José & Edmond Eisenberg, Heritage
©Monaco Monsieur, September 2016
An art lover and an insatiable creator, José Eisenberg is as brilliant as endearing. His ambition? To see his eponymous brand of skin care, perfumes and makeup grow, and multiply projects alongside his son, Edmond. Crossed portraits of a prolific duo.
José Eisenberg succeeded in changing his destiny. From an insignificant maid’s room in Bucharest, to secret alcoves of a Florentine workshop, and to the terrace of the Roccabella, one of the most famous Monegasque towers, our man has managed to find his place. Starting out from scratch, but nourished by an impressive determination, he made his way through success. His weapons? His strength of character and his unconditional love for art, technology and beauty. José Eisenberg who is usually very discreet in the media, looks back over his story and the different stages that have led him to Le Rocher, in exclusivity for Monaco Monsieur. EISENBERG’s creator is a strong man, hiding a surprising gentleness one can see in the way he looks at you. From the first handshake, he inspires admiration, welcomes you in all humility and confides with ease. His son Edmond by his side and the Mediterranean Sea and Monegasque buildings in the background, José Eisenberg tells us about his versatile and eventful life, made of emotions and encounters. Even though he masterfully manages today an empire of beauty, this native of Romania grew up far away from the Monaco borders.
From Bucharest to Florence
«Three years after I was born, my family became the people’s enemy». Born in Bucarest in 1945, José Eisenberg is the son of textile manufacturers, and has been raised in poverty since the age of three. «My parents were living in a vast villa, near the king’s palace, until the day the Communists overthrew the regime in place. In an instant, everything that we owned was nationalised, we lost everything, and we found ourselves living in a 12sqm room previously for the use of the maids ». The young boy was 13 years old when he managed to flee the country with his parents. They became stateless, but a new life was awaiting them in Italy. « My story begins in Florence », calmly notes the ambitious José Eisenberg, with his faintly Slavonic accent. «I did not get the opportunity to have a genuine education, the only thing I knew was poverty; but I had the incredible chance to end up in the heart of the fashion’s world capital, born with the Renaissance. Art, fashion, beauty, technology… Florence is Leonardo da Vinci’s city, the cradle of artistic creation». Hired at first as an apprentice in an art restoration workshop, José Eisenberg completes one humble task after another. «I would be sent to buy cigarettes or newspapers… but beauty always came across my way. I was immersed into the heart of Florentine creation from the late 50’s». He did not continue his education at the university, but rather in the streets, with craftsmen.
Although Haute Couture was not part of his priorities, it is through this artistic expression that José Eisenberg started to earn his living. «At the age of 22, I was drawing sketches for the greatest Italian prêt-à-porter houses. But at the time, Italy – just like France – was facing the May 1968 crisis. Manufacturing factories were blocked. Everything was ticking over». As he was determined to impose himself, José Eisenberg took shelter in the smallest region of Italy, Basilicata. «This place was so poor that even the mafia did not want it», says the designer with irony. « Starting with a small workshop, then a factory and several seamstresses, we could supply the finest names in the world of Haute Couture… Afterwards, we expanded until we became a true industry. In 1972, I was employing more than 75,000 local inhabitants». Confident that he was on the right track, the entrepreneur decided not to stop there and answered retailers’ calls. «Otto Versand, a German company and worldwide leader in distance selling, contacted us. They asked me to draw new models for their catalogues». Quelle, Neckermann, Les 3 Suisses and many others became his clients. They started to produce millions of pieces, which coloured the dressing rooms of the important European capitals. As a result, the President of the Italian Republic awarded José Eisenberg as honorary citizen at the age of 27. «From my stateless status and rejected by my homeland’s regime, I became honorary citizen in Italy». An incredible turnaround. A dazzling success.
Experience across the Atlantic
Without neglecting his first passions, José Eisenberg invested in 1974 his talent and capital into new technologies. A new challenge and new projects. And a new story that led him to create JE Contrex in Boston. There, he recruited about ten MIT researchers (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Two years later, 120 scientists were working on artificial intelligence: an electronic eye able to replace a human one. Even though the research was conclusive, technology trailed behind and the computers back then were not efficient enough. «The eye was working, but recognition was too slow. Commercially, this was not viable. This business was another challenge, and I invested a lot of money and much of my time into this project». In José Eisenberg’s vocabulary, the word «failure» does not exist and nothing can stop him. He launched a new company, the Eisenberg Data Systems (EDS), and produced personal computers using their own software. EDS developed internationally until IBM arrived onto the market. His passion for technology partly satisfied, the insatiable creative mind continued to put his ambition at the service of beauty. While all professionals of this sector worked on animal stem cells, the Monaco resident rather concentrated on how to combine the best of nature and science. For thirteen years, about ten scientists endeavoured to discover what José Eisenberg would eventually call «The Trio-Molecular® Formula»: a combination of natural molecules, which regenerate the skin. The results were significant and, once the pharmacological, medical and cosmetological tests were approved, the brand was ready to be launched.
Art, beauty, technology. Though introducing a new brand and moved moving into a new market, José Eisenberg abandoned none of his passions. Quite the opposite, they are part of the brand’s DNA. Far from being an ordinary brand of cosmetics, this company has a soul. Besides beauty products, the L’Art du Parfum collection added an even more artistic notion since 2010. What is the secret of this fragrance collection? The “love at first sight” between José Eisenberg and Brazilian painter Juarez Machado. «I discovered his work for the first time in an art gallery in Saint Paul de Vence. I immediately and madly fell in love with his art». Thereafter, the collector contacted the artist and commissioned him for a special order. «My dream was to live in Venice in the 1700’s», tells José Eisenberg. Juarez Machado accepted the challenge. It took a year, and several round trips between Monaco and Paris, for his dream canvas to come true. «This is where I understood that a person able to accept so many changes would be as crazy as I am!», says the art lover with a smile. As a result, both men became friends. And it is by his side that he imagined the pictures illustrating each of his fragrances, which bear names such as Back to Paris, Tentation…
Eisenberg Paris reflects its creator’s personality: vibrant, artistic, subtle and versatile. « To work with us, you have to live the brand », notes the CEO. Who then better than his son, Edmond Eisenberg, to make it grow? The father and son who have similar clear and luminous eyes and the same elegance, are working in total harmony. It only takes a few minutes to feel the complicity between the two men, and to discover the many traits of character that Edmond inherited from his father. What about women? He loves them as much as his father. «I see a lot of beauty in different women. I idealise women in general, but I do not appreciate only one type of woman…». It is through music that this art lover expresses himself since his childhood. A pianist, virtuoso violin-player and composer, the young man also studied theatrical art in London while he was completing his International Business education. What is his role? Working in pairs with his father, putting his creativity into the development of the family brand. «Since he was born, Edmond has been prepared to pursue the brand expansion». And his son adds: « We do not want partners, neither go public. We want to remain a Monegasque limited company». As a representative of the new generation, Edmond also takes part in the brand positioning online and on social media, as well as in the global strategy. «We live the brand day after day. And let me say that the best school is the university of life. Sharing everyday my father’s experience and knowledge is an incredible chance. This is where I have learned the most ». What about the future? Many projects in Monaco and abroad, still in the beauty world and new lines. The EISENBERG duo should no doubt be talked about widely in the future.