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Crème Valaze at the National

On Sunday 12 February from 2pm, join Portrait Gallery Director Angus Trumble as he reveals how one Polish-Yiddish-Melbourne woman, the extraordinary Helena Rubinstein, conquered the world.

Helena Rubinstein is regarded as the first self-made millionairess of modern times. She had a genius for business and created the first publicly-listed global cosmetics corporation. She grasped from the outset that her products needed to be expensive; that working women thirsted for luxury, and would pay for it. Her products also needed to be seen as “scientifically formulated in the laboratory,” and obviously they needed to work.

Within fifteen years she created an unprecedented mass market; she built and supervised factories, and tightly controlled every aspect of her brand.

When at the age of 85, at the height of her power and wealth, Helena Rubinstein sat in Paris for this fine, larger than life-sized portrait by Graham Sutherland, he persuaded her to wear a red brocade gown designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga. Although by her own account, even in high heels, Helena Rubinstein stood at not quite four foot ten, Sutherland thought she looked like an empress. In a way he was quite right.

Helena Rubinstein by Graham Sutherland

Helena Rubinstein by Graham Sutherland

This is a free event with no bookings required. Find out more on the NPG website.

Happening at the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday 12 February from 2pm – 3pm.


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