Why Elizabeth Arden Picked Reese Witherspoon to Be the Brand's New 'Storyteller in Chief'

Someone who exemplifies its founder's glamour and achievement

Though she died in 1966, cosmetics pioneer Elizabeth Arden and the eponymous brand she created before women even had the right to vote have been in the spotlight in recent months thanks to War Paint, a musical about the parallel career tracks of Arden and Helena Rubinstein, who together built the modern beauty industry. Perhaps not surprisingly, it really wasn’t until the show opened on Broadway last summer that the public learned just how remarkable both women were—especially Arden, one of five children born to a farm family in Ontario, Canada, who learned about skin creams while working as a nurse. By 1908, Arden was working as a beautician’s assistant in New York and, two years later, opened her first store on Fifth Avenue. Arden was a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, pioneered the in-store makeover and created a company that Revlon acquired last year for a reported $419 million.