Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Similar, but not quite the same

The founders of the beauty business were three self-styled czarinas who built their castles in New York City. Here, each professed to be very different from (and, of course, far superior to) her rivals. Actually, they bore such an extraordinary resemblance to one another that they might have emerged from a modern gothic novel, concocted by a singularly imaginative author. - taken from The Czarinas of Beauty by Stefan Kanfer.

The three were Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, and Estée Lauder. And, they were very similar in many respects. As Kanfer states, each was a short, hyper-ambitious, social-climbing saleswoman who loved wealth, invented her past, dumped her husband when he seemed a drag on her career, peddled emollients and powders that promised eternal youth, and dined out on her aphorisms.

Of the three, it was Madame Rubinstein (December 25, 1871 – April 1, 1965) who possessed the most flair. Not only in business, but in every expression of her personal style. From her magnificent collection of jewels to her choice of interior decoration, she had that something extra the other two ladies lacked - an innate sense of grandeur.

She famously said, There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.
She was half right.

Graham Sutherland
Helena Rubinstein in a red-brocade Balenciaga gown, 1957
Helena Rubinstein Foundation

The foyer of Madame Rubinstein's salubrious apartment at 635 Park Avenue, designed by J. E. R. Carpenter.
The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter

Dining Room with Dali Mural
The image ran in the April 1948 House & Garden.
Conde Nast

Marie Laurencin
Helena Rubinstein wearing a yellow shawl, 1934
Helena Rubinstein Foundation

Helena Rubinstein: Over the Top

Now playing: Rufus Wainwright - Beauty Mark
via FoxyTunes


Pigtown-Design said...

Looks like an interesting book! You're just a font of knowledge!

HOBAC said...

PD - it is one of my favourites. I never seem to tire of it.