She was born in 1887 in Baltimore.During her early childhood years Dryden showed unusual artistic ability, designing and selling clothes for paper dolls. Eventually she sold a set of her paper dolls and dresses to a newspaper for use in its fashion section. This in turn led to a position as illustrator for Anne Rittenhouse's fashion articles in the Philadelphia Public Ledger.
After training briefly at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, she was designing magazine covers as early as 1913. By 1914 she was designing costumes for shows on Broadway, and continued until at least into the 1920s. In the late 1920s, she illustrated ads for Lux soap, Martex towels and others.
She did many covers for Vogue magazine before moving to the field of Industrial Design. Here are a few.
It was her work on the interior of the 1936 Studebaker Dictator and President that established Helen Dryden as an important twentieth-century industrial designer. Although her work was developed under the watchful eyes of the renowned automotive designer Raymond Loewy , Studebaker ads proclaimed, "It's styled by Helen Dryden."
It is sad to have to report that she spent the last half of her life in poverty.