauty products. Working in her favour at the time was the very popular silent movie industry. As the close-up became a feature in movies, makeup became more socially acceptable. Arden began to formulate her own products. She hired a team of chemists to develop a face cream and an astringent lotion in 1914 and these became the first items in her line of beauty products.

Within a short time, Arden was on her way to building a cosmetics empire in the United States. By 1915, she was selling her products internationally, and her company was achieving recognition as a global brand. In 1922 she established a salon in Paris followed by salons in South America and Australia.  At the peak of her career, Arden was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

In 1946, Arden became the first woman to grace the cover of TIME magazine.

In recognition of her contribution to the cosmetics industry, she was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French government in 1962.

Arden died in New York City on October 18, 1966, at the age of 81 and is interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York under her real name Elizabeth N. Graham.

At the time of her death, there were 100 Elizabeth Arden salons around the world.

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“To be beautiful is the birthright of every woman.”   Elizabeth Arden

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