Elizabeth Arden Perfumes – US vs French Perfumes
If you dropped out of nursing training and started your career as a lowly bookkeeper in a pharmaceuticals factory – would you think that a global business empire was on the cards for you? That was indeed the extraordinarily ‘ordinary’ background that Florence Nightingale Graham, who founded the Elizabeth Arden line of skincare and cosmetics, came from. Born in Canada she dropped out of nursing college and went to work as a bookkeeper for the Squibb Pharmaceutical company in 1909. Less than 20 years later it was said that there were only 3 brand names that could be found in every corner of the globe; Singer Sewing Machines, Coca Cola and Elizabeth Arden Perfumes. An extraordinary achievement from such humble beginnings.
She formed friendships with some of the staff in the Squibb laboratories and used to spend a lot of her free time there. This was where she developed her interest in skin care, something in its early stages of development at that time. She is also believed to have worked part time as a ‘treatment girl’ for one of the early beauty care sales companies. The combination of knowledge about how such creams were formulated and then sold to customers seems to have shown her the path that eventually led to her worldwide chain of salons which only sold her own lines of skincare and cosmetics.
The next step saw her move to France – a brave thing for a young woman to do in those days and probably relatively expensive too. Having been born in Canada she did have the advantage of being able to speak French, but she must have found the local culture very different from what she had been used to in her youth. She studied hard and picked up all sorts of tips on beauty techniques and formulated a number of face lotions while there.
Returning to New York she took back a set of face powders she had created. In the USA at that time only stage entertainers used any kind of make up and so it was a radical idea that ordinary women would do something similar. The concept of ‘makeovers’ was new and exciting to ladies of leisure and she seemed to hit a seam of people who proved very warm to these new ideas. It was her partnership with Fabian Swanson that proved to provide the real acceleration of her business. Swanson was a skilled chemist and they developed a ‘fluffy face cream’ that was very different from the tubs of lard that were commonly available at the time. There was increased emphasis on scientific formulation and a lot of the storyline on products was built around that concept.
Building on this early success a whole range of products was developed. In came the idea of foundation creams and skin toners, all designed with matching cosmetics like nail varnishes, blushers and mascara. This was the mainstay of the company for many years. The introduction of the Elizabeth Arden perfumes ranges came MUCH later, it may have come from her exposure to French perfumes while working in France, but that is pure supposition.
At the peak of her career, she had a salon in New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Maine, Arizona, Phoenix, Southhampton, Surfside, Florida, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Honolulu, Lima. Toronto, Montreal, Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Johannesburg, London, Paris, Zurich, Vienna, Milan, Rome, Cannes, Madrid, Brussels, Copenhagen, The Hague, London, Ontario, Cape Town, Nassau, Tulsa, Quebec City, and Biarritz. She launched all of them personally and she owned all of them except the one in Paris, which she gave to her sister.
Sadly Elizabeth Arden ignored all advice about preparing her estate for when she died. As a consequence her estate was heavily taxed when she died and even many of her personal effects had to be auctioned to help meet death duties.
Following the death of Elizabeth Arden the company has to some extent shifted its focus for new products towards ladies perfumes. The company’s signature fragrance is called “Red Door” named after their day spas which are called “Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons”.
Their well known own brands are “Fifth Avenue”, “Green Tea”, “Provocative Woman” and their newest, “Mediterranean”. A number of licence agreements have been signed with celebrities and fragrances developed for Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor and Mariah Carey.
Elizabeth Arden perfumes are available in most US Department stores and some perfume outlets but in the wholesale perfumes sector they tend to be less commonly available. Are these US perfumes superior to French perfumes? It’s debatable, how DO you evaluate one smell against another?
Adrian Jones has been involved in the perfume market for many years. This article was originally posted by him under Elizabeth Arden Perfumes at Ezinearticles.com.