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Florence Nightingale Graham (December 31, 1878 – October 19, 1966), who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden, was a Canadianmarker businesswoman who built a cosmetics empire in the United Statesmarker.


Arden was born in Woodbridge, Ontariomarker, Canada, where she lived until the age of 24. In 1909, she dropped out of nursing school in Torontomarker.

She then joined her elder brother in New York Citymarker, working briefly as a bookkeeper for the E.R. Squibb Pharmaceuticals Company. While there, Arden spent hours in their lab, learning about skincare. She then worked - again briefly - for Eleanor Adair, an early beauty culturist, as a "treatment girl".


In 1909 Arden formed a partnership with Elizabeth Hubbard, another culturist. When the partnership dissolved, she coined the business name "Elizabeth Arden" from her former partner and from Tennyson's poem "Enoch Arden".

In 1912 Arden travelled to Francemarker to learn beauty and facial massage techniques used in the Parismarker beauty salons. She returned with a collection of rouge and tinted powders she had created. In an era when it was generally only acceptable for entertainers to wear makeup, Arden introduced modern eye makeup to North America. She also introduced the concept of the "makeover" in her salons.

Arden collaborated with A. Fabian Swanson, a chemist, to create a "fluffy" face cream. The success of the cream, Venetian Cream Amoretta, and corresponding lotion, Arden Skin Tonic, led to a long-lasting business relationship. This revolutionized cosmetics, bringing a scientific approach to formulations. Other innovations included creating foundations that matched a person's skin tone; creating the idea of the "Total Look" in which lip, cheek, and fingernail colors matched or coordinated; and the first to make a cosmetics commercial shown in movie houses.

During World War II, Arden recognized the changing needs of the American woman entering the work force. She showed women how to apply makeup and dress appropriately for careers outside the home. She created a lipstick called Montezuma Red, for the women in the armed forces that would match the red on their uniforms. Although most of her commercial success was in cosmetics, she also pioneered restorative musical exercises based on yoga. She started a fashion business in 1943 with notable designers like Charles James and Oscar de la Renta on staff.

She began expanding her international operations in 1915, and started opening salons across the world. By the end of 1930s, it was said that "There are only three American names that are known in every single corner of the globe: Singer sewing machines, Coca Cola, and Elizabeth Arden." A fact proved by Heinrich Harrer in his book Seven Years in Tibet, where he stated that it's possible to buy Arden's products—even in Tibet. At the peak of her career, she had a salon in New Yorkmarker, Washingtonmarker, Bostonmarker, Chicagomarker, Beverly Hillsmarker, San Franciscomarker, Mainemarker, Arizonamarker, Phoenixmarker, Southhampton, Surfside, Floridamarker, Palm Beachmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Honolulumarker, Limamarker. Torontomarker, Montrealmarker, Melbournemarker, Sydneymarker, Hong Kongmarker, Singaporemarker, Johannesburgmarker, Londonmarker, Parismarker, Zurich, Viennamarker, Milanmarker, Romemarker, Cannesmarker, Madridmarker, Brusselsmarker, Copenhagenmarker, The Haguemarker, London, Ontariomarker, Cape Townmarker, Nassaumarker, Tulsamarker, Quebec Citymarker, and Biarritzmarker. She launched all of them personally and she owned all of them except the one in Paris, which she gave to her sister, Gladys, Vicomtesse de Maublanc.

From the 1930s through the 1960s, Elizabeth Arden was considered the most upscale cosmetic brand, with celebrated patrons including Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth, Queen Mother, Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Wallis Simpson and Mamie Eisenhower. The introduction of the perfume Blue Grass in 1934 was a great success. Considered the first all-American scent, it remains on the market today.

The footstone of Elizabeth Arden
named her exclusive Long Pond resort and health spa Maine Chance which catered to her wealthy clientele. At one time the Mt. Vernon, Maine resort and its operating farm produced much of the food for the spa and was a significant employer in the town.

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


Arden died in New York City in 1966 and was interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New Yorkmarker under the name Elizabeth N. Graham.

At the time of her death, her estate was worth $30 to $40 million (US) and she had over a hundred salons worldwide. A feature-length documentary film The Powder and the Glory (2009) by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman, details the rivalry between Arden and Helena Rubenstein.

Personal life

In 1915 she married Thomas J. Lewis, a banker, thus becoming an American citizen. Arden's drive for success cost her marriage to Lewis. They divorced in 1934. A second marriage to a Russianmarker prince only lasted 2 years.

Thoroughbred horse racing

Arden used the name Maine Chance Farm for her Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding operation in Lexington, Kentuckymarker. In 1931 she had bought her first horse at the Fasig-Tipton sales at the Saratoga Race Coursemarker. From 1944 on, she worked closely with Leslie Combs II who selected and purchased horses for her. However, according to a 1947 interview with the Thoroughbred Record, Combs said she had a good eye for horses herself and chose a number of successful runners on her own.

In the nineteen forties and fifties Elizabeth Arden built her Maine Chance Farm stable into a major force in American Thoroughbred horse racing. In 1945, Star Pilot and Beaugay were the Eclipse Award colt and filly champions, and her stable was the leading money-winner in the United States. In 1947 her colt Jet Pilot, trained and ridden by future Hall of Famers Tom Smith and Eric Guerin won the Kentucky Derby. Putting her on the cover of the May 6, 1946 issue of Time magazine. In 1948, she also acquired the great filly Busher as a broodmare from a spectacular auction conducted by Louis B. Mayer. Busher was not only inducted into the Hall of Fame, she ranked #40 in Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century. In 1954, her filly "Fascinator," won the Kentucky Oaks. For her contribution to the racing industry, Elizabeth Arden Graham was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.

Elizabeth Arden today

Her company was sold to Eli Lilly and Company in 1971 for $38 million. Eli Lilly and Company sold Arden to Fabergé in 1987 for $657 million.

Elizabeth Arden's cosmetics company continues to trade today, and was bought from Unilever in 2003 by FFI for $225 million, a New Yorkmarker company. They changed their name to Elizabeth Arden, and are publicly listed ( ). The past 'face' of Elizabeth Arden was Swedish supermodel Vendela Kirsebom during the late-1980s to the mid-1990s. The current 'face' of Elizabeth Arden is Catherine Zeta Jones.

The company continues to offer color coordinated make-up sets, as well as an extensive line of skin care products and treatments.

Since Arden's death, some of the company's focus has shifted to the development of a number of fragrance lines. The company's signature fragrance is called "Red Door" named after their day spas which are called "Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons". Other fragrance within their own line are "Fifth Avenue", "Green Tea", "Provocative Woman" and their newest, "Mediterranean". The company also holds the license to the Hilary Duff fragrances "With Love... Hilary Duff" and "Wrapped With Love...", and the Britney Spears fragrances "Curious", "Fantasy", "Curious: In Control", "Midnight Fantasy", "Hidden Fantasy", "Circus Fantasy", "Believe" and "Curious Heart" ; Elizabeth Taylor's "White Diamonds," "Passion," "Forever Elizabeth," and "Gardenia"; Mariah Carey's "M by Mariah Carey" and "Luscious Pink by Mariah Carey". In 2006 Elizabeth Arden acquired the fragrance portfolio from Riviera Concepts. The newly acquired brands include Alfred Sung, the Hummer fragrance franchise, Cynthia Rowley, Lulu Guinness, Bob Mackie, and Badgley Mischka.


  1. page 262, Frommer's Guide to Toronto 2004, by Hilary Davidson, ISBN 0-7645-4060-2
  • Marshall, Mary. Great Breeders and Their Methods (2008) Russell Meerdink Co. Ltd. ISBN 9780929346823
  • Woodhead, Lindy. War Paint (2004) Virago ISBN 1-84408-049-8

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