Interesting People Elizabeth Arden

Published on November 2nd, 2009 | by Yellow Magpie


Elizabeth Arden: A Pioneering Woman

‘I want to be the richest little woman in the world’, these were the words of Elizabeth Arden, the pioneering woman who brought cosmetics to American Women.

When Elizabeth made that quote, she had no notion how she would fulfil her dream, but fulfil it she did, leaving a legacy that will last for years to come.

Elizabeth Arden Photo By Alan Fisher

Elizabeth Arden Photo By Alan Fisher

Birth Of A Legend

Elizabeth Arden was born in the village of Woodbridge, Ontario, on December 31, 1878, to William Graham and Suzan Tadd Graham. She was christened Florence Nightingale Graham, after the famous nurse of the 19th century.

Florence’s mother died when she was just six years old which had a profound effect on her growing up. With the result she feared close relationships for the rest of her life.

Early Career

When she was in her twenties, Florence decided to follow in the footsteps of her namesake and went to study nursing in Toronto. However, the nursing profession wasn’t for her and she later dropped out, but not before learning something about facial creams.

In the hospital she met a man who was experimenting with a cream to help heal blemishes. Florence took this idea back home to Woodbridge, where she began to experiment in the family kitchen. However, her father soon got tired of all the procedures and ordered her to get a ‘proper job’.

Elizabeth Arden Toronto Circa 1900

Elizabeth Arden Toronto Circa 1900

Elizabeth Arden And New York

Florence then took a series of non-descript jobs which didn’t inspire her, so she moved to New York where she felt there would be more opportunities for her to succeed. She loved New York and what it had to offer.

She soon got a job as a bookkeeper at E.R. Squibb Pharmaceutical Company. While she was there she spent a lot of time in their laboratory, learning all she could about skincare.

On leaving Squibbs, Florence got a job in a beauty parlour owned by Eleanor Adair, working as a cashier.

Never one to waste her time, she asked Eleanor if she could learn to do some of the treatments. After that it wasn’t long before Florence became a favourite with the clientele.

Elizabeth Arden And Broadway New York 1900

Elizabeth Arden And Broadway New York 1900

Her First Business

Florence then went into business with Elizabeth Hubbard, a beauty culturist, opening what was to be her first beauty salon, but the partnership didn’t last and Florence became the sole owner of the salon.

Soon after the split from Hubbard, Florence changed her name to Elizabeth Arden, Elizabeth she took from her former partner because the name was already in gold lettering over the door, and Arden from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson called ‘Enoch Arden’.

She then added what was to become her trademark, a large red door with her nameplate in brass. Elizabeth Arden had arrived.


In 1912 Arden went to France to study facial massage. She was amazed by what she saw, women wearing rouge, lipstick and mascara. She soon realized that when these were applied with care, they had a stunning effect on the facial features of the wearer. She studied in many beauty salons in Paris, before returning home to Canada.

What Elizabeth Arden's Paris Of 1912 Looked Like

On her return, she began to create her own range of creams and she enlisted the help of pharmacist, A. Fabian Swanson, to create a fluffy face cream. She called the cream Venetian Cream Amaretta. Working together they also created the Arden Skin Tonic.

At the time the only women in North America wearing make-up were those performing on stage. Arden began to show women how to apply make-up and how to dress for a career outside the home. Meanwhile more and more of her beauty salons began to spring up.

She also turned her hand to pioneering restorative musical exercises which were based on yoga. In 1943, continually diversifying her business, Arden branched into fashion with designers Charles James and Oscar de la Renta.


In 1915, Elizabeth Arden married Thomas Jenkins Lewis, a banker, who took over the running of the business. The marriage didn’t last though and she divorced him in 1934.

Marriage to second husband, Prince Michael Eylanoff, was equally unsuccessful and also ended in divorce in 1944.

She never married again, instead she developed a new passion, horseracing. But always the business woman, Arden turned her love of horses into a successful business. She opened Maine Chance Stables and by 1945 she had won $589,000 from her horses. In 1947 her horse Jet Pilot, won the Kentucky Derby.


Elizabeth Arden died in New York in 1966, she was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York, under the name Elizabeth N.Graham. She left an estate worth up to $40 million and hundreds of beauty salons all over the world.

Further Reading

Check out Yellow Magpie’s Elizabeth Arden Quotes: What The Trend-setter Felt to find out what she thought about men, women and the Queen.

War Paint: Madame Helena Rubinstein and Miss Elizabeth Arden Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry is an excellent book by Lindy Woodhead charting the fierce rivalry between two of the most successful women in the cosmetic industry. Although Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein would never admit it, they were remarkably similar.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom you can access War Paint: Madame Rubinstein And Miss Elizabeth Arden here:
For those living in Canada you can obtain War Paint: Madame Rubinstein And Miss Elizabeth Arden from here.
For Germany: War Paint: Madame Rubinstein And Miss Elizabeth Arden.
For France: War Paint: Madame Rubinstein And Miss Elizabeth Arden.

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