ELIZABETH AND TOMMY
New York 1920–1926
ELIZABETH’S OBJECTIVE WAS TO open salons in Europe and Tommy’s was to see the Elizabeth Arden brand established in prestige department stores in America – both set about their tasks, although not necessarily together. Miss Arden had been virtually commuting to Europe between 1920 and 1924, with Tommy remaining in New York, but whilst he was head of the wholesale division he could never encroach on his wife’s sacred turf – her salons. By 1924, both Bond Street and rue de la Paix were established, and thanks to the support of Elizabeth’s new friend in London, the well connected interior decorator, Lady Islington, who supervised the purchase of rugs, chandeliers and antiques for Bond Street, the anchor clientele was part of the smart set.
With Mr Haslam plotting a chart for European expansion, salons were opened in Biarritz, Cannes, Monte Carlo and le Touquet, Rome and Berlin. These elegant resorts and cities were a natural haven for Arden’s clientele, and with the US dollar buying a lot of francs, France was a favoured destination for affluent Americans. Travelling on the great liners like the Ile de France, the Leviathan, the Majestic or the Mauritania was the ultimate in chic leisure activity. Travellers could relax, swim, play deck-sports, dance – and drink. When the gangplank lifted in New York, Prohibition was left behind, and the trip to France was a week-long cocktail party. At their destination, Miss Arden ensured there was one of her famous Red Doors waiting to greet them.
Tommy Lewis made himself very useful to his wife in the first half of the 1920s and is largely credited with creating the strong wholesale market for the brand. He had an appealing personality, a sunny sense of humour