Circa 1936: Helena Runinstein’s emporium designed by Harold Sterner at 715 Fifth Avenue. Contrasting with severely modern architecture, neo-Baroque and Victorian flourishes of the decor were at the vanguard of taste. The 1830’s alabaster vases across from a neo-Classical work by de Chirico, inspired couturier Charles James, who used similar urns with a ‘boquet’ of a length of silk in his own atelier
Lisa Fonssagrives posing with sculpture. Photographed at Helena Rubenstein’s apartment for Harper’s Bazaar by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1945.
Helena Rubinstein (born Chaja Rubinstein, 1872-1965) was a Polish-born American business magnate. A cosmetics entrepreneur, she was the founder and eponym of Helena Rubinstein Incorporated cosmetics company, which made her one of the world’s richest women.
I just finished the War Paint book by Lindy Woodhead (which is extremely well written, I highly recommend it) and I am so enchanted by the real Helena Rubinstein. She was tiny, brilliant, shy, controlling, quick to anger, and miserly but she was also silly, witty, essentially kind, friendly, and endlessly quotable. She was modern and proud to be a powerful woman. She had a deep passion for art. She had all kinds of catchphrases and eccentricities that just charmed the pants off of everyone she interacted with.
Elizabeth Arden, on the other hand, was kind of a dick.
She my enemy and my would be equal
Dueling actresses in our haunting sequel
Though if only we could pool our knowledge
Make an armistice and hold the fort in place
With chaos reigning down upon us
Could we reach beyond the mirror and time and space
And wipe away the mask of makeup?
Just us two talking face to face.
“Face to Face” in War Paint, where two entrepreneur rivals meditate on whether an alliance is possible.