Evelyn Lauder, the daughter-in-law of cosmetics magnate Estee Lauder who helped create the pink ribbon symbol for breast cancer awareness, died Saturday at her Manhattan home from complications of non-genetic ovarian cancer. She was 75.
In 1992, Lauder worked with her friend Alexandra Penney, the former editor-in-chief of Self magazine, to create the pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer awareness. It started small with Lauder and her husband, Leonard, largely financing the little bows given to women at department store makeup counters to remind them about breast exams.
That grew into fundraising products, congressional designation of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and $330 million in donations — $50 million from Estee Lauder and its partners — to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which Lauder also started.
That money helped establish the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, which opened in 2009.
She recently reflected on the campaign’s origins.
"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 so 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.
We have lost someone who made a big difference in all our lives.
Thank Evelyn, you will be missed.