There was a mob scene yesterday afternoon at the Neiman Marcus store at NorthPark, where Estee Lauder scion Leonard Lauder, 81, and actress/model Elizabeth Hurley, the cosmetics company’s 49-year-old “brand ambassador,” turned up to launch a new Estee Lauder in-store shop. The throng packed excitedly into the first-floor cosmetics area included not just customers, but about every fashionista-blogger/writer sort in town. Everyone was jousting to get close to the coolly regal Hurley—she’d be perfectly cast as a British princess type—and to Leonard. It was his mother, Estee Lauder, who founded the eponymous, $10.4 billion (2013 sales) “prestige cosmetics” empire in 1946.
With a roughly $8 billion fortune, multiple homes, and the world’s largest collection of Cubist paintings, Leonard was recently dubbed New York City’s “hottest bachelor” by the New York Post. “I am a bachelor. But I am not hot,” Lauder said yesterday with a grin. “I was hotter when I was your age. But, the important thing is that life goes on. The important thing is to laugh, and to live.” A few minutes later, the company’s chairman emeritus stepped to a raised podium and told the big crowd that Neiman Marcus is “my favorite store in the world. … This is where style and fashion were born in the U.S.”
His mother first came to Neiman’s in Dallas some 65 years ago, Lauder said, when she was still aiming to convince the store to carry her cosmetics. Shunted off to an assistant buyer, he recalled, Estee sat the buyer down and made up her face with Lauder products. The woman “emerged glamorous”—and Neiman’s made the decision to carry Estee’s line.
“Why am I fond of Dallas?” Leonard went on. “Turn to the left. Turn to the right. Look at the people in this crowd, and you’ll see why I love Dallas and why I love Neiman’s.” With that, he asked Hurley to join him at the podium. “Look at her!” Leonard exclaimed. “See how beautiful she is! And, do you know why? It’s because of Estee Lauder beauty products.” Hurley, who’s been associated with the brand since the 1990s, thanked Leonard and said, “He’s my American daddy!” She too paid homage to Dallas women—”I always felt the most glamorous ladies in America are from Dallas”—before saying how glad she was that Leonard’s mother had come here 65 years ago and convinced Neiman’s to buy her wares.
The talking over, Neiman’s officials presented Hurley with a dozen yellow roses. Leonard was given a white cowboy hat. Then the pair stepped down into the throng, posing for photos and mingling with the bloggers and the writers and the crush of onlookers, each vying to catch the celebrities’ eye. One man handed Hurley an old copy of Maxim magazine she was in—the cover headline read, “Yeah Baby”— and she obliged him with an autograph. When last seen, Maxine Trowbridge, the editor-in-chief of PaperCity Dallas, had persuaded Hurley to stand next to her in front of a Neiman/Lauder backdrop. A photographer was clacking away, capturing the two of them, together, for posterity’s sake.