American cosmetics company. Established in 1877 by Harriet Hubbard Ayer. At the start of her career she was Elizabeth Arden’s business partner. She then became a fierce competitor to Arden and Helena Rubinstein. The company’s headquarters in rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré was a hotel in the 1700s, furnished by the architect, Jean Pascaud. At the death of Harriet, the company was taken over by Liliane Dodge. During the 1940s she created two perfumes that remained her only unique creations, Je Chante and Malgré Tout. In 1950 Unilever USA acquired the company, and moved the headquarters a few blocks away to large premises once occupied by Worth. From 1955 to 1975 the best names of the international jetset gathered in these premises, from the Duchess of Windsor to Brigitte Bardot. Ayer’s products have been diffused in more than 70 countries. In 1978 the company was sold to a German distributor.