Part 4: the London years

Helena Rubinstein wanted to encourage English women to be braver with beauty, so she opened her first institute in London where she sold her miracle cream, Valaze. It was a period of apprehension followed by success for the bold entrepreneur.

24 Grafton Street, Mayfair

When she arrived in the English capital, Helena Rubinstein felt particularly foreign. She knew nobody. One thing was sure; she wanted to open her first beauty institute in the district of Mayfair, Belgravia or Park Lane. A few weeks of research were enough for her to find the perfect address: 24 Grafton Street. Decorated by Helena Rubinstein herself, the boutique was feminine and luxurious yet understated.

Titus returns

She may have refused Titus' marriage proposal, but she couldn't stop thinking about him, and vice versa. While the institute was being renovated, Edward came to visit her in London. He showered her in compliments, and won her back. They were married in 1908. Both respected and admired the other and, while every couple has its ups and downs, theirs would – legally – last for thirty years.

A resolute success

At the end of 1908, Helena Rubinstein opened her "Maison de beauté Valaze" in London's Mayfair district. The decoration was refined and the atmosphere welcoming. Madame, dressed in a white blouse, greeted each client with a smile and would specify that her "approach to beauty was scientific". This would reassure the curious women who flocked to her salon. Helena Rubinstein would offer complimentary skincare products to the influential women who would visit. Once convinced, they returned to buy themselves the creams in large quantity. She was so successful that Helena Rubinstein started to consider the idea of a makeup line.

She always had Paris...

Her passion for her London salon inspired her to open a similar institute in Paris, the city she loved so much. During her trips to the French capital, she looked for a suitable address and used the opportunity to order clothes from fashionable French designers. Paul Poiret was one of her favorites: she admired the designer who she thought had an intelligent opinion on everything. He had freed women from corsets and replaced them with sublime garments. They clicked right away on both a professional and friendly level – he designed magnificent gowns that she would showcase in London. For several years, Madame was on the list of the "10 Best-Dressed Women in the World".

At the start of 1909, Helena Rubinstein went back to England and found out she was pregnant – news which would overturn the life and ambitions of the entrepreneur...

tag : Pioneer
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