PaperCity Magazine

May 2014 - Houston

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HONORING HOFFMAN. As a Polish émigré, Helena was deeply enamored with the work of Viennese succession member Josef Hoffman. Hoffmann No. 135 salad set $1,600, at DOMINIQUE DE MENIL Dominique and her husband, Jean de Menil (who later Anglicized his name to John) co-founded Houston's cultural jewel, The Menil Collection. The Schlumberger heiress was chummy with Renée Magritte, Charles James, Philip Johnson and Mark Rothko, among others. Famously focused and devoted to art's advancement in Houston, she was a cerebral but elegant individual who successfully incorporated progressive arts programming into the collegiate communities of St. Thomas, and Rice University, and eventually tapping Renzo Piano to imagine her own permanent repository for the 17,000-piece collection she famously began by commissioning Magritte to depict John. Seth Vaughan HELENA RUBENSTEIN It's hard to distinguish which part of Helena Rubenstein's life is more impressive. Is it how she single-handedly created a multi-billion-dollar cosmetics empire by scenting a byproduct of sheep's wool with pine bark — and claiming a Carpathian derivation when, in fact, she was making it in the stockroom of her Australian shop. Or does the real acclaim come from her wildly imaginative collection of fine and decorative arts (ranging from Brancusi to Jansen), couture (Paul Poiret, Charles Worth, Cristobal Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent) and jewels (famously, a platinum and sapphire hand ornament resembling a starfish that once belonged to the great Sarah Bernhardt). Twenty-seven portraits were painted of Helena by well-known artists, many of which reside in museums. Meticulously groomed, when her Île Saint-Louis hôtel particulier was robbed, she refused to leave until entirely turned out in Balenciaga tortue coat, Hermès lizard-skin pocket book (with silk scarf) and a spotless pair of kidskin gloves. Savvy to the aspirational powers of style and beauty, she inspired an entire generation of women to reimagine beauty in their own likeness. Seth Vaughan MAY | PAGE 25 | 2014 ST. SATCHEL. This monastic bag from Céline would certainly have passed muster with Dominique. calfskin handbag with suede lining $2,950, at Neiman Marcus. AWESOME AND AUSTERE. Hermès blouse, skirt and belt, price upon request, at the Hermès boutique. BROAD STROKES. Céline jacquard top $2,700; skirt $2,300, Gazar collar $730, all at EAU DE LIVRE. Dominique famously kept a never-ending assortment of reading material on her nightstand. Achieve the aroma with a library- inspired candle from Byredo. $80, at A HEFTY PRICE. In an attempt to lessen the heft of her person, she would don shoes with a slight angularity and height. Christian Dior pump $910, at Neiman Marcus, Tootsies. FITTING FROCK. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac's artful ode to surrealism makes dress perfect for Madame. Price upon request, at Gregory's. OF DARING TASTE. We can imagine David Hicks incorporating these in the set of rooms he decorated for Helena in London. Regency style painted and carved palm motif torchères from England, circa 1850, $11,332, at Carl Moore Antiques. CULTIVATING THE AVANT-GARDE. Perhaps the original Plexi pooh-bah, Helena had not only a suite of bedroom furniture done in acrylic (with an under-lit sleigh bed) but her dining-room table and chairs as well. They were surrounded on all sides by a series of custom commissioned Dalí panels. From $3,100, at CUBIST PURSES. Helena preferred bags that were decidedly square, in sharp contrast with her appreciation of art ranging from African to Picasso. Roger Vivier Mis Viv purse, price upon request, at CAPPING IT OFF. Sheathing Helena's shellacked hair were smart little pork pie hats, perfectly proportional to her frame. Mulberry straw hat $210, at POWDER PLUSH. Nothing is more pleasing that setting one's makeup with pristine packed powder, as Helena would do. Aerin Kabuki brush $48, at Neiman Marcus. ECCLESIASTICAL AROMA. Arquiste's Anima Dulcis embodies the air of reverent devotion that influenced Dominique's approach to collecting. $165, at Kuhl-Linscomb. A SUPERIOR SIMPLICITY. A minimalist ombre strand of cultured pearls are what Dominique preferred when it came to accessories. Mikimoto gradient necklace featuring Sea cultured pearls with pavé diamond clasp in 18K white gold, $89,000, at Zadok Jewelers, Dominique de Menil portrait by Andy Warhol, 1969 John and Dominique de Menil at the opening of "The John and Dominique de Menil Collection," Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1962. KEEPING IT LIGHT. Dominique preferred baubles such as this gold Verdura bangle over heavier, more complicated pieces. $16,000, at Neiman Marcus. FINE ART FLANEUR. Salvatore Ferragamo color-block sandals $550, at Salvatore Ferragamo. CHARLES JAMES. Christian Dior's Raf Simons teams with Kvadrat for the fabric on this sinuous sectional, with a look and feel reminiscent of Charles James' work for Dominique in her Philip Johnson-designed home on San Felipe. This was the only interior design that James ever did. Prices on request, at CROSS YOUR HEART. The influence of Dominican priest Father Yves Marie Joseph Congar was far-reaching for both Dominique and John as the Menils became fascinated with the intersection of modern art, spirituality and ecumenism. Never forget such lessons with a Maltese cross brooch by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany. $13,000, at Tiffany & Co. IN HIS IMAGE. Designer Zac Posen paid homage to couturier Charles James, which Dominique famously donned. Price upon request, at Saks Fifth Avenue. WHY WEAR ONE STRAND WHEN YOU CAN WEAR 20. Garlands of dazzling rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds eternally draped the cosmetics queen's nape. Trianon sapphire bead, emerald, diamond and pearl necklace, price upon request, at Tenenbaum & Co. ALL DECKED OUT. Helena adored accessorizing not only herself but her home with brightly colored creations. She would have appreciated this sinuous Venetian chandelier in a slew of colors. $8,500, at Antiques of River Oaks. THE MENIL COLLECTION Helena Rubenstein WATCHING CLOSELY. When a day consists of meeting with Magritte or Warhol, being late is not an option. Frederique Constant Art Deco watch $1,225, at Deutsch & Deutsch. MASTERFULLY MODIGLIANI. The seemingly flat female figures in the spring collection of Aquilano.Rimondi mirror Helena's appreciation of artist Amedeo Modigliani. cotton twill skirt $1,525, at

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