THE SECOND WORLD WAR –
Go out and do your stuff
With a little powder and a puff
— Young and Beautiful
WHILST THE ‘PHONEY WAR’ simmered, Helena and Artchil, accompanied by Helena’s devoted employee Sara Fox, journeyed leisurely by ship to Mexico, Panama and South America, the extended cruise by way of a working honeymoon, as Latin America presented an emerging market. As usual, Helena went shopping: a building in Buenos Aires, another in Rio de Janeiro, and an office block in Panama, where one of her relatives settled. She bought paintings by an unknown artist, Jesus Ray, in Mexico (where she also set up a sales agency), dozens of silver ‘ballandangas’, which are part of a Brazilian dancer’s costume, silver-embossed water canteens as used by the Brazilian gauchos, and commissioned the inevitable portrait of herself, this time executed by Portinari.
As usual with Helena, everything was put to good use. Back in New York, Lord & Taylor made replicas of the small silver pieces, charms and gaucho canteens, selling them as ‘inspired by the fabled collector’s items of Helena Rubinstein, the Princess Gourielli’, with all profits going to the Polish relief fund for the Red Cross. Helena also commissioned a sculpture of hands, titling it Precision Hands – grinding out vision lenses that spot enemy targets’, exhibiting it at a press party.
In June 1940, with Italy declaring war and invading Southern France, swiftly followed by the French armistice with Germany, Edward Titus and his young wife Erica decided things were becoming uncomfortable and got