War Paint

War Paint

by Lindy Woodhead

Overview: A fascinating dual biography of the women who founded today's beauty industry. They were both born in the nineteenth century in humble circumstances—Helena Rubinstein in an orthodox Jewish household in Kraków, Poland, Elizabeth Arden on a farm outside Toronto. But by the 1930s, they were bitter rivals in New York, the rulers of dueling international beauty empires that would forever change the way women thought about cosmetics, salons, and wrinkles. This riveting biography brings these two celebrated women to life, revealing the ruthless drive and innovative business strategies that took each to the top. Along the way, it offers an intriguing look at their personal idiosyncrasies (Rubinstein collected art, Arden racehorses), their checkered marriages, and the rarefied social milieu in which they both traveled.

Linda Smither (09/17/18): This was a really fascinating book. Both women got their start in the 1920's and were fierce rivals who never met one another. Both started from nothing and became global successes and multi-millionaires. Besides being an interesting biography, the book covers the cosmetic, beauty and fashion industry in depth. I learned a lot about the origins of market strategies aimed at women, most of these ploys are still used today. Also mentioned are a lot of high profile people who ran in the social and business circles of these 2 women. There are too many to mention, but you will recognize many names and their humble beginnings. Apparently, I am not the only who loved this book - it was the inspiration for a Broadway musical of the same name.
Rating: ****

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