Ugly Beauty: Helena Rubinstein, L'Oréal, and the Blemished History of Looking Good

By Ruth Brandon

From acclaimed novelist and cultural historian Ruth Brandon comes an enthralling twin biography of the mythical founders of the cosmetics undefined, Helena Rubinstein and Eugène Schueller, writer of L’Oréal. Brandon’s gripping and infrequently demanding tale of gender, energy, and politics stretches again from the darkest days of global conflict II, to the emergence of the fashionable type and make-up industries, with magazines corresponding to Vogue and Cosmopolitan and game-changing product strains akin to Avon and Mary Kay. Ugly good looks resonates to boot with its implications for contemporary tradition, as we input an period whilst high fashion and cosmetology exert an ever extra robust effect upon society at huge.

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Schueller’s trajectory, so infrequent in France, could have raised no eyebrows in the US. And his hero used to be certainly American—the motor vehicle mogul Henry Ford. Ford, like Schueller, directed a few of his earnings into social services—housing, education, hospitals—for the families of his staff. Like Schueller, he was once involved that those subventions should be used properly—that is, used as Ford idea most sensible. Like Schueller he was a political idealist, the idealism, in his case, taking the shape of pacifism. (In 1915, his Peace send initiative attempted vainly to carry international struggle I to an finish. ) And, like Schueller, he had an monetary dada—in Ford’s case, the five-dollar day, his target being to make sure that each of his employees may perhaps manage to pay for to shop for certainly one of his vehicles. while Ford instituted the five-dollar day in 1914, it looked like an act of reckless generosity. in reality it paid for itself handsomely as greater wages resulted in higher health and wellbeing and morale, and for this reason elevated production. however it was once no longer, in perform, as hassle-free because it sounded. You could earn 5 cash an afternoon, in the event you labored uncomplainingly at the construction strains Ford had equipped and led the type of existence he idea you have to lead: no longer smoking or ingesting (Ford did neither), and putting a few of your cash into reductions. Ford created a Sociological division to teach and check out his employees, and choose how a lot every one guy will be awarded. You didn’t must be a respectably married nonsmoking teetotaller to work at Ford’s. yet you wouldn’t earn 5 money an afternoon except you have been, any more than Schueller’s staff may see their proportion of gains until eventually their families have been qualified as dwelling “properly. ” Schueller used to be an exceptional admirer of Ford, and his economic and social theories have been seriously motivated via Fordism. forty-one And Fordism resulted in a specific type of politics. in contrast to such a lot businessmen, whose curiosity of their employees ceased as soon as they had left the plant, Ford and Schueller’s type of prolonged paternalism effectively grew to become their companies into mini–welfare states. And within the chaotic world of the Twenties and thirties, it appeared logical that what labored for his or her businesses may also paintings within the wider political area. Ford first dipped his ft into political waters in 1918. He ran for the us Senate, as a Democrat, yet used to be defeated in a viciously corrupt crusade. In 1923 there has been speak of drafting him to run for president. yet he hated public conversing rather a lot, and was once so undesirable at it, that after his one and in simple terms failed test at a political rally, he made up our minds by no means again to chance a similar humiliation. “I can lease an individual to speak for me that knows how,” he acknowledged. “That speaking factor is a present. I’m pleased I by no means got it, and I’ll by no means attempt back. ”42 Nor did he need to. Why humiliate himself on the hustings while he may well perform his theories upon a captive viewers and a captive inhabitants?

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