The Powder & the Glory

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'The Powder & the Glory' tells a story of women's entrepreneurship through the lens of the creation and development of the rival business empires of Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. When they first opened their shops 100 years ago, cosmetics were worn primarily by prostitutes and performers, and businesses were run mostly by men. These two indomitable immigrants changed all that and transformed the way we look at ourselves. Starting from nothing in one of the few fields open to them, these creative women pioneered what is today the $150 billion global health and beauty industry. At the same time, they were feisty rivals. Although they lived and worked only blocks apart in New York for over 50 years, by design they never met. Whenever one launched a successful product, the other sought to outdo her rival with a bigger success, and as soon as possible. Their competing companies defined the business of beauty, making cosmetics both newly respectable and, finally, indispensable. Along the way they developed many advertising and marketing techniques that became part of the business landscape, and they themselves became household names and cultural icons. Their influence extended beyond the realm of cleansing creams and face powders to encompass trends in art, architecture and popular culture.

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