War Paint: Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein- Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry

Very rarely do things I love come together so seamlessly; War Paint is a book that combines my love of biography, makeup and history perfectly.

Image: Waterstones

Image: Waterstones

The book is part biography of the two women who shaped the way we view cosmetics and a history of the industry over the late 19th- to early/mid 20th century. As I read it, I was reminded of another famous feud, that of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis (which was documented in The Divine Feud, one of my favourite books ever.) Like the two Hollywood actresses, Arden and Rubenstein were determined, formidable and driven in their business dealings. They also had a penchant for headhunting each other’s top staff. Having read the book, I’m convinced that they would have hated being written about in the same book.

I enjoyed reading about how makeup has changed and how, along with Charles Revson of Revlon, Arden and Rubenstein brought it into the mainstream. Both achieved success relatively late (in their late 30’s) and in a world where women were rarely taken seriously in business. Both also mingled with high society either side of the First World War and many famous names crop up. Their lives were glamorous, wealthy and, unbelievably, incredibly lonely.

I think, even if you weren’t a massive beauty junkie, but just interested in strong, determined women, you would enjoy this book; I couldn’t put it down!


3 thoughts on “War Paint: Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein- Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry

  1. Alice says:

    I haven’t had a chance to properly start this yet which is annoying. I go through phases of reading books and the moment I just don’t seem to have the time. I know once I start this though I won’t be able to put it down. Now I just need the time. x

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