Everyone eagerly anticipated Helena's legendary appearances, always wearing outrageously fabulous costumes. Her own parties were legendary for their flamboyant themes and colorful guests. In a decade, the strong-willed Spanish girl had transformed into "the glamorous rag trade Empress of Manila's haute couture set".

Ever the Queen of Reinvention, Helena decided to move to New York in 1982. Her marriage had ended and she was determined to make her mark in the competitive fashion industry there. At 32, she made the move with her two young daughters Katya and Tanya. All she had was a little borrowed money and her dream. Helena recalls New York as a humbling experience where she "learned a lot". Azabache made its American debut at Fashion Week in New York for Spring/Summer in 1983 and then did another collection for Fall/Winter 1984. Her forte for designing women's wear was again displayed in a single couture collection for women under the name CarratalĂ . She also designed children's wear which was sold at Sak's Fifth Avenue,Bergdorf, Bloomingdale's, and other top American department stores. Her New York years were heady yet heartbreaking.

Helena as a girl In 1985, Helena married Richard Mander in a small ceremony with family and close friends. Later that year, she gave birth to her youngest child Theodore. That same year, Helena designed costumes for "The Memory Theatre of Guilio Camillo" for La Ma Ma, the famed off-Broadway theatre. The Village Voice called her "gem-colored taffeta gowns and robes …sumptuous".

After nearly a decade of working in fashion and losing a few close friends to AIDS, Helena decided to leave the fashion industry and move on to something new: the restaurant business. She and Richard left New York for The Hamptons.