Passings are usually sad, but Evelyn Lauder's death has left the world stunned and enormously saddened - not just the world of fashion, beauty, and business, but the world of men and women, famous and not-so-famous, who responded to her calls for breast cancer awareness. She is credited with the Pink Ribbon Campaign - the pink ribbons that symbolized over $350 million in donations - with at least $50 million from the Estée Lauder Companies and its partners. That money helped establish the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
In her long career as an executive at cosmetics giant Estée Lauder Cos., the company founded by her mother-in-law, Lauder worked with many shades of red, peach, bronze, and even blues, but pink was the one hue that changed her life. - Associated Press
Evelyn Lauder died yesterday at age 75. She was with her family at her home in Manhattan. Although she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, few knew. She refused to slow down and was reluctant to discuss her own situation. Then, in 2007, she was diagnosed with the ovarian cancer that took her life.
Just last month, the most recent Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she reminisced about the early days of the breast cancer campaign. “There had been no publicity about breast cancer, but a confluence of events - the pink ribbon, the color, the press, partnering with Elizabeth Hurley, having Estee Lauder as an advertiser in magazines, and persuading so many of my friends who are health and beauty editors to do stories about breast health - got people talking,” she said. Then, three years after distributing the first pink ribbon, a flight attendant noted it on Lauder’s lapel and said, “I know that’s for breast cancer.” “From there, it became ubiquitous,” she remembered. That was the genius of the campaign. The pink ribbon became a worldwide symbol of breast health.
Evelyn Lauder was also the Senior Corporate Vice President and head of Estée Lauder's fragrance development worldwide. In her honor today, I'll be wearing Estée Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. Rest in peace, Evelyn Lauder. You left the world a better place. My deepest sympathy to her husband, Leonard Lauder, her sons, the whole family, and all of her friends and colleagues.
Photos by Barbara Alper, courtesy of the New York Times, and Estée Lauder