Not only did her wildly successful beauty empire employ 30,000 people, making her one of the richest women in America at the time, but she was also an extremely stylish, fiercely saucy taste maker.
1. There was the lucite bed. That was lit from within. Ohmygod, I'm practically hyperventilating as I type this. The ability to work a light up plastic bed with dignity (and of course lots of Baroque flourishes— always a fan) is admirable. It was said that her style was a cross between "Byzantium and the flea market." I rather like that mix.
Among the shimmer of the Venetian mirrors, serendipitous kitsch, and treasure-laden vitrines, the pièce de résistance was what all Rubstein initiates refer to with delight as the "plastic bed." Created out of Lucite by Rubenstein's package designer Ladislas Medgyes (who had previously used the material for powder boxes), the transparent bed lit up by means of hidden fluorescent bulbs. When Madame reposed upon it, the effect was of a transfiguration upon a crystal sleigh.While Rubenstein loved her bed, it puzzles me that she did NOT feel the same about Cecil Beaton's transformation of her gothic style picture gallery into a "Japanese inspired bamboo folly."
2. This skirt...
4. And of course, the deliciously juicy Knightsbridge residence by David Hicks, in shades of purple and magenta, inspired by a favorite Balenciaga dress, and a cosmetics palette:
I don't run around calling everyone a style inspiration, but Helena Rubenstein, I welcome you with open arms, flashing lights, and Lucite confetti candles!
Scans from House & Garden, November 1992, "The Reign of Helena Rubenstein" by Amy Fine Collins