Helena Rubinstein and Patrick O'Higgins: a special relationship

During the 1950s in New York, whether it was chance or destiny, Madame caught the eye of a young Irishman, Patrick O'Higgins. Over half a century divided them, but the connection was there nonetheless. Both secretary, personal assistant and Helena Rubinstein's spiritual son, Patrick O'Higgins would never leave the entrepreneur's side.

Meeting on Madison Avenue

One winter morning, Helena Rubinstein was strolling along the New York avenue dressed in a fur coat and a black bowler hat. Her sophisticated look did not escape Patrick O'Higgins, working at the time as a journalist for the magazine Flair. Intrigued by Madame's style, he couldn't help but follow her.

On her way, Helena Rubinstein met the Italian painter and decorator Federico Pallavicini, an artist she had requested for several of her apartments. As fate would have it, Pallavicini was also the artistic director of Flair. They all said hello and, at that moment, Helena Rubinstein noticed the aura of the young journalist and noted several aspects of his appearance appreciatively, like his faded tweed vest and quality leather dress shoes. Having observed him in silence, the avant-garde businesswoman left for her office.

15 years serving Madame

They saw each other just a few weeks later during a cocktail party organized by Fleur Cowles, an key figure of New York high society. A short time after, Helena Rubinstein hired Patrick O'Higgins as her secretary. But he would become far more than that in the eyes of the pioneer: marketing director, babysitter, steward and, on a personal level, like a son.

The demanding Helena Rubinstein was won over by his flexibility, savoir-vivre, British humor and ability to speak multiple languages. Very quickly, Patrick O'Higgins became "Madame's new protégé". Despite a stormy relationship, filled with both affection and bitterness, he stayed loyal to Helena Rubinstein until 1965, 15 years after their first meeting. It was the year that the empress of beauty would pass away at the age of 93, leaving a great hole in Patrick O'Higgins' life.

tag : Pioneer
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