- Helena Rubinstein
name = Helena Rubinstein
birth_name = Chaja Rubinstein
birth_date = birth date|1870|12|25|mf=y
Kraków, Austria-Hungary(now Poland)
death_date = death date and age|1965|4|1|1870|12|25|mf=y
New York City, New York
nationality = Polish-American
Helena Rubinstein (
December 25, 1870[cite book|last=Horton|first=Ros |coauthors=Horton, Rosalind|others=Simmons, Sally|title=Women Who Changed the World|publisher=Quercus|date=2007|pages=90|isbn=1-847-24026-7] [cite book|last=Barrett Litoff|first=Judy |coauthors=McDonnell, Judith |title=European Immigrant Women in the United States: A Biographical Dictionary|publisher=Taylor & Francis|date=1994|pages=259|isbn=0-824-05306-0] – April 1, 1965) was a Polish-American cosmeticsindustrialist, founder and eponymof Helena Rubinstein, Incorporated, which made her one of the world's richest women. [cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,898634-1,00.html|title=The Beauty Merchant|date=1965-04-09|publisher="Time"|accessdate=2008-08-08]
She was born Chaja Rubinstein, the eldest of eight children, to Augusta Gitte (Gitel) Scheindel Silberfeld Rubinstein and Naftali Herz Horace Rubinstein; he was a shopkeeper in Kraków. For a short time, she studied medicine in Switzerland. In 1902, she moved to Australia, opened a shop there a year later, and changed her forename to Helena. She mixed so-called medical formulas and ointments that she claimed were imported from the Carpathian Mountains. They were, in truth, concocted from an impure form of lanolin whose odor was disguised with scents of lavender, pine bark, and Nymphaeaceae|water lilies.
Diminutive at 4 ft. 10 in. (147 cm), she rapidly expanded her operation. In 1908, her sister Ceska assumed the Melbourne shop's operation, when, with $100,000, Rubinstein moved to London and began what was to become an international enterprise (Women at this time could not obtain bank loans, so the money was her own).
Marriage and children
In 1908, she married American journalist Edward William Titus in London. They had two sons, Roy Valentine Titus (London, December 12, 1909–New York, June 18, 1989) and Horace Titus (London, April 23, 1912–New York, May 18, 1958). They eventually moved to Paris where she opened a salon in 1912. Her husband helped with writing the publicity and set up a small publishing house, published "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and hired Samuel Putnam to translate Kiki's memoirs. She threw lavish dinner parties and became known for apocryphal quips, such as when an intoxicated French ambassador expressed vitriol toward Edith Sitwell and her brother Sacheverell: “Vos ancêtres ont brûlé Jeanne d’Arc!” “What did he say?," Rubinstein, who knew little French, asked a guest. “He said, ‘Your ancestors burned Joan of Arc.’ ” Rubinstein replied, "Well, someone had to do it." [cite book|last=O'Higgins|first=Patrick |title=Madame; an Intimate Biography of Helena Rubinstein|publisher=Viking Press|date=1971|pages=17]
At another fête, Marcel Proust asked her what makeup a duchess might wear. She summarily dismissed him because "he smelt of mothballs of mothballs," recollecting later, "How was I to know he was going to be famous?"cite web|url=http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_3_urbanities-czarinas.html|title=The Czarinas of Beauty|last=Kanfer|first=Stefan |publisher=city-journal.org|accessdate=2008-08-08]
Move to the United States
At the outbreak of
World War I, she and Titus moved to New York City, where she opened a salon in 1915, the forerunner of a chain throughout the country. This was the beginning of her vicious rivalry with the other great lady of the cosmetics industry, Elizabeth Arden. Both Rubinstein and Arden, who died within 18 months of each other, were social climbers. And they were both keenly aware of effective marketing and luxurious packaging, the attraction of beauticians in neat uniforms, the value of celebrity endorsements, the perceived value of overpricing and the promotion of the pseudo-science of skincare.
From 1917 on, Rubinstein took on the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of her products. The "Day of Beauty" in the various salons became a great success. The purported portrait of Rubinstein in her advertising was of a middle-age mannequin with a gentile appearance.
In 1928, she sold the American business to Lehman Brothers for $7.3 million, an enormous sum at the time when income taxes were nonexistent. After the arrival of the Great Depression, she bought back the nearly worthless stock for less than $1 million and eventually turned the shares into values of multimillion dollars, establishing salons and outlets in almost a dozen U.S. cities. Her subsequent spa at 715 Fifth Avenue (
Escadatoday) included a restaurant, a gymnasium, and rugs by Joan Miró. She commissioned Salvador Dalíto design a powder compact as well a portrait of herself.
In the late 1930s,
Mark Chagallwrote a letter of plea to Helena asking her to help his daughter Ida and son-in-law escape Nazi Germany. She refused, responding, "I don't have time, ask one of your other friends".cite quote
Divorce and remarriage
In 1937, Rubinstein divorced Titus after a contentious marriage encouraged by his infidelities. In 1938, she married Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia (1895-1955), who claimed to be of Georgian royalty. He was 23 years her junior. She named a male cosmetics line after the "prince," whose royal roots may have been bogus. Some have claimed that the marriage was a marketing ploy, including Rubinstein's being able to pass herself off as Princess Gourielli.
A multimillionaire of contrasts, Rubinstein took a bag lunch to work and was very frugal in many matters but bought top-fashion clothing and valuable fine art and furniture. Concerning art, she founded the respectable Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv. In 1953, she established the philanthropic Helena Rubinstein Foundation to provide funds to organizations specializing in health, medical research and rehabilitation as well as to the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and scholarships to Israelis.
In 1959, Rubenstein represented the U.S. cosmetics industry at the American National Exhibition in
Called "Madame" by her employees, she eschewed idle chatter, continued to be active in the corporation throughout her life, even from her sick bed, and staffed the company with her relatives.
Death and afterward
Some of her estate including African and fine art, Lucite furniture, and overwrought Victorian furniture upholstered in purple was auctioned in 1966 at the Park-Bernet Galleries in New York.
One of Rubinstein's numerous mantras is, "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones." [cite news|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01EED8133BF936A25751C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all|title=The Rivals|last=Green|first=Penelope|date=2004-02-15|publisher="The New York Times"|accessdate=2008-08-08] A scholarly study of her exclusive beauty salons and how they blurred and influenced the conceptual boundaries at the time among fashion, art galleries, the domestic interior, and versions of modernism has been explored by Marie J. Clifford ("Winterthur Portfolio", vol. 38).
*List of Poles
*Seymour Brody (author), Art Seiden (illustrator) (1956). "Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America: 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism". Hollywood, Florida: Lifetime Books, 1996. ISBN 0811908232
*Marie J. Clifford (2003). "Helena Rubinstein's Beauty Salons, Fashion, and Modernist Display," "Winterthur Portfolio," vol. 38, pp. 83–108
*Lindy Woodhead (2004). "War Paint". London: Virago Press. ISBN 1844080498
* [http://www.helenarubinstein.com/ Helena Rubinstein cosmetics]
* [http://www.helenarubinsteinfdn.org/ Helena Rubinstein Foundation]
* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/hrubinstein.html Jewish Virtual Library: Helena Rubinstein biography]
NAME= female.svg, Replace this image
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Rubinstein, Chaja
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Cosmetics company founder
DATE OF BIRTH=
December 25, 1870
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Kraków, Austria-Hungary(now Poland)
DATE OF DEATH=
April 1, 1965
PLACE OF DEATH=
New York City, New York
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Look at other dictionaries:
Helena Rubinstein — um 1930 Helena Rubinstein (* 25. Dezember 1870 in Krakau, Polen, als Chaja Rubinstein; † 1. April 1965 in New York) war eine US amerikanische Kosmetikunternehmerin, Pionierin der Kosmetikentwicklung und Mäzenin … Deutsch Wikipedia
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Helena Rubinstein — [Helena Rubinstein] (1871–1965) a US businesswoman, born in Poland, who created the famous ↑cosmetics company that carries her name. She began her business in 1902 in Australia and later opened ↑salons (= places for beauty treatments) in London,… … Useful english dictionary
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