It's funny how you can look through a book a million times and still find something new each time you leaf through it. I was going through my favorite Tiffany Table Settings book for about the thirtieth time when a name that I had never really noticed before popped out in two different chapters: Princess Gourielli. OK, Princess Gourielli, Princess Gourielli...where had I heard that name before? And then it dawned on me- the Princess was cosmetics pioneer Helena Rubinstein. I guess the reason that I finally made this connection was because I had recently seen a documentary on the rivalry between Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. I remembered hearing that Rubinstein had married a Georgian prince (the lineage was a little murky), enticed by the title. In fact, Arden, a fierce rival of Rubinstein, was also married to a Russian prince for a short time. Perhaps it was a game of tit for tat?
Anyway, in the Tiffany book, Princess Gourielli's terrace was decorated for a birthday buffet luncheon. A buffet table was set with all kinds of dishes as well as a wrought-iron plant holder that held presents and bowls of melon balls. (I might have used something other than melon balls, but each to his own.) A champagne fruit punch was served from one table, while the birthday cake and dessert plates held court on another.
In another vignette shot, a "Silver Anniversary Party in Shades of Gray", Princess Gourielli's paneled dining room plays host to a "chiaroscuro" table setting. This make-believe dinner could not have been to honor Rubinstein's marriage to the Prince as he died in 1955 and this book was published in 1960.
I found additional images of Rubinstein's Park Avenue terrace and dining room in the terrific book Helena Rubinstein: Over the Top by Suzanne Slesin. In these photos, you can see what her home looked like when it was not decked out for silver anniversaries and the like.
The birthday cake.
The Silver Anniversary party.
You've got to hand it to Princess Giourelli. She sure knew how to set a table...and how to decorate a home.
A view of Rubinstein's terrace.
(Party shots from Tiffany Table Settings; other images from Helena Rubinstein: Over the Top by Suzanne Slesin.)