by Angela Himsel

The Powder and The Glory

Small of stature, Helena Rubinstein, neé Chaja Rubinstein (4’10”) and Elizabeth Arden, neé Florence Nightingale Graham (5’2”) pressed a long-lasting, red-rouged imprint into the 20th century and beyond. PBS’s recent documentary “The Powder and the Glory” offered an intimate look at their personal and professional lives, and their lifelong rivalry. Rubinstein was a philanthropist, an art collector, and an early supporter of the State of Israel, where she founded the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Contemporary Art. Arden, an Episcopalian, Canadian immigrant, was passionate about thoroughbred horses. Each woman’s products were representative of the woman herself: a pink-clad Arden cultivated a feminine, elite clientele. The boldly dressed Rubenstein used her flair for the dramatic often, dropping small bottles of the “Heaven Scent” fragrance from the top of Bonwit Teller’s Fifth Avenue store and using kohl to line the eyes of movie icon Theda Bara.

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