The Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan was filled to the brim with beauty industry executives who gathered for the tenth annual WWD Beauty Inc Awards breakfast on Thursday, which hit an emotional high note early in the program when William Lauder, executive chairman of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., accepted the first Corporate Social Responsibility Award on behalf of his recently deceased mother, Evelyn.
“It’s a bittersweet honor,” said William Lauder. “My mother was a great influence to many of us. The example she set, the standard she set for us and her inspiration is something that will keep us all motivated.”
The crowd’s response was a standing ovation as William’s father, Lauder’s chairman emeritus, Leonard Lauder, watched from the audience.
The early morning event acknowledged the industry’s most innovative ideas, initiatives and products for 2011.
Among the other attendees were Fabrizio Freda, Lauder’s president and chief executive officer; Terry Lundgren, chairman and ceo of Macy’s Inc.; Bernd Beetz, Coty’s ceo, Frédéric Rozé, president and ceo of L’Oréal USA; Bill Gentner, president and ceo of Kao Brands Co.; Pamela Baxter, president and ceo of LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics; Alexander Bolen, ceo of Oscar de la Renta; Ingrid Jackel, chairman and ceo of Physicians Formula Holdings Inc.; John Demsey, Lauder group president; Lynne Greene, global president for Clinique, Origins and Ojon; Terry Darland, president of Christian Dior Parfums North America; Jane Hertzmark Hudis, global brand president of Estée Lauder, David Greenberg, president of Maybelline, Garnier and Essie; Christine Daggousset, senior vice president of marketing at Chanel Fragrance and Beauté, and Peter Lichtenthal, president of Bumble and bumble.
Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, the honorary chairman of L’Oréal, was this year’s Visionary Award recipient. Although he was unable to attend the breakfast, he spoke to the crowd via video about his journey at L’Oréal, namely how he helped transform the “very French company” into a global beauty player. He also took a moment to pay tribute to Evelyn Lauder and last year’s Visionary Award winner, Leonard Lauder.
“It takes a great deal of patience and humility to penetrate the mysteries of other countries,” said Owen-Jones, who attributed much of L’Oréal’s growth to its entry into previously closed markets in Asia and the former Soviet Union in the early Nineties. “After years of famine there was immense demand behind the former iron curtain and L’Oréal was delighted to satisfy.”
Owen-Jones added that his vision for a multinational, multichannel and multicultural brand has been his goal since his early years at the company.
“My dream was to conquer vast new territories and put the perfect product into millions of women’s hands,” he said. “International expansion profoundly enriched L’Oréal’s expertise; broadening our horizons, sharpening our approaches and refining our offerings.”
Accepting the award for Owen-Jones was his daughter, Celeste.
“My father is extremely passionate about what he does,” she said. “When he believes in something, he will do everything he can to make it happen. He’s so sorry he couldn’t make it today. He wanted me to tell you that America, and especially New York, hold a very special place in his heart and his New York years were some of the best of his life.”