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Chapter 14: the launch of a new boutique for men in New York, 1955

To stay ahead of the men's skincare sector, Helena Rubinstein decided to modernize the Gourielli boutique with the aim of completing her mission to open a beauty salon for men in New York. To do this, she surrounded herself with high-ranking members of society and her loyal secretary, Patrick O'Higgins. While competition was fierce in the mid-1950s, Madame - a talented strategist - pushed out all the stops to get to the top spot.

Renovation of the Gourielli boutique

The neglected Gourielli boutique was costing Helena Rubinstein a lot of money. As a solution, the entrepreneur decided to renovate the space with the help of Elinor McVickar, the ex Editor-in-Chief of Harper's Bazaar. Always on top of trends, she created a more discreet interior design featuring white marble, steel and copper, including a hair salon and a sauna. The goal: to make this elegant space the go-to location for New York gentlemen.

They quickly contacted the press. Patrick O'Higgins organized excellent publicity, notably in the Herald Tribune, as well as a three-page spread in Life magazine. Helena, seen as a visionary, featured in numerous articles praising her ambition and her ability to anticipate the needs of the male gentility.

The boutique's opening

The much-awaited opening brought together the most famous faces of the capital: Salvador Dali, Truman capote, Vidal, the Gabor sisters, even Helena - hospitalized during the renovation works - made a surprise appearance. Dressed in an outfit inspired by Russian folklore and bedecked in her finest jewels, the pioneer was lauded by her entourage. Highly moved, she was touched by their praise, proud as ever.

But, despite celebrities rushing to get to her beauty salon, it seemed that Helena was ahead of her time, and didn't achieve the success she was hoping for. Gourielli skincare was later redeveloped under the name of Rubinstein.

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