1960s

Beauty profile: Carmen Murphy and Carmen Cosmetics

Carmen Murphy in 1969"To borrow Dr. King's phrase all I had, too, was a dream.  I got into the business mainly because Black women, myself included, had been searching for cosmetics that would look good on them for years.  There just weren't any."
- Carmen Murphy

In an effort to dig into Black makeup history, I came across many pioneering entrepreneurs who filled the much-needed gap for Black cosmetics and hair care that haven't really gotten their due historically.  I'm not sure whether this is appropriate for a white person to do - I still feel as though it's not my story to tell - but as with my article on Tommy Lewis I figured bringing awareness to bits of forgotten history even through a white lens was better than not doing it at all.  If anyone would like to weigh in on how I can do a better job and not whitesplain/whitewash, I am all ears.

So with that caveat in place, let's take a look at Carmen Cosmetics and the savvy businesswoman behind it, Carmen C. Murphy.  Carmen Murphy (née Caver) was born on October 20, 1915 in a small town just outside of Little Rock, AR.  The second oldest of nine children in an impoverished family, she began modeling to support herself.  At the age of 19 she married a pediatrician, Scipio Murphy, and they moved to Detroit.  She studied Home Economics and Business Administration at Wayne University. While much larger than the small Southern town Murphy grew up in, Detroit still lacked high-end beauty services for Black women.  They were excluded from white salons and the few Black salons didn't have the expertise.  "No one knew high fashion.  The beauticians used far too much oil and it took two weeks before [the hair] became nice and soft again," Murphy noted.  In 1946 she purchased a dilapidated three-story Victorian mansion located at 111 Mack Avenue (or 188 Mack Avenue) and spent $50,000 of her own money turning it into a 24-room salon. In November of 1947,  Olivia Clarke, president of the Rose Meta Beauty Products Company and the successful Rose Meta House of Beauty in Harlem, along with Rose Meta founder Rose Morgan and business manager Odessa Trotter, visited Detroit to finalize plans for opening a salon "fashioned" after the original House of Beauty in New York.  On May 30, 1948, the space officially opened as House of Beauty, with Trotter serving as beauty consultant.  However, I'm still confused as to the relationship between Morgan and Murphy and the latter's role in conceiving the House of Beauty.  According to one article, "The business project is the brain-child of Mrs. Murphy, who has had the cooperation of Rose Morgan of the New York House of Beauty...". Could it be that Murphy had the idea of a full-service salon around the same time as Morgan,  discovered the Rose Meta salon and then worked with her to develop a salon in Detroit with the same name, yet the two would be totally independent of each other?  Or did Murphy purchase her building in 1946 with the intent of opening a Rose Meta-style salon from the start? In of the articles regarding the grand opening, it's referred to as the Rose Meta House of Beauty, as if Murphy's enterprise was just another location of the original salon in New York, but Murphy was actually the owner.

In any case, the House of Beauty was intended to provide "tip to toe" beauty services for Black women.  The salon did $76,000 worth of business in its first year, with a staff of 35 serving an average of 200 clients per day, roughly a quarter of whom were white.  House of Beauty's operation was particularly innovative for its use of an "assembly line" service where customers received everything from massages to makeup consultations in a streamlined, orderly yet relaxing fashion.  Quipped Murphy's husband, "Leave my wife alone, and the House of Beauty would be as large as the Ford plant at River Rouge."

House of Beauty feature article, Ebony, 1951

While the salon did well, Murphy was still frustrated by the continuing lack of cosmetics available for deeper skin tones. "Most of us simply would not use any makeup," she said.  Murphy approached every major beauty company, including Avon, Helena Rubinstein and Revlon, only to be rejected.  "They would tell you firmly that they weren't interested, and that if they sold products for N*groes, it might spoil their image in the white community."  But in 1950 the owner of eponymous line Rose Laird offered to help Murphy develop and launch her own line.  "She simply said, "I'll help you'", Murphy recalled.  Laird assigned her chief chemist, Irving Wexler, to create formulas that wouldn't turn ashy or red on Black skin tones and that would actually match the diversity of Black skin.  In 1951 Carmen Cosmetics was officially launched.  Around this time the "Rose Meta" portion of the Detroit House of Beauty name was removed, perhaps due to the new makeup line.  Rose Meta also sold their own line of makeup for Black women in their New York salons and it's uncertain whether they were sold in the Detroit House of Beauty, but it seems that Carmen Cosmetics would be the in-house makeup brand for the salon starting in 1951. Given the partnership with Rose Laird and the new formulas concocted by Wexler, we can assume they were products that were entirely distinct from the Rose Meta line. 

House of Beauty feature article, Ebony, 1951

Murphy began promoting her line outside of Detroit shortly after its launch.  By 1953 Carmen Cosmetics had a foothold in a handful of other states. Again, notice that by 1953 the salon is referred to as Carmen Murphy's House of Beauty rather than Rose Meta.  I'd really love to unravel the mystery of the relationship between the two!

Carmen Murphy - House of Beauty Cosmetics, 1953
House of Beauty Cosmetics booth in Ammon Center for the Pittsburgh Courier Home Service Fair, June 9-11, 1953.
Carmen Murphy - House of Beauty Cosmetics
House of Beauty Cosmetics booth in Ammon Center for the Pittsburgh Courier Home Service Fair, June 9-11, 1953.

(images from collection.cmoa.org)

In early 1957 a more extensive sales campaign for the line was launched through the Student Marketing Institute based in New York.  Roughly 250 salespeople were deployed in 40 major urban markets across 17 states, targeting department and drug stores, Black salons and individual customers.  The theme was "everyday beauty for every smart woman", with window displays depicting "the varied roles played by every busy woman daily."  The items' retail price began at $1.25, competitive for other major cosmetics brands at the time.  Six shades of face makeup were offered along with face powder, mascara, brow pencil, blush and 6 lipstick colors. 

House of Beauty ad, 1957(image from detroitpubliclibrary.org)

In 1963 the salon had outgrown its original space and was moved to the Great Lakes Insurance Building at 8401 Woodard Avenue.  The Small Business Administration denied Murphy a loan despite the success of the original salon, so she and her husband had to use their own savings and borrow on their insurance to open at the new location.  Nevertheless, in April of that year Carmen Cosmetics made its world debut.   This article is useful but cringe-worthy for the use of "oriental" to describe an Asian skin tone; however, at least it doesn't refer to Murphy as the "N*gro Helena Rubinstein", which is how she was referred to in several major articles.  Ugh.  What was part of the success of the Carmen Cosmetics line was that it may have been the first Black-owned line to cater to every skin tone.  The formulas for other Black-owned lines were primarily intended for for Black clientele (and justifiably so), but Murphy wanted to accommodate "every female on the face of the earth."  Sort of a precursor to the "multicultural" beauty campaigns and products of the '90s, yes?

Detroit Free Press, April 6, 1963

Carmen Cosmetics continued using this as a marketing strategy throughout the '60s, at least when dealing with potential sales outlets.

Carmen Cosmetics sales letter, 1967

Carmen Cosmetics sales letter, 1967(image from Wayne University library archives)

In 1966 Rose Laird passed away, and in 1968 Murphy purchased the company for about $175,000 and named Wexler president. Early in the year the salon moved again, this time to 6080 Woodward Avenue to accommodate even more services.  This brief profile from the February 1, 1969 issue from Vogue discusses the salon and highlights Murphy's role as the first Black woman to head a major cosmetics firm.  While other Black beauty pioneers such as Madame C.J. Walker and Annie Turnbo Malone were well-known for their hair care products and services, and there were some Black-founded lines that offered  products for deeper skintones (Rose Morgan's Rose Meta, La Jac, Valmor, and Overton's High Brown powder come to mind) Carmen Murphy was among the first to focus on providing a comprehensive range of cosmetics for Black women, and the first to land significant business partnerships to distribute it.  What's also remarkable is that Murphy's business did not rely as much on direct sales as other companies that courted Black customers did at the time (Fuller, J. R. Watkins, etc.)  The salespeople for Carmen Cosmetics were responsible for getting the line into stores or doing in-store demonstrations, with less emphasis on going door-t0-door to individual clients.  From my understanding, there were no Carmen Cosmetics "dealers" as with Avon and the like.

Carmen Murphy profile in Vogue, Feb 1., 1969(image from archive.vogue.com)

From late 1968 it's unclear what happened next to the business.  By then Murphy had landed a deal with Universal to supply her line to their film studios and was in negotiations with Bristol Myer (producer of Clairol) for international distribution, but it's not specified whether that arrangement went through, since according to an article from January of 1969 she was still considering it along with 2 others from major corporations. By 1971 Carmen Cosmetics was sold in Woolworth's, Kresge and Lamston stores, but an article in October of that year refers to a "big" deal that did not take place because she needed a loan to seal the final agreement, and the SBA again refused a loan.  Murphy laid out how systemic racism prevented Carmen Cosmetics from expanding further.  "Basically, the financial institutions do not want to see us succeed in big business.  They will loan you enough to get you started, usually just enough to get you in trouble.  Being refused by banks has been a blow to me.  I feel that, if you become large, and if you become a real threat on the market, they decide to box you in...white people are trying to prove that we do not have the ability.  Given the opportunity, we will fail.  This is a planned, white, negative approach to help.  We will fail, and this will come back at us for years to come...a white business woman definitely would not encounter this problem.  She would have a line of credit, something we never had."  Referring to the House of Beauty, she concluded:  "My dream has not been fulfilled here." Although this occurred nearly 50 years ago, it demonstrates exactly why we need programs like Juvia's Place and Glossier's grant programs today. The system is still incredibly unjust, bigoted and actively preventing Black entrepreneurs from fulfilling their vision.

In 1974 Murphy retired as the House of Beauty's owner, and there's basically no readily available information regarding what happened to the Carmen Cosmetics line or the salon after that. There was a brief mention in a November 1975 issue of Black Enterprise so we know it was still being sold then, but that was about it.  I contacted 4 organizations in Detroit and no one was able to locate business records for House of Beauty or correspondence for Carmen Murphy.  Nor could anyone find her obituary.  She was still alive in 1995, when she received an award for her founding of H.O.B. Records (House of Beauty Records), but had passed by 2010 which is when a video of her receiving the award was uploaded.  She had two sons, Scipio Jr. who tragically died quite young from polio in 1950, and Robert, an accomplished pianist and music teacher who is also deceased.  Her nephew (her sister's son), Van Cephus, was a jazz musician who sadly died by suicide in 2014.  From the comments on the aforementioned video it looks like there are a couple of surviving relatives, but obviously I don't feel comfortable reaching out to them for any information they might have. 

So as not to end on a complete down note, I want to highlight Murphy's other achievements.  Throughout her career she continued to give back to the Black community.  In 1958 she started H.O.B. Records initially to fund gospel recordings. She then set up a practice room in the salon's basement for up and coming musicians to use. H.O.B. Records quickly became the launchpad for dozens of talented musical groups.

HOB records
(image from fhcmag.blogspot.com)

With the cooperation of the Detroit Board of Education, Murphy also spoke at local schools about proper grooming.  "All the poverty programs usually come to us for beauty and good grooming touches before they finish.  I want young people to take pride in their appearance.  Many haven't had the opportunity to dress properly, to act properly or to wear the right things. I want to teach them to take an interest in themselves and the world around them," she said.  On the one hand, I suspect, sadly, that "properly" and "the right things" are code for white standards of beauty and decorum. On the other, it's wonderful that Murphy was providing underprivileged Black youth with some of the tools that would aid them in advancing their social and economic status.  Along those lines, in late 1969 she began supplying Carmen Cosmetics to American Airlines for use in their Grace and Glamour program, which helped "young girls build confidence through good grooming habits and proper makeup techniques."  The program provided mini flight kits containing Carmen Cosmetics to be used by the girls, which they were permitted to keep.  The Grace and Glamour program doesn't exactly sound like a bastion of feminism, but it's important to keep in mind that there were very few opportunities available for disadvantaged Black girls at the time.  And it seems that at least some of the girls enjoyed the products and the makeup process. 

Jet Magazine, January 8, 1970(image from Jet Magazine)

By 1971, Murphy had served as a volunteer driver for the Red Cross, was a lifetime member of the National Association for N*gro Women and NAACP, a member of the African Art Committee at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the women's auxiliary of the Detroit Symphony, the Booker T. Washington Trade Association, the YWCA and the Detroit Roundtable of Catholics, Jews and Protestants, Inc. 

As there are still many loose ends to tie up regarding Ms. Murphy - namely, any sort of correspondence, business records, or obituary - I'm contemplating the idea of hiring a private researcher to see if they can find any official business records and additional photos, but it's going to depend on their fees.  I saw tons of article "snippets" on Google books and a New York Times article that I was unable to access as well, so there's more information out there.  Also, there are plenty of online articles about Rose Morgan but obviously I'd like to do a really in-depth profile of her and also see if I can find anything about her business relationship with Carmen Murphy. 

Huge thanks to James from Cosmetics and Skin for his assistance with this article! He supplied the 1951 Ebony article and wrote an excellent profile of Rose Laird if you're interested in additional background to the Carmen Cosmetics line...just go through his whole site, it's chock full of thorough and well-researched information.  I also must thank the archivists at the Detroit Historical Society, the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library, the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Thoughts?  Feedback?  I'd really like to do more profiles of early Black beauty lines and makeup artists...let me know who you think needs more attention or if I should keep my white mouth shut.

 

Sources:  As with my previous post, I linked throughout to relevant sources and pulled the rest of the story together from various newspaper and magazine articles, so those additional sources are listed below.

Gale Research International, "Who's Who Among Black Americans," 2002, p. 222.

"Cosmetics Firm Uses New, Unique Sales Approach," the New York Age, January 12, 1957.

Valerie Jo Bradley, "Grace and Glamour comes to Langston University Co-Eds," Jet, January 8, 1970, p. 28-31.

"Why Herb Martin Keeps Chugging Along, Just Like...er...uh...Horatio Allen," Detroit Free Press, October 24, 1971.

Mary Ellen Kirby, "Beauty: Skin deep, then some to Carmen Murphy," Detroit News, October 21, 1968.  Article provided by the Charles H. Wright Museum archives.

John L. Dotson, Jr., "Black is beautiful: Carmen Murphy's beauty salons bring cosmetics to N*gro women," Newsweek article featured in the Kenosha News, January 8, 1969.


Party patellas: the knee makeup fad of the '20s and '60s

Not sure how I missed Mimi Choi's fantastic makeup optical illusions on Instagram, but I'm grateful to Jen of Coffee Sundays for introducing me a few months ago. One look in particular caught my eye:  Choi's hilarious "twin", Knee-Knee. 

Mimi Choi - Knee-Knee
(image from @mimles)

And with that, I decided I had to find out the history of knee makeup in modern times.1 As usual this post will be heavily reliant on newspaper archives, sigh...I wish I could find more sources, especially since, as we'll see, newspapers are not always truthful.  Anyway, knee makeup been around much longer than you would think.  Flappers used rouge (blush) to decorate their knees, an are that was more exposed than ever despite the fact that hemlines were just below the knee (the '20s version of a miniskirt).  They'd either roll their stockings down or (gasp!) forgo stockings altogether - made it much easier to do the Charleston.  Adding some blush further drew attention to the knees, emphasizing the rebellious nature of the new fashion.  Side note:  I'm dying to figure out the shift from the word "rouge" to "blush".  I'm old and even when I was a kid I remember cheek color always being referred to as blush.  I wonder how and why mainstream makeup vocabulary changed.  But that's a project for another day.

Flapper applying knee rouge, 1921

Knee rouging became full-on knee painting by the mid-1920s, although it had been reported in Paris in 1920. Unlike knee rouge, it doesn't seem as though makeup was actually used - at least one article discusses regular oil paints and another mentions watercolor - but the average woman as well as traditional artists engaged in the practice.  The designs ranged from incredibly detailed portraits and landscapes to simple flowers and butterflies. 

Knee painting in the 1920s
(image from livingly.com)

One could argue that knee painting was a good way to pique the interest of boys.  Teenage girls would paint the initials of their boyfriends or desired boyfriends, while one woman, who wasn't keen on the idea of carrying a portrait of her fiance in a locket, had his likeness painted on her knee instead. 

Knee painting, 1921

But like regular knee rouging, it was also a demonstration of creativity, provocation and rebellion, which led to either encouraging men to further sexualize women's bodies or a total backlash against the practice.  "And, my, here comes a beauty; I watch as it walks by - a painting like that always seems to catch my eye.  As one sees a comely miss with both knee-caps ablaze, studying art becomes a treat to all of us these days," a 1925 poem reads.  One housewife by the name of Clarice Wilson, well aware of her husband's hatred for the new dogs she recently acquired, painted them on her knees for a passive-aggressive dig.  Her husband, Arthur X. Wilson, retaliated by painting the likenesses of two of the most attractive women in town on his own knees. While adult women may have been mildly shamed for knee art, teenagers were soundly punished. Seventeen-year-old Mary Bell was spanked by both of her parents for painting Clarence Darrow and a portrait of a monkey on her kneecaps and a high school basketball team (from Baltimore!) was nearly expelled for showing school spirit via knee painting.  (Click to enlarge.)

Knee painting feature, August 1925

Between the 1920s and 1960s there was scant mention of knee makeup.  Besides a couple of 1939 articles and a nostalgic look back in 1957, knee makeup simply wasn't on the radar.

Painted knees, July 1939

Yes, I shamelessly stole the title of my post from this article.

Painted knees - Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Nov. 6, 1957

But the craze for knee painting returned with a vengeance in the '60s, albeit with a slightly different flavor.  Makeup artists were now finally starting to be considered "real" artists on par with traditional painters, which is reflected in their leading the way for knee makeup and the use of cosmetics rather than oil paint or watercolor applied by a regular artist. Possibly the first documented instance of knee makeup from an actual makeup artist came from William Loew, makeup director for Charles of the Ritz.  In late February 1965 he painted a pair of eyes on a model's knees for a party. Touted as the "latest in pop-op beauty" and inspired by the emerging pop and optical illusion art of the time, Loew declared the pop-op movement in fashion and beauty as a step forward for women's freedom from relying solely on her looks for success. I can't help but wonder if Loew had somehow stumbled across the knee art displayed during the 1920s.  In any case, I'd kill to see his work in color!

William Loew knee painting, March 1965

By the summer of 1965 the fad had trickled down to the masses.  A suburban Pittsburgh housewife and representative for Vivianne Woodard cosmetics, Mary Metzler, took responsibility for creating the look in May 1965, admitting that she devised the idea mostly to sell more cosmetics.  Over the next year the trend grew, despite Loew himself claiming it was over by late 1966.  Prior to his statement, by the summer of 1966 the big makeup brands were releasing leg and knee makeup kits, with the notable exception of Elizabeth Arden, whose "face designer" Pablo "refused to have anything to do with [knee makeup]".3 Estée Lauder introduced a fairly regular line with makeup, contouring powder and highlighter, but also offered an art kit complete with stick-on jeweled beauty spots (mouches). 

Bam! Gams, Mademoiselle magazine, July 1966

Estée Lauder leg and knee makeup, Mademoiselle, July 1966(images from archive.org)

Fabergé had their makeup director, Evan Richardson, create their "Kneesies" kit, which contained red, blue and yellow paints.

Faberge Kneesies, July 1966_

Revlon Ultima II's cleverly named Stemwear collection included both a "leg complexion" kit for those who desired basic coverage (hiding bruises and other imperfections) as well as a Leg Art kit with four colors that could be mixed: Chalk White, Chrome Yellow, Chinese Red, and Marine Blue, that came packaged in an artist's palette. 

Ad for Revlon Ultima II Stemwear, Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1966

The company also enlisted fashion illustrator Joe Eula to create custom designs, which were featured in the May 20, 1966 issue of Life magazine along with the July 1966 issue of Harper's Bazaar.

Life magazine, May 1966

Life magazine, May 1966

Life magazine, May 1966(image from books.google.com)

Revlon Stemwear, Harper's Bazaar, July 1966

Revlon Stemwear and knee makeup, Harper's Bazaar, July 1966

While Revlon's kit was reported to be the first leg makeup kit on the market, in July 1967 one reader of the Mercury newspaper remarked that Mary Quant, widely considered the inventor of the miniskirt, had come up with the concept of body paint first, and an indelible one at that (along with "freckle paint," which reminds me that my article on faux freckles is in dire need of updating).  While I couldn't find any proof whatsoever, I have a very strong feeling that Mary Quant probably offered a fun leg makeup kit.

Anyway, as it had the previous year, knee makeup soon made its way from fashion magazines to your garden-variety middle-class teens. 

Knee painting, Fort Worth Star Telegram, August 19, 1966

Glad to see these girls were not thrown out of school or spanked by their parents.

Photos-1967

Knee makeup art morphed into painting the entire leg by the summer of 1967, with Coty and Givenchy both releasing leg paint kits in shades meant to mimic colorful stockings. 

Coty body paint ad, 1967
(image from amazon)

Givenchy leg paint, Harpers Bazaar January 1967

Givenchy leg paint, Harpers Bazaar January 1967

And everyone remembers the body painting popularized by hippies and mainstream shows like Laugh-In.  In 1968 Tussy released a Hieroglyphics paint kit meant to be used all over the body. However, this is getting a bit off track and an entire book could be written about body paint, so I'm not going to go further with the concept now.  Suffice it to say that knee makeup hit its peak in 1966 and had mostly fallen out of favor in the '70s through, well, now, partially due to the fact that pants were becoming more acceptable for women's wear.  Maxi skirts and bell-bottoms took over around 1970 and lasted through the decade, while trousers became equally popular to skirts and dresses in the '80s and '90s.  If body makeup were to be used artistically, all-over body paint took the place of knee makeup over time.  And that's the reason Mimi Choi's art got my attention - it's rare nowadays to see only one specific part of the body adorned with makeup.

While most of the knee makeup was predicated on the ideas of creativity and self-expression, the notion of attracting boys or painting a boyfriend's name or initials was frequently noted.  Girls painted "available" and "need a date?" onto their kneecaps, while Metzler, self-proclaimed inventor of the trend, "It gives [girls] something to do at the beach, but most important it's the kind of gimmick that helps them attract boys.  That, after all, is the primary purpose of most cosmetics."  Yikes.

Knee painting, Orlando Sentinel, July 17, 1966

Then as in the 1920s, one of the reasons for knee makeup was presumably to attract guys or express one's affection for their beau, although I don't believe it was the main reason. I tend to think it was more about having fun and allow oneself to be a bit more daring than with face makeup, since the knees, despite being on display, are not as immediately noticeable as the face.  As Harper's Bazaar noted, "Never before in the history of makeup has the personal creative impulse been given such wild, free and wonderful reign."

So why did knee makeup trend in the 1920s and 1960s?  Some factors for these two very different decades overlap.  First, knee makeup in both eras was primarily fashion-driven.2  Leg makeup were ostensibly the result of new, seemingly shocking clothing styles for women, an example of the direct influence of fashion on makeup.  Freed from the burden of stockings, either by rolling them down or skipping them entirely, 1920s women realized there was room to decorate this newly acquired space.  And the latest miniskirt styles in the mid-1960s placed a bigger spotlight than ever on legs, with Harper's Bazaar declaring 1966 to be "the year of the leg".  

Knee makeup ad, LA Times, July 6, 1966

I acknowledge makeup doesn't exist in a vacuum and that there is a definitive link between cosmetics and clothing, but generally I don't think fashion affects makeup trends as much as we think. Having said that, knee makeup seems to be a clear case of fashion dictating makeup. 

The other factor at play for the knee makeup fad peaking in the 1920s and 1960s besides leg exposure in and of itself was a celebration of freedom from both an expectation of modesty and clothing that restricted movement.  Not coincidentally, (White) women's rights gained significant ground in both eras, and perhaps knee painting was a byproduct of women's social advancement.  As fashion historian and writer Marlen Komar points out, "Whether it was the '20s or '60s, women turned to knee painting to not only flex their creativity and have a bit of fun, but also to assert their autonomy, own their sexuality, and label themselves as a new generation of modern women. Makeup bags are often more political than we give them credit for."  I'm inclined to agree for the most part.  Miniskirts may not have been as liberating as history makes them out to be as they were originally intended only for the younger crowd and women today continue to get blamed for sexual assault for wearing too short a skirt, but by and large shorter silhouettes were revolutionary.  Knee makeup, along with shorter hems, could be viewed as another way women were enjoying their newfound freedom.

Of course, precisely because of the rebellious and assertive nature of knee art, there were detractors in both decades as well.  The loudest were those who harped on the ugliness of the knee.  While fashion designers hiked up hems in the name of emancipation during the '60s, others simultaneously (and hypocritically) discussed the need to make knees less offensive via makeup rather than demanding skirts and dresses get back to a lower length.  Or, you know, making pants acceptable or just letting women show their legs without feeling pressured to prettify them with makeup.  Knees were apparently hideous, which is exactly why any woman donning a miniskirt was automatically declared brave.  (Sort of like how we talk about celebrities going bare-faced in public now.)  As Gil, makeup director for Max Factor noted in 1966, "Exposing the knee is the most daring thing a woman can do.  After all, let's be clear about it.  The knob is terribly ugly."  Says one columnist:  "One cannot help wondering why this usually rather ugly thing must at all costs be displayed.  But it is never worthwhile to try to figure out fashion."  Another article's headline sums it up thusly:  "Glorifying the Ugly: Knees Take on Decorative Look".   And going back to 1925, critics claimed that not even painting could help offset the visual offensiveness of the knee.  In their view, knee art was a dubious endeavor or an entirely lost cause.  "Must be quite a task to make the old joints look attractive...I don't believe that painting the knees will help them any.  It would take more than paint to make the average knee worth looking at." 

Knee paint, 1925(image from livingly.com)

Naturally, random men had to make their opposition heard too.  One Charles Denton wrote in a 1966 opinion column for the San Francisco Examiner, "Having discerned that the knee has all the esthetic charm of a pickled pig's foot, did the style setters lower the skirt back over it? (With a thigh?) They did not!  Instead they started concocting cosmetics to glamorize it.  Which is about as logical as shaving your beard and then putting on a phony beard...I hardly need to tell you guys where this trend is leading.  Because aside from adding to the upkeep on your favorite dame, not to mention your wife,  this places yet another strain on the male psyche...the next time you're pacing the floor waiting for her to get ready to go out and you holler, 'What's taking you so long?' she'll chirp back, 'Just a few more minutes, I'm doing my knees.'"  Oh, poor delicate Charles with your already fragile "male psyche"!  He was not concerned about the expectation that women must attempt to make their legs look more attractive given the new short styles in addition to their normal beauty regimen, but that the extra time required for them to complete their makeup routine may inconvenience him. STFU, Charles. No one asked you.

The other thing the trend had in common in 1920s and 1960s was that it's unclear how many women actually adopted it.  As the very wise author of Cosmetics and Skin told me, "One swallow does not make a spring."  Despite the wealth of magazine articles in the '60s and the newspaper articles in both decades, I have a feeling it was akin to Instagram (or Tiktok, shudder) "trends" where one makeup artist or influencer does something crazy and it goes viral.  All the news outlets latch onto it and declare it a trend, when it fact only a handful of people tried it or even just the one person who started it.  I suspect the same thing happened with knee makeup.  It may have been fun at the occasional teenage party, but by and large I doubt many women were actually wearing it, at least not regularly.  "This so-called painted knee fad seems to be one of those things everybody knows all about but nobody's ever seen," was a common quip in 1925.  Dovetailing on the idea of backlash, one columnist by the name of Cynthia Grey stated that it was actually men who were trying to popularize knee makeup by putting it on every front page in order to make women look stupid. "It's funny how seriously men take freak styles and how ready they are to believe that women are morons...apparently for women to paint their knee is as important as a revolution in China or a monkey trial.  The implication is, of course, what fools we women are!"  Additionally, the spat between the Wilsons in the article shown earlier apparently never happened, because no one by the name of Arthur X. Wilson near Carlisle, PA existed. 

The_Evening_News_Mon__Aug_17__1925_

It was a work of total fiction that also demonstrates the hostility towards the trend and men's need to keep women in their place.  The feature included two somewhat true accounts4 of girls being punished for knee makeup (although now I have my doubts about the basketball team from Baltimore) but also felt it necessary to come up with a third example that was a complete fantasy, just to "prove" how idiotic women were for adopting the trend.  As for the how widespread it was in the '60s, I asked my mom, who was 21 at the peak of knee makeup in 1966 and she had absolutely no recollection of seeing it in the news, let alone in real life.  I understand that's purely anecdotal, but it goes to show that even young, stylish and progressive women - the key demographic - weren't necessarily adopting knee makeup.  I'm also thinking some of the newspaper coverage of the trend in the '60s may have been the suggestion of editors who needed a fun story for a slow summer news day rather than teens picking it up of their own accord. (Click to enlarge.)

Miami News, July 10, 1966

Finally, the fact that I've never seen any of these kits for sale or even an actual photo, only illustrations, suggests that knee makeup was not widely used.

Anyway, while knee makeup may have had a moment in the '20s and '60s, there were differences between two decades.  In the 1920s, knee rouge and painting was associated primarily with flappers and other rebellious young women. In the 1960s, knee makeup did express freedom and was intended for youngsters, but it was less about mimicking or assimilating a particular group. While some fashion observers claimed that knee makeup was mostly the domain of mods, its appeal seemed to be more widespread, reaching those who simply saw it as a fun activity rather than allegiance to a certain style or outlook.  Swim parties, summer camps, 4th of July were all occasions where friends could paint each other's knees - again, at least according to the local newspapers.

Summer camp in Ithaca, New York, 1966

Plus, while most are accustomed to applying makeup on their face, painting one's knees is trickier as you have to paint upside down.  Many articles noted that it was best to use the buddy system to ensure the design came out right. In this way knee makeup helped build camaraderie in a slightly different way than regular makeup play dates.  In the 1920s it seemed that a lot of knee painting was done by traditional artists. Some salons were flooded for knee painting requests and felt as though the only option was to hire an outside artist on to meet the demand, so girls like Mary Bell and salon employee Mrs. Richards may have been exceptions.  The shift during the '60s from hiring a painter to either a makeup artist, DIY or having a friend do the painting switched up the dynamic, as evidenced in these photos.

Knee painting, 1926
(image from marymiley.wordpress.com)

Knee painting party, July 11, 1966

Another difference was that there more emphasis on fashion in addition to art.  Besides Revlon's use of a fashion illustrator to sell their kit and the trend being spotted primarily on local fashion runways and department stores, some proponents recommending matching or coordinating one's knee makeup with clothing.  Helena Rubinstein recommended making your own stencils to coordinate with any outfit. (Click to enlarge.)

Knee makeup, Tampa Times, June 13, 1966

A third difference is that there was more acceptance for the fad in the 1960s.  The average person in the 1920s generally disapproved of knee rouge or paint; not even fashion editors and other trend-setters could sway the public's opinion. But 40 years later, as long as you were young, you could get away with miniskirts and knee makeup. I guess one could argue that's progress as compared to the 1920s stance that no woman no matter her age should have painted knees, but is it really? 

Leg Paint, Vogue, July 1966

Leg Paint, Vogue, July 1966

As the Vogue article above notes, "[Women] need [leg makeup] to make their legs look as smooth as a pair of flying silk ribbons; as unmarred by time as those of a 10-year old girl."  Another fashion editor writing for the Salt Lake Tribune in May of 1966 states that knee makeup is "FUN - if one happens to be a teen or sub-teen. BAD - if one is a minute past teen. So knack your knees only according to how many years old they are. Age is one secret they can't keep."  The obsession with youth might also be a function of pandering to young people in general as the baby boomer generation became front and center. 

Finally, while I have my doubts that many women actually wore knee makeup art in the 1960s, the trend - or at least the idea of it - seemed slightly more widespread than in the '20s thanks to the marketing efforts of cosmetic companies and the makeup professionals employed by them, along with distribution of these ideas to a bigger audience via the ubiquity of fashion magazines.  In the 1920s there was no such thing as an artistic director for a makeup brand, and companies hadn't yet grown into multi-million dollar businesses pumping out hundreds of products.  Roughly forty years had passed since makeup became regularly worn; by that point there were many more products on the market than in the '20s, so companies had to go beyond the face and invent new types of makeup.  It was only a matter of time before they shifted attention away from the face to the body in the hopes of generating more revenue, and short skirts gave them the perfect opportunity.  Revlon, Fabergé, et al were not going to miss their chance to capitalize on and create a false need for leg makeup kits (see also: earlobe makeup).  As one journalist noted in May 1966, "Cosmetics firms are about to spring a whole raft of brand new knee makeup products and ideas.  The paints and brushes, powders and creams are ready and fetchingly packaged.  The ad men are set to spread the word." As for the media, yes, Harper's and Vogue existed in the 1920s, but I'm guessing their circulation was much smaller than in the '60s, not to mention the slightly newer publications that been established by that point (Mademoiselle, Glamour, Seventeen, Co-Ed, etc.)  People are more susceptible to buy certain products or try new trends the more coverage they receive, especially with a makeup artist leading the way and the availability of pre-made kits.  Lastly, makeup technology was allegedly improved in terms of longevity.  Nearly all of the advertising for leg makeup emphasizes its long-wearing nature, a sharp contrast to the messiness of the 1940s5 and prior years.

My thoughts:  this was a pretty wild trend that I would love to see again.  Given the sad state of my own baggy, misshapen knees I go back and forth as to whether I'd emphasize them with makeup designs, but it would be great to see on other people. It's also one of the few trends that could work on every skin tone.  Of course, so-called "flesh tone" makeup for covering varicose veins or bruises probably was not available for Black or brown skin in the '60s and certainly not prior, but the bright primary colors contained in some of the kits would suit everyone.  And while short skirts on women may not be as scandalous as they were decades ago, knee makeup remains an unexpected mode of cosmetic styling and body art.

What do you think?  Would you ever wear knee makeup and if so, what design would you choose?  You know I'd paint portraits of Museum staff members!  Or maybe a mermaid on one and a shell on the other.

 

1Obviously there are entire books that could be written about body paint in various cultures throughout history, so I'm focusing specifically on knee painting during the 20th century in the U.S.

2While knee painting was mostly an offshoot of fashion, there was some influence from art movements in both eras.  One 1925 article notes that knee painting was taking on "Cubist lines", and another in 1966 describes one young lady who painted on a Mondrian-inspired design.  Knee makeup and body painting in the '60s more generally may have also been influenced by Yves Klein's Anthropométries of 1961.

3Richard Corson, Fashions in Makeup from Ancient to Modern Times, p. 569.

4Some articles indicated that Mary Bell painted Clarence Darrow on one knee and William Jennings Bryan on the other, but the article with an actual picture shows Clarence Darrow and a monkey...so who knows what's really going on there?  The photo might not have been Ms. Bell at all. In any case, multiple accounts reveal that she did paint her knees and was spanked, so at least that those parts of the story seem to be true.

5The '40s saw a spike in leg makeup due to the war.  Shortages in materials meant nylon stockings weren't readily available so women painted them on, seams and all.  There were entire leg makeup kits and salons had the service readily available.  And while the focus wasn't the knees but the entire leg, tips for contouring those pesky knee bulges still made it into various beauty advice columns. However, there was really no fun or creativity with the leg makeup of the '40s. By most accounts it was purely to mimic the average nylon stocking - no crazy colors or designs.


Signs: a brief history of zodiac-inspired beauty

Almost as much as flowers, fruit, and butterflies, the signs of the zodiac are leading choices for modern cosmetics collections and beauty inspiration.  As a new sign season (Taurus) descends today, I thought it would be an appropriate time to provide a visual history of zodiac beauty and trace the ebb and flow of its popularity in the U.S.  As we'll see, the two main components of this particular category (zodiac-themed packaging and beauty tips/makeup looks based on one's sign) and the reasons behind their prevalence at certain times really haven't changed much in the past 100 years. 

The story arguably begins in the late 1600s in Europe, when British satire poet Samuel Butler suggested that women used beauty patches to indicate their sun sign.  As Aileen Ribeiro explains in Facing Beauty, "According to astrology, certain areas of the face were governed by the signs of the zodiac - Capricorn the chin, Aquarius the left eye, and so on - so that patches placed on the face could echo this respectable link, this time equating such sites with emotions related to love and sexual invitation; this game, perhaps not taken seriously by women at least, was played well into the eighteenth century."While I'd love to delve deeper to see if there were any other horoscope beauty mentions prior to then and between the 1700s to the 1900s, I've accepted that I need to fast forward to the modern beauty era.  The zodiac-based beauty advice that appears in nearly every online fashion publication nowadays has its roots in the 1920s, when an "authority on beauty"/astrology student declared that "the planets will guide one in using cosmetics" at the American Cosmetician's Society convention.

News article on zodiac beauty -Aug_17__1928_
(image from newspapers.com)

Zodiac beauty remained relatively obscure in the '30s and '40s.  Poudre d'Orsay's use of the zodiac for its face powder containers remains a mystery.  As far as I know it did not appear anywhere else in their line of powders and perfumes. Perhaps it's a reference to a detail on a historic building, much like the graphics on Cedib's Arc de Triomph powder, but that's just speculation.

Poudre d'Orsay, 1930s

The May 1, 1941 issue of Vogue featured a shop that sold an "all-purpose" cream with ingredients based not on one's skin needs but their zodiac sign.  This is possibly the first zodiac-specialized beauty product in the modern era.

Vogue, May 1941
(image from archive.vogue.com)

As compact sales grew exponentially in the '30s and '40s, zodiac-themed cases offered an alternative to monogramming in terms of customization.

Canadian-compacts-Dec_19__1936_
(image from newspapers.com)

The short-lived Ziegfeld Girls brand launched lucite zodiac compacts in 1946, which you can read more about here.

Ziegfeld Girls Scorpio zodiac compact, 1946

Why this Scorpio compact included a brochure for Capricorn I don't know, but it's interesting to see.

Ziegfeld Girls Capricorn zodiac brochure

Just two years later Elgin American got in on the zodiac compact game by introducing their "Zany Zodiac" line.  The illustrations and rhymes were devised by Stan MacNiel, a Scotsman and former British army captain.  He was quite the character and I encourage you to check out my post on him and the Elgin line.

Elgin American Virgo zodiac compact, ca. 1948

Advertising for both the Ziegfeld Girls and Elgin American compacts emphasize the individualization aspect of the zodiac.  Despite the millions of people that share the same sign, zodiac compacts were "all about you" and "individually styled."

Elgin American zodiac ad, March 1948

Ziegfeld-girls-ad-Mar_25__1946_
(images from newspapers.com)

As monogrammed compacts gradually became less popular by the mid-20th century, so too did those bearing individual signs.  A shift towards including all twelve symbols became more common.

Volupte Golden Gesture, ca. 1947-1950

Zodiac-themed compacts from the '50s though the early '70s tended to include all the sun signs.

Vintage zodiac compacts
Clockwise from top left: unmarked Scorpio compact (1950s), Max Factor (1971), Zenette (ca. 1950s), Wadsworth (ca. early 1950s), Kigu (ca. 1950s-70s), Stratton (1969), Le Rage (1950s)

The late 1960s, with its tumultuous social revolution and economic and political uncertainty, is when the astrology craze firmly took hold in American culture.  This in turn led to not only zodiac-themed collections but a slew of beauty horoscopes.

House of Danilov zodiac soap, Vogue November 1967
These pre-date Fresh's zodiac soaps by nearly 50 years!

House of Danilov zodiac soaps ad, Feb_7__1968(image from newspapers.com)

Tussy My Sign fragrance, ca. 1969
(image from ebay)

Sears Upbeat zodiac lipsticks ad, Aug_20__1969_

Flori Roberts debuted what might have been the first zodiac-inspired line for black women in 1973.

Flori Roberts zodiac line, 1973(images from newspapers.com)

Actress Arlene Dahl, who had been penning beauty horoscopes since 1963, published her "Beauty Scope" books in 1969.  I need to get my hands on a couple copies but in the meantime check out this blogger's review.

Arlene Dahl Beauty Scope book, 1969
(image from amazon)

Not to be outdone, modeling agency founder John Robert Powers and beauty columnist Jennifer Anderson followed suit.

Beauty horoscope by Jennifer-Anderson, Dec_31__1972_(image from newspapers.com)

Some beauty companies took a different, less labor-intensive route than producing and marketing zodiac-themed collections:  they began recommending products from their existing lineup for each sign.

Yardley Slicker Scope ad, 1969(image from capricornonevintage on flickr)

Estée Lauder beauty horoscope recommendations, January 1969

Estée Lauder beauty horoscope recommendations, January 1969(images from newspapers.com)

As the astrology fad waned in the mid-late '70s, due in part to scientist killjoys, so too did zodiac beauty.  Save for this 1978 Maybelline ad, I was hard pressed to find any other zodiac-themed makeup until the mid '80s.

Maybelline-zodiac

Zodiac beauty got a little boost during the greed-is-good era, when makeup artist Linda Mason published a book entitled Sun Sign Makeovers in 1985.  Like Dahl's series, the book offered specific beauty tips and makeup looks for each sign.  Just a couple years afterwards,  Mason released her own line of astrology-inspired makeup called Elements, some of which can still be purchased today (with different packaging).  There was a "moodkit" for each sign and specialized kits for eyes, cheeks and lips. By the way, in looking these up and learning more about Mason I discovered that her work is exactly one of the main things the Museum is intended for: the intersection of art and makeup.  If travel is ever remotely safe again I'm definitely going to check out her store/art gallery in Soho, it sounds dreamy!  It's literally called The Art of Beauty.

Linda Mason Sun Signs Makeover book
(image from lindamasonprofessional.com)

Linda Mason Elements(image from picuki.com)

Maybelline also tried to re-ignite the zodiac beauty flame in 1988 with individual eyeshadows. First lady Nancy Reagan regularly consulted an astrologer during her husband's tenure, a fact made public that same year, so perhaps this news snippet isn't too far off base.  (The shades are listed above in a separate clip for reference.)

Maybelline zodiac eyeshadows 1988
(image from newspapers.com)

The '90s and early 2000s experienced a resurgence of zodiac-themed beauty.  Nostalgia for '60s counterculture (in which the fascination with astrology played a big role) as well as the renewed interest in customized beauty products were the major drivers of the trend.  While Estée Lauder's compacts - another you can still buy today! - were geared more towards adults, many zodiac-themed products seemed to be intended for teens.

Estée Lauder zodiac compact ad, 1996
(image from ebay)

Vogue November 1997(image from archive.vogue.com)

Coco Loco zodiac lipsticks and nail polishes, 1997

Estée Lauder zodiac compacts
Left: Erté compact (2004); top: zodiac compact (2000); right: zodiac compact (1996)

Zodiac nail polishes by Tuff Scentence, Mademoiselle magazine July 1998

Has anyone ever heard of Scotty Ferrell?  I could not find a single other reference to him anywhere.

SScotty Ferrell zodiac lipsticks, Aug_30__2000_(image from newspapers.com)

Skinmarket Astrogloss, ca. 2001
(image from sickmalls.wordpress.com)

Demonstrating that beauty trends are cyclical, the zodiac fad waned again in the late aughts and early 2010s.  But around rumblings began in 2015 with Fresh's zodiac soaps and crescendoed to a roar by 2018.  Both Fresh and Bite borrowed a page from Flori Roberts and collaborated with noted astrologers for their collections - Susan Miller in the case of Fresh and Tara Greene for Bite.

Zodiac beauty items
Wet n Wild (summer 2018), Fresh Sugar lip balm (fall 2018), Colourpop x Kathleen Lights zodiac eyeshadow palette (summer 2018) and single eyeshadows (summer 2019), Missha cushion compact (ca. 2018), Bite Beauty Scorpio lipstick (fall 2018), The Creme Shop sheet mask (fall 2018)

But wait, there's more!  These are the ones not in the Museum's collection but still worth a mention.  The Milk Makeup zodiac stamps are a thoroughly modern twist on the beauty patches idea from several centuries ago, no?  When applied on the face I'd imagine they'd look like beauty marks, albeit ones with a highly specific design.

Zodiac beauty products

  1.   Julep zodiac nail polish, fall 2016
  2.   Milk Makeup Astrology tattoo stamps, fall 2018
  3.   Revolution Beauty My Sign eyeshadow palette, 2017
  4.   Demeter Fragrance Library Zodiac Collection, 2016-2017
  5.   BH Cosmetics Zodiac palette, fall 2017
  6.   NCLA zodiac nail polish, 2016

Besides beauty tips and products, the increased usage of social media meant that by 2018 Instagram makeup artists were sharing some very elaborate zodiac looks.

Zodiac makeup looks by Setareh Hosseini
(image from demilked.com)

Zodiac makeup by Kimberly Money
(image from mymodernmet.com)

Lest you think these not-so-wearable looks are solely the creation of 21st century influencers, here's a 1984 Australian beauty pageant where contestants were challenged to come up with the most over-the-top "fantasy" zodiac makeup.

Zodiac beauty pageant Aug_27__1984_(image from newspapers.com)

The packaging and design of all of these objects and looks are interesting in their own right, but why does zodiac makeup trend more at certain times?  And why is it experiencing what may be the peak of popularity during the past 2 years?  There are several reasons. First, zodiac-themed beauty tends to follow a wider cultural interest in astrology and New Age practices more generally (crystals, tarot cards, etc.).  Businesses are always eager to profit from the latest fad, and the beauty industry is no exception.  The "mystical and psychic services market" was worth $2.2 billion in 2019 according to this trend forecaster.  As Saffron of the Beauty Critic points out, astrology-themed makeup fits within the broader context of New Age/occult-inspired beauty and wellness products we're seeing now as a result.  And in the Age of Aquarius, companies introduced hundreds of zodiac-themed products. Linda Goodman's 1968 Sun Signs was the first book on astrology to become a New York Times bestseller; by 1971, astrology was a $200 million dollar a year business in the U.S.2 Even Dali got in on the action.

Stratton zodiac compact, 1969

The interest in astrology points to larger societal shifts and is driven primarily by younger generations just as it was some 50 years ago.3   Millennials and Generation Z are reporting higher rates of stress than older generations, and are increasingly turning to astrology and other New Age phenomena to cope.  As the Atlantic explained in 2018, "According to American Psychological Association survey data, since 2014, Millennials have been the most stressed generation, and also the generation most likely to say their stress has increased in the past year since 2010. Millennials and Gen Xers have been significantly more stressed than older generations since 2012. And Americans as a whole have seen increased stress because of the political tumult since the 2016 presidential election. The 2017 edition of the APA’s survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they were significantly stressed about their country’s future. Fifty-six percent of people said reading the news stresses them out, and Millennials and Gen Xers were significantly more likely than older people to say so. Lately that news often deals with political infighting, climate change, global crises, and the threat of nuclear war. If stress makes astrology look shinier, it’s not surprising that more seem to be drawn to it now."  Case in point: this "stress-busting" insert from a recent Sephora Play! box detailing what beauty products will help with relaxation based on one's sign.

Sephora Play! box zodiac insert

The decline of organized religion and the expansion of the Internet's capabilities are also factors in astrology's revival.3  In 1972 one journalist cited two key reasons for the surge in astrology's rise:  "fear in an uncertain time and the failure of orthodox religion to give meaning to problems."4  The same can be said for today's environment.  Jessica Roy, writing for the L.A. Times in 2019, details the shift away from traditional religion and the resulting turn towards astrology.  "Today, young people still seek the things that traditional organized religion may have provided for their parents or grandparents: religious beliefs, yes, but also a sense of community, guidance, purpose and meaning. But it can be hard for young people to find those things in their parents’ religions. So they’re looking elsewhere.  On top of that, a lot of younger people feel alienated by mainstream religion — by attitudes toward LGBTQ people and women, by years of headlines about scandals and coverups, or by the idea that anyone who isn’t part of that religion is inherently bad or wrong...Before the internet, people who held beliefs outside the mainstream — religious, political or otherwise — lacked a public way to connect with one another. With social media, divinatory practices like astrology, crystals and tarot have been able to take up space in a public conversation. It helps that they all look great on Instagram...Young people have grown up contending with a major recession, climate change and a more general awareness of seeing a political and economic system that many feel hasn’t benefited them, so it’s not surprising that they’re pushing back against those systems at the same time they’re exploring nontraditional religious beliefs and finding ways to integrate it all." 

Kigu zodiac compact

As for modern technology, the New Yorker further lays out how the Internet and social media allowed astrology to be more accessible and at a much faster pace than before.  "[Astrology] promises to get to answers more quickly. For centuries, drawing an astrological chart required some familiarity with astronomy and geometry. Today, a chart can be generated instantly, and for free, on the Internet. Astrology is ubiquitous on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and in downloadable workshops, classes, and Webinars. A new frontier has opened with mobile apps."  While the Internet has radically changed, well, everything, in 1970 some of the first computers were being used to generate horoscopes, with companies pouring millions into new technology just as they are now for the same reason - increased speed of delivery to meet demand.

The_Record_Sun__Aug_2__1970_(image from newspapers.com)

The second major factor in zodiac beauty's ubiquity is customization.  Consumers like to think they're getting a product made or intended just for them.  Customization in beauty is trending more heavily than ever before, from nearly every company offering engraving services to personal consultation apps.  And astrology is a fairly simple way to advertise a seemingly individualized product.  In an interview with WWD, Fresh's chief marketing officer highlighted the trend of "customization and personalization" in the industry.  She also noted that "the collaboration was particularly successful in China, which she attributed to Chinese Millennials and their obsession with the zodiac."  It's a great point about Chinese zodiac beauty products as there's been an equally explosive rise in lunar new year-themed beauty products in the past few years, many of them depicting the animal corresponding to the year.  (See also Shiseido's Chinese zodiac figurines.)5 I think the growing interest in C-beauty is also partially responsible.

Chinese New Year beauty 2020 (year of the rat)

The customized aspect of zodiac-themed beauty parallels the personalization options in astrology and other New Age trends. One doesn't have to become a certified astrologer to enjoy horoscopes; they can pick and choose whatever suits them. Roy again: "[Millennials] dabble, they find what they like, they take what works for them and leave the rest...spiritual practices appeal to the commitment-wary: You can get a little into crystals or astrology or tarot, or a lot into it. You can buy a few rose quartzes or light a few candles and if it’s meaningful for you, keep it; if not, it’s not like you went through a full religious conversion."

As noted earlier, another time that was popular for customization was the "golden age" of compacts in the '40 and '50s, where many were engraved as personalized gifts or event keepsakes.  Some were even designed with spaces specifically to add monograms.  Perhaps that explains why two major compact manufacturers decided to add to their repertoire with zodiac lines.

Ziegfeld Girls zodiac compacts, 1946

Finally, on a more basic level, the visual appeal of zodiac imagery is fairly irresistible.  There are as many different ways to depict zodiac signs as there are artists.  Whether it's the caricatures illustrated by Stan MacNiel for Elgin, the refined style of Poudre d'Orsay, or the minimalist approach taken by Demeter, even if customers aren't astrology fans the designs will draw them in.  In looking at the Museum's zodiac collection one would suspect I obsessively read horoscope predictions and plan my life around the alignments of stars and planets, but I'm actually not into astrology. I check out my horoscope from time to time just for fun, but the reality is that I collect zodiac makeup mostly because I enjoy looking at the artwork. The fact that it's prominent in makeup history and belongs in a museum is, admittedly, simply an added bonus. The otherworldly nature of the creatures and constellations combined with the twelve symbol structure satisfies both the imagination and the need for orderliness. Plus as a former art history major, it's fascinating to see different artists' takes on the zodiac.

What object here is your favorite?  Would you ever try a makeup look or product based on your sign?

 

1Aileen Ribeiro, Facing Beauty, Yale University Press, 2011, p. 132.

2Barbara Holsopple, "A Longing for Things to Be Put Right", Pittsburgh Press, April 4, 1971.

3It's out of print, but if you're interested I bet this book is great if you're looking specifically for a cultural history of astrology. Or at least, it was the only one I could find.

4Mary Turczyn, "What is the Occult?", Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter, March 22, 1972.  She adds, "In a poll taken in 1967, 57% said that religion was losing its influence on American life.  With religion no longer the bulwark of society, people seek answers in other areas and astrology has rallied as one of these."

5For the purposes of expediency and so as not to be all over the place I chose to focus on the modern, Western zodiac rather than exploring the Chinese zodiac in beauty products.  I do wonder how far back it goes...I'm envisioning powder containers hundreds of years old in the shape of dragons and other Chinese zodiac animals.  Must research!


Soaring beauty: The butterfly in modern cosmetics

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition

Introduction
Welcome the Makeup Museum's spring 2020 exhibition!  "Soaring Beauty: The Butterfly in Modern Cosmetics" explores the many ways butterfly imagery is used across all aspects of beauty culture.  For 100 years the butterfly has been an endless source of inspiration for makeup artists and collections, ad campaigns and packaging.  As the butterfly is perhaps the ultimate symbol of transformation, there is no motif more appropriate to embody the metamorphosis that makeup can provide. Like flowers, various butterfly species are a favorite reference for makeup colors, textures and finishes.  More broadly, butterflies represent springtime, rebirth, hope, and freedom.  With "Soaring Beauty", the Makeup Museum seeks to embrace this optimistic spirit and provide a peaceful oasis in the midst of a very uncertain and trying time.

The exhibition focuses on 5 main elements of butterfly makeup, which I will examine briefly before getting to the main show.  Hover over the image for information, and additional details (when available) are listed in some of the captions.

I. Color
The vibrancy of butterflies' coloring and their wings' gossamer texture figure prominently in the beauty sphere. Makeup shades and artist creations include every tone from earthy moth browns and greens to bold blue and orange hues to slightly softer pastels.

Vogue Portugal September 2016, makeup by Michael Anthony
Vogue Portugal September 2016. Makeup: Michael Anthony; Photography: Jamie Nelson; Model: Zuzana Gregorova; Styling: Melaney Oldenhof; Hair: Linh Nguyen

Blanck Digital magazine, December 2016
(image from blanckdigital.com)

Makeup by Sheri Vargas
Editorial: "Ephemeral", spring 2013. Model: Lola; Hair & Makeup: Sheri Vegas; Photographer: Clara Copley

(image from designscene.net)

Makeup by Sheri Terry for Glamour New Zealand
(image from sheriterry.com)

Elle Ukraine, August 2012, makeup by Lloyd Simmonds
Elle Ukraine, August 2012, makeup by Lloyd Simmonds

(image from pinterest)

Quality Magazine, makeup by Hannah Burkhardt
Quality Magazine Germany. Hair and Makeup: Hannah Burckhardt; Photographer: Marco Rothenburger; Models: Krista Tcherneva and Alena N.; Styling: Jennifer Hahn

(image from pinterest)

As butterflies are largely synonymous with spring, rebirth and rejuvenation, the vast majority of butterfly-themed collections are released then and feature bright, fresh colors.

Revlon Butterfly Pink ad, 1958
This ad is racist AF but I thought it was important to include.

Artdeco spring 2013
(image from magi-mania.de)

However, some color stories reflect different seasons via butterflies' natural habitats. Chanel's summer 2013 collection featured rich greens and blues reminiscent of the tropical morpho butterfly, while Anastasia Beverly Hills and Colourpop's fall releases opted for warmer tones inspired by monarch butterflies and their migration in the cooler months.

L'été Papillon de Chanel, summer 2013

L'été Papillon de Chanel, summer 2013 - makeup by Peter Philips
(images from popsugar.com)

ABH Norvina 3 palette

Colourpop fall 2019
(images from anastasiabeverlyhills.com and ulta.com)

II. Texture and Finish
The delicate, lightweight nature of butterflies and the softness of their wings is repeatedly referenced in early 20th century advertisements for face powder.

Icilma advertising postcard, 1920s
(image from maudelynn.tumblr.com)

Lancome powder ad, 1935

Poudre Simon, ca. 1930s-1940s
(image from lesanneesfolles.ocnk.net)

Poudre Simon ad, 1941
(image from hprints.com)

Yardley ad, 1948
(image from wikimedia.org)

For Australian brand Lournay, the "butterfly touch" was an integral part of their marketing for two decades.

1940s Lournay ad

Lournay ad, 1950

Lournay ad, 1952

Lournay ad, 1955

As for finishes, butterfly-themed makeup excels at imparting an iridescent, pearlescent or metallic sheen that reflects light similarly to that of a butterfly's wing.  New technology is being developed to artificially yet seamlessly recreate the iridescent butterfly wing effect in cosmetics, among other areas.

Model Joan Smalls at Jean Paul Gaultier spring 2014 couture show, makeup by Lloyd Simmonds(images from vogue and stylecaster)

Emily Rogers butterfly lipstick, ca. 1965
(image from pinterest)

Lipstick Queen Butterfly Ball lipstick
"Inspired by the beauty of a butterfly's wing, these moisturizing lipsticks shimmer with a flash of turquoise iridescence that lights up the complexion and makes teeth appear whiter. In soft and whimsical shades of pink that flutter and float over lips, this collection of lipsticks brings a butterfly radiance to your entire look."

(image from lookfantastic.com)

Harpers Bazaar Netherlands, October 2015. Makeup by
Harper's Bazaar Netherlands, October 2015. Makeup Artist: Gina Kane; Photographer: Felicity Ingram; Model: Amy Verlaan; Creative director: Piet Paris; Hair Stylist: Anna Cofone

(image from pinterest)

The fascination with butterflies' iridescent quality is also expressed in "morpho" compacts of the 1920s and '30s.  These were made with real morpho butterfly wings or foil and commonly depicted tropical locales.  Popularized by jeweler Thomas Mott at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, morpho designs were also used in jewelry and other accessories. 

Morpho compacts(images from etsy and pinterest)

III. Movement
Butterfly beauty products embraced the notion of flight and the insects' graceful motion, at times linking them to dance or music to more fully capture the joyous, free-spirited movement of a butterfly soaring through the air.  K-beauty brand Holika Holika simply titles their butterfly embossed blushes "Fly", while jeweler Monica Rich Kosann named the compact she created for Estée Lauder "Butterfly Dance".  Pat McGrath's "techno butterflies" look at Dior's spring 2013 combines pastel "wings" with rhinestone details to impart a rave-like vibe.

Holika Holika Fly blushes

Butterfly Dance compact by Monica Rich Kosann for Estée Lauder
(image from neimanmarcus.com)

Dior spring 2013, makeup by Pat McGrath
(images from beautyfw.com)

But the fluttering movement of a butterfly is best captured in makeup via the eyelashes. 

Paperself deer and butterfly lashes
(image from paperself.com)

Vogue Portugal September 2016
Vogue Portugal September 2016. Makeup: Michael Anthony; Photography: Jamie Nelson; Model: Zuzana Gregorova; Styling: Melaney Oldenhof; Hair: Linh Nguyen


L'Oreal Butterfly Effect mascara ad
(image from pinterest)

Manish Arora spring 2020, makeup by Kabuki
(image from buro247.sg)

IV. Design
Butterflies proved to be a popular design element in general. As far back as the 1900s, jewelers created exquisitely detailed butterfly compacts made with fine glass and sterling silver, and many compact manufacturers incorporated the motif in their offerings.  The butterfly's more whimisical side is expressed in Max Factor's acrylic "Butterfly Kiss" set and more recently, in a Jill Stuart Beauty lip gloss filled with iridescent butterfly-shaped glitter.

Max Factor holiday ad, 1974
(image from pinterest)

Butterfly makeup design

  1.  Austrian sterling silver and glass compact, ca. 1920s
  2.  Lady Wilby compact, ca.
  3.  Jill Stuart Butterfly lip gloss, spring 2019
  4.  Vantine powder box, ca. 1923
  5. House of Sillage lipstick case (in collaboration with the film The Aeronauts), fall 2019
  6. Nacon compact, ca. 1982
  7. Volupte compact, ca. 1946-1952

V. Mood and Metamorphosis
Whether it's subdued or taking a more literal approach, butterfly inspired makeup is a universally recognized symbol for spring and transformation.  Many companies release items embossed with butterflies or incorporate them in the advertising for their spring campaigns to express the larger ideas of hope, joy, freedom and rejuvenation.

Lubin "Butterfly Bouquet" face powder, ca. 1920s
(image from worthpoint.com)

Guerlain ad, 1965
(image from hprints)

Clinique Fresh Bloom ad, spring 2007 - collection of the Makeup Museum

Shown here are Pop Beauty, Mark and Paul & Joe blushes/bronzers/highlighters from spring 2012 and a spring 2016 Clinique GWP bag with a Vera Neumann butterfly print.

Spring butterfly makeup, collection of the Makeup Museum

The theme of metamorphosis is reinforced through the fusing of faces and butterflies. By adhering butterflies to the cheeks, lips and even eyes, the effect is a physical transformation intended to turn the mundane into the magical and capture the essence of the butterfly as it emerges from its cocoon.

Lady Gaga on V Magazine, 2011
(image from fashionista.com)

Schon Magazine, Issue 19
Schon Magazine, Issue 19 (fall 2012), makeup by Elias Hove

(image from trendhunter.com)

Giambattista Valli, fall 2012
"The Garden of Eden theme continued with the make-up – glitter eyes beneath net masks to look like delicate mythical creatures, and butterflies on the models’ lips as though the insects had just landed there for a moment." - Jessica Bumpus for British Vogue

(image from vogue.com)

An outstanding example of this concept is the spring 2020 runway show by Manish Arora.  Makeup artist Kabuki was responsible for the dazzling, otherworldly looks.  Some of the models were drag queens, emphasizing the transformational nature of both makeup and butterflies.

Manish Arora spring 2020

Manish Arora spring 2020

Manish Arora spring 2020(images from buro247.sg)

As noted in part 1 of the introduction, butterfly-inspired makeup usually features an array of colors found on various butterfly species. However, when combined with butterfly application directly to facial features, barely-visible makeup speaks to butterflies' undomesticated environment and conveys the human bond with nature. 

Dazed magazine, June 2012
Dazed magazine, June 2012. Makeup: Peter Phillips; Hair: Syd Hayes; Photographer: Ben Toms; Model: Elza Luijendijk; Stylist: Robbie Spencer 
Dazed and Confused magazine, June 2012
Dazed magazine, June 2012. Makeup: Peter Phillips; Hair: Syd Hayes; Photographer: Ben Toms; Model: Elza Luijendijk; Stylist: Robbie Spencer 

(images from fashiongonerogue.com)

 

Exhibition
All of the above elements are well represented throughout the objects in the exhibition.  So let's get to it!

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition

Top row, left to right.

Let me just say that the story of Lucretia Vanderbilt makes Tiger King look tame by comparison.  I tried to summarize it the best I could, but for the full story head over to Collecting Vintage Compacts.

Lucretia vanderbilt

Lucretia Vanderbilt compact

Lucretia Vanderbilt powder box

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Possibly my favorite pieces in the exhibition and one of my all-time favorites: Chantecaille Les Papillons eyeshadows and Garden in Kyoto palette.

Chantecaille Les Papillons and Garden in Kyoto palette

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

I had to do several labels to cover the Mamechiyo and Chinese New Year collections for this shelf.  I was also going to include the Lisa Kohno collaboration, but given the lack of space and the fact that there's another Shu collection in the exhibition I left it out.

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year 2016 and Mamechiyo collection

Butterfly kite by Zhang Xiaodong

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Shu uemura mamechiyo beauty

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Shu Uemura boutique ceiling by Mamechiyo

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

I'm hoping to dig up more information on the artist behind the design on this Stratton palette, which may be tricky as his archives are located in the UK.

Stratton butterfly compact by Holmes Gray

Dior makeup ad, spring 1985, makeup by Tyen

Dior makeup ad, spring 1985

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

I couldn't find much information on the inspiration behind Marcel Wanders' compact for Cosme Decorte.  I'd love to know how he came up with the design.  All I know is that the model in this video is wearing a dress made with the same pattern.

Cosme Decorte Marcel Wanders Romantic Butterfly compact

Cosme Decorte Marcel Wanders Romantic Butterfly compact

Slightly better shot of the powder so you can see the lovely little butterfly details.

Cosme Decorte Marcel Wanders Romantic Butterfly compact

Cosme Decorte Marcel Wanders Romantic Butterfly compact

Cosme Decorte Marcel Wanders Romantic Butterfly compact
(promo images from cosmedecorte.com)

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Anna Sui butterfly makeup

Anna Sui butterfly blush

Anna Sui (runway images from vogue.com)

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

MAC Madame B pamphlet, spring 2005

MAC Madame B pamphlet, spring 2005

Gucci Sunstone Illuminator

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

I wish I could have found a little more info on the Hampden brand and DuBarry's Vanessa face powder.  I remember adoring the 3D butterfly in my brief history of DuBarry but could not find any reference specifically to Vanessa.

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Hampden and Dubarry Vanessa face powder

Hampden face powder, ca. 1931-1945

Dubarry Vanessa face powder

Dubarry Vanessa face powder box detail

Third row, left to right.

Lancome Butterflies Fever, 2011

Alexis Mabille

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

You might remember I featured the La Jaynees powder box in the spring 2016 exhibition.  I managed to scrounge up a rouge box. No rouge, but the box is lovely on its own.  Once again Collecting Vintage Compacts did an amazing brand history.

La Jaynees face powder and rouge box

La Jaynees face powder and rouge box

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Recent acquisition, which you can read more about here.

Sulwhasoo x Antoinette Poisson, spring 2020

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

I wish I could have cleaned up this Avon palette a little better, but I was afraid of damaging it.  However, one in better condition and with the original box popped up on ebay, so get ready for new photos!

Vintage Avon butterfly palette

Vintage Avon butterfly palette

I wonder if Sears has archives that I could look at to find out anything about their cosmetic line.

Sears makeup ad, 1968

Bottom row, left to right.

I have the lipstick somewhere but am unable to locate it at the moment.  What I really regret is not buying the accompanying Météorites powder or pressed powder compact, but they were so pricey and at the time I just couldn't afford them.

Guerlain Midnight Butterfly eyeshadow, holiday 2008

Guerlain Midnight Butterfly promo and bottle

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

More Shu!

Shu Morphorium palettes, spring 2011

Shu Morphorium palettes, spring 2011

Shu Morphorium promo, spring 2011

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

I was unable to find any information at all on this powder box, but yet again Collecting Vintage Compacts had everything on the Jaciel brand.

Geo. F. Foster powder box

Vintage Jaciel compact

Jaciel ad, 1928
(Advertisement image from Collecting Vintage Compacts)

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Some more items that were included in the spring 2016 exhibition.

Paul & Joe spring 2016 palettes

For the life of me I couldn't get decent pictures of them on the shelves so here are the images from my original post on them.

Paul & Joe spring 2016 palette

Paul & Joe spring 2016 palettes

Paul & Joe spring 2016 palettes

Paul & Joe spring 2016 palettes

Paul & Joe spring 2016

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

There was one more item I wanted to include, but couldn't fit it so I'm using a photo from when I wrote about it.

Urban Decay Alice Through the Looking Glass palette, spring 2016

Makeup Museum spring 2020 exhibition label

Exhibition Notes
I had been wanting to cover the butterfly theme for about 8 years now.  An article on butterfly compacts called "High Fliers" in the February 2017 issue of the BCCS newsletter also inspired me. I wish I could have written a deep think piece on the idea of makeup as metamorphosis or was able to do more research besides what's online, but given the current situation I kept it simple and decided to save my energy for different topics that I can tackle when the libraries reopen, which will hopefully happen in the summer. (I discovered some local university libraries may have the resources I'm looking for, but I cannot access them remotely as I'm not a student or faculty member.) But access to certain archives might have allowed some examples of runway/editorial butterfly makeup that's older than 2012 and more images featuring models of color.  And I know it seems like I included every instance of butterflies in makeup that is at my disposal, but I promise it was thoughtfully edited (curated, if you will.)  There were actually even more looks that I wanted to include but got frustrated at the lack of basic information about them like the makeup artist or year.  As for the objects themselves, I don't think any of them are vegan or cruelty-free, even though some of the companies that made them are now cruelty-free/vegan, such as Chantecaille.

Decor Notes
The husband did an amazing job of "butterflying" the Museum's logo for the exhibition poster and labels.  I was going to buy a paper butterfly garland or use the mini paper butterflies I had gotten for Instagram props in the exhibition, but in the end decided it was too gimmicky (and the garland reminded me too much of a baby shower for some reason.)  I figured given the current space the focus should be more on the ads and objects.  But if the Makeup Museum occupied a physical space, here is some art I would include as decor.  It would be like stepping into a very artsy butterfly garden!

Paper butterflies by Rebecca Coles
(image from rebeccajcoles.co.uk)

Eiji Watanabe(image from mymodernmet.com)

David Kracov, Gift of Life
(image from eden-gallery.com)

Merle Axelrad, Butterfly Effect, 2015
(image from axelradart.com)

Christopher Marley, Exquisite Creatures

Christoperh Marley, Exquisite Creatures
(images from @omsi)

And that wraps it up!  Remember you can participate in the exhibition - find out how here.  In the meantime, one easy way to weigh in is to tell me what your favorite objects, looks or ads were (either in the intro or main exhibition or both) and why. :)


MM Mailbag: Revlon Couturine lipstick

I love when I get an inquiry to which I can actually give a solid response.  A gentleman sent in this picture he had of an old lipstick and asked if I could identify it and provide any sense of its monetary value.

MM-inquiry-lipstick

I recognized it immediately as one of the Revlon Couturines doll lipsticks released between 1961 and 1963.  But which one?  The only one I recognize off the top of my head is Liz Taylor as Cleopatra, since it's pretty obvious. 

Revlon-Liz-Taylor-Cleopatra

Fortunately the Revlon Couturines appear in Lips of Luxury (which I highly recommend for any beauty aficionado - check out my review here and in-person pics here.)  According to the photos in the book it's not Marilyn Monroe.

Revlon-Marilyn-Monroe

Or Ava Gardner.

Revlon-Ava-Gardner

So it must be one of these ladies.

Revlon-couturines-lipsticks

Aha!  Looks like it's Jackie Kennedy (last one on the right.)

Revlon-couturine-lipsticks

What's fascinating to me about the submitter's photo is that his doll appears to be wearing a little fur stole around her neck, whereas in the photo from the book she doesn't have one.  As for the value, Revlon Couturines can fetch a pretty hefty price.  Even though the photo is blurry, the one submitted to me looks to be in excellent condition.  And given that she has a stole, which I'm assuming is original (the original Marilyn Monroe figurine has neckwear as well, which isn't shown in the picture in Lips of Luxury), that would probably increase the value.  I think a fair asking price would be $150-$250.  At the moment I don't even see any Jackie figurines for sale. 

What do you think of these?  This post reminds me that I really need to track down at least one for the Museum - I can't believe I don't own any.  Another one (or 8) to add to the old wishlist.

Update, 2/6/2020:  It only took 5.5 years, but I finally procured a few of these lovely ladies for the Museum! 

Revlon Couturine lipstick cases, 1962

I am sorry to say that I can confirm these are not cruelty-free.  As a matter of fact, Revlon made it a point to highlight the "genuine" mink, fox and chinchilla used.  How times have changed.  I'm also wondering whether all the ones listed for sale over the years as having brown mink are actually fox fur, as indicated in the ad below.  Then again, this was the only ad I saw that referenced fox fur, so maybe the brown ones are mink as well.

Ad for Revlon Couturine lipsticks, December 1962

The white mink one is not in the best shape - there's a little bit of wear on the paint on her lips and discoloration around her "waist" - but she does have the original box.  I'm suspecting the black mark is remnants of a belt, as shown here.  (Apologies for changing the background in these photos but I was shooting across several days and was too lazy to retrieve the paper I had used originally.)

Revlon Couturine doll lipstick with white mink, ca. 1962

The chinchilla-clad lady, however, is basically new in the box.  One hundred percent museum quality!

Revlon Couturine doll lipstick with chinchilla fur, ca. 1962

From what I was able to piece together from newspaper ads, the ones without animal fur were advertised as "mannequins" and originally released in 1961, while the chinchilla, fox and mink ones were referred to as "girls" and debuted during the holiday season of 1962.  Both series fell under the Couturine name. 

Ad for Revlon couturine lipstick, 1962

There were originally 12 designs, according to this ad.  Of course, you paid a little more for the Mannequins with hats and jewelry. 

Revlon couturine lipstick ad, 1961

Most of them were similar but had a few details switched up.  This is especially true for the Girls series. For example, the brown mink/fox one I procured has the same color velvet at the bottom and one pair of rhinestones, but the one in Lips of Luxury has pink velvet and 4 rhinestones.  The colors of the velvet and type of fur were also mixed and matched.

Revlon-couturine-variations
(images from Sun Shine)

But one question remains.  I'm wondering where Jean-Marie Martin Hattemberg, whose book Lips of Luxury I referenced earlier, retrieved his information.  Obviously I don't think he just made up the idea that each Couturine was intended to be a replica of an actress or other famous woman.  But I'm so curious to know how he came to that conclusion since I've never seen them advertised or referred to that way anywhere other than his book.  Perhaps he knew someone at Revlon who designed them?  Or maybe they were marketed differently outside of the U.S.?  In any case, there's no mention of the chinchilla Couturine and several other of the original 12 dolls in Lips of Luxury, so I'm not sure who they're supposed to be.  Hopefully one of these days I'll solve another makeup mystery. ;)

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Look here: vintage lipstick mirrors

As with lipstick holders and tissues, another piece of makeup ephemera has seem to gone nearly extinct:  the built-in lipstick mirror.  Sure, there are still some run-of-the-mill fabric and leather lipstick cases with mirrors inside, and some contemporary companies have recycled the basic designs, but no current lipstick mirrors are as novel as their vintage counterparts.  Today I'll take a look (haha) at the various vintage contraptions and mechanisms that allowed for a quick lipstick touch-up.  As usual this exploration is not intended to be a comprehensive history of lipstick mirrors, but a brief overview and theories as to why they have mostly disappeared from the beauty milieu as well as the reasons they were even produced in the first place.

The simplest design consisted of a mirrored tube, favored by the likes of Avon and Flame-Glo.

Vintage Avon mirrored lipstick tube
(image from etsy.com)

Flame Glo mirro-matic ad, July 1959

The second most basic and inexpensive option was the humble lipstick clip, which attached directly to the lipstick tube.  The adjustable design meant that it could fit virtually any tube and was easily removable. 

C-lip lipstick mirror ad, September 1946

C-Lip lipstick mirror clip on advertisement, July 1947

Vintage Lip Vue lipstick mirror clip on(image from ebay.com)

Coty24 ad, Feb. 13, 1957

I purchased a couple of these clips for the Museum's collection.  Here we have the "Looky" mirror, which was patented in 1957, and Compliments, which most likely dates to around the same time.

Vintage Looky and Compliments lipstick mirrors

Vintage Looky and Compliments lipstick mirrors

The only design flaw with these types of mirrored tubes and clip-on mirrors was that they would be easily smudged since the mirror was exposed.  Enter the folding lipstick mirror and clip!  Elizabeth Arden's Rolling Mirror lipstick debuted in 1959, and while I couldn't find an exact date for Stratton LipViews, they probably were released around the same time and continued to be sold until the early '90s.

Elizabeth Arden Rolling Mirror lipstick ad, Dec. 1960

US3159163-drawings-EA-1960

Elizabeth Arden Golden Rolling lipstick mirror ad, Dec. 1960

Stratton lipview

Stratton lipview
(images from etsy.com)

Avon also made a far less elegant plastic version.

Avon clip on lip mirror

The mirror could also be protected from smudges and scratches via a sliding mechanism instead of a folding one, as shown in this fan-shaped Stratton lipstick holder.

Vintage fan-shaped Stratton lipstick mirror

Stratton fan-shaped lipstick mirror

These next few will put a spring in your step.  Spring-loaded, sliding cases in which the mirror popped up when the lipstick was opened were also quite popular.  Shown here is Volupté's Lip Look, which dates to 1949-1950.  Elgin, Elizabeth Arden and Kotler and Kolpit offered similar cases.

Vintage Volupté Lip Look lipstick mirror

Vintage Volupté Lip Look lipstick mirror

Elizabeth Arden "Looking Glass" lipstick ad 1936

US2121221-drawings-1936

Elgin lipstick mirror ad, Dec. 1953

Vintage Stratton lipstick mirror

Given how many came up in my search for lipstick mirrors at Ebay and Etsy, it appears that the most widely available model of the spring-loaded variety of lipstick mirrors was a silver carved case accented by gemstones.  They're unmarked, meaning no particular company patented the design and choice of metal.  I believe they were mostly sold in department and jewelry stores.

Vintage sliding case lipstick mirror

Vintage sliding case lipstick mirror
(images from etsy.com)

Despite the silver cases' ubiquity, I'd say the most recognized name-brand spring-loaded lipstick mirror was Max Factor's Hi-Society, which was heavily advertised from their debut in 1958 through approximately 1965.

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick ad, 1959

You might remember I featured these in the Museum's holiday 2016 exhibition.  I'm still hunting down all the designs, which actually isn't difficult given how many the company produced. 

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick cases

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick case ad, 1959

Max Factor Hi-Society lipstick cases

US2830602-drawings-1958

Next up is a more complex version of the folding mirror.  Instead of a tube clip, this was an entire folding hand mirror with the lipstick hidden within the handle.  Here's an unmarked, super blingy version.  Stratton also made a bunch.

vintage folding lipstick mirror

folding lipstick mirror ad, May 1, 1953

Here are some rather dainty petit point and floral versions by Schildkraut.

Vintage Schildkraut folding lipstick mirror

Vintage Schildkraut folding lipstick mirror
(images from ebay.com)

Vintage Schildkraut folding lipstick mirror
(images from ebay.com)

Schildkraut's represent possibly the earliest form of lipstick mirrors, judging from the patent.

US1439749-drawings-page-1

The folding model's popularity continued well into the 1960s, as evidenced by Kigu's "Flipette".

Kigu Flipette lipstick

Kigu Flipette lipstick

Kigu Flipette lipstick
(images from etsy.com)

Kigu Flippette lipstick ad, 1964
(image from vintage-compacts.com)

Finally, there are the handle inserts.  This item from Revlon would appear to be a regular hand mirror, but the lipstick is cleverly hidden in the handle.  It was introduced in 1950 as the "biggest news in lipsticks since swivels were born".  How very exciting.

Vintage Revlon lipstick mirror/wand

Vintage Revlon lipstick mirror/wand

Revlon lipstick mirror ad, March 1950

Of course, Max Factor upped the design ante with their "Doll Set" lipsticks, which were introduced in 1967.

Max Factor doll lipstick ad, 1967

Max Factor doll lipstick

Max Factor doll lipstick
(images from pinterest)

Now that we have a good sense of the types of mirrors that were available, let's spend a little time thinking about why they were made, or at least, why the advertising claimed they were the greatest things since sliced bread.  The first reason built-in lipstick mirrors were a necessity - again, according to the advertising at the time - was the ease provided by a fused lipstick and mirror.  Presumably women who wore lipstick also would have also carried around mirrored powder compacts, which could be used for lipstick touch-ups.  Fumbling around in your purse for a mirrored compact when you just needed to touch up your lips and not your face powder, apparently, was too difficult to handle on a regular basis.  As this 1935 newspaper blurb states, "Keeping lipstick and mirror together is the biggest trouble."  Oh, the horror!  (Bonus points for the blatant racism at the beginning of the piece.) 

Detroit Free Press, Aug 13, 1935

Such a "harrowing experience" to not be able to find a mirror!

Volupte Lip-look ad, Oct. 1, 1949

The second reason was that the lack of digging around for a mirror meant lipstick could be applied more discreetly, you know, for "when you want to sneak a look while the boyfriend's back is turned." (More bonus points for the weight/food shaming piece below the lipstick article.)  Much like lipstick tissues, lipstick mirrors were meant to be used to avoid an etiquette faux pas.

The Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 4, 1939

This 1940 column takes the idea of discretion a step further.  As we've seen time and time again, a woman's makeup habits are dictated by what men think.  "We suspect that the bold-face manner of applying lipstick is due for a set-back as a table pastime.  Recently we heard more than one rumor that men are expressing a dislike for the practice.  And it is a smeary, messy looking operation for a beloved with his own dreams about a natural beauty.  Better keep him, if not guessing, then not too much in-the-know about your coloring source."  Heaven forbid a man actually see a woman mend her lipstick!  Ladies, please keep your silly frivolous face painting to yourself so as not to ruin TEH MENZ' unrealistic expectations of so-called natural beauty.  I can't roll my eyes hard enough. 

NY Daily News, Feb. 23, 1940

Thirdly, one can't be seen with a beat-up compact.  Women should always present the prettiest possible cosmetic cases when in public.  Seriously though, at least this 1956 clip is straightforward in proclaiming that a lipstick mirror is merely aesthetically pleasing instead of a necessary accessory in the battles against flaunting your makeup application and a messy purse in which no separate mirror can be easily unearthed.  Just a little dose of "extra glamour".

The Journal News, Feb. 10, 1956

And of course, let's not forget that as part of their goal of making a healthy profit, beauty companies are forever trying to invent another superfluous gadget or product and declaring it the next must-have.  Perhaps lipstick mirrors were the mid-century version of vibrating mascaras.  In any case, despite the lack of popularity for the built-in lipstick mirror as well as the cynicism of modern-day makeup wearers like myself, several brands forged ahead with attempting to resurrect the lipstick mirror over the past 20 years or so.

In late 1999, with much fanfare, Givenchy introduced their Rouge Miroir lipstick designed by by sculptor Pablo Reinoso. Reinoso became Givenchy's Artistic Director for their fragrance and beauty line shortly after the lipsticks' release. 

The March 2000 issue of Vibe magazine proclaimed the sleek, futuristic design to be the height of convenience: "No more knives or rearview mirrors".  Wait, who uses a knife to apply lipstick?!

Givenchy Rouge Miroir
(image from amazon.com)

A year or two later, Estée Lauder launched their Pure Color lipstick line.  I believe these mirrored cases came out in the mid-2000s when Pure Color lipsticks were at their height.

Estée Lauder Pure Color lipstick
(image from amazon.com)

Some more recent examples I found include this mirrored tube from Kailijumei, a brand best known for their "flower jelly" lipsticks. 

Kailijumei
(image from kailijumei.com)

Guerlain's Rouge G series was introduced in the spring of 2018 and comes in a variety of collectible cases (and, duh, I'm working on acquiring them all).  The mechanism is similar to Stratton's in that they won't close unless there's a lipstick bullet inside.  While practical, it makes for quite the hassle to take photos of the cases only as they keep popping open.  I have to tape them closed, which is a less expensive option than buying lipstick bullets to go in each case.

Guerlain Rouge G

Guerlain Rouge G open

Finally, I spotted this folding lipstick mirror from J-beauty brand Creer Beaute, which was included in their 2018 Sailor Moon-themed collection.

Creer beauty sailor neptune

Creer Beauty Sailor Neptune folding lipstick mirror
(images from alphabeauty.net)

Still, these designs are not nearly as common as their predecessors from the early-mid 20th century.  Why did the popularity of the built-in lipstick mirror fade over time?  One theory is that lipstick packaging with built-in mirrors is more expensive than non-mirrored packaging, and therefore, not as appealing to consumers.  Guerlain's Rouge Gs, for example, cost $55 ($33 for the bullet and $22 for case) while their KissKiss lipsticks are priced at $37.  Going further back in time, Elgin's spring-loaded mirrored case by itself was $5.50, while the price of an average lipstick was $1.10.  Why pay for a mirrored lipstick case if you (most likely) already have another mirror available?  Yes, you might have to dig around in your purse a bit, but at least it won't be lighter for having spent money on a lipstick/mirror combo.  This theory could also explain why clip-on mirrors were seemingly everywhere, as they were the cheaper route to fusing lipstick and mirror. 

Another theory for the continuing disinterest in built-in lipstick mirrors could be that for the last 5-10 years there's been increasing demand for less, or at least recyclable, packaging.  While some higher-end brands are refillable, most lipsticks sold with a built-in mirror don't appear to have a refill option, and consumers may be less likely to buy a mirrored lipstick tube knowing yet another packaging component will eventually end up in the ocean.  Plus, while the new designs are relatively slim, they're still bulkier than lipsticks without built-in mirrors.  The majority of beauty consumers, myself included, don't want anything taking up more room in their purse or makeup bag. 

Finally, I believe beauty consumers are savvier than they were in the early days of the industry and are less susceptible to marketing and gadgets.  A built-in lipstick mirror may have been considered revolutionary in the '40s because swivel tube lipstick had been invented just a few decades prior, but by the '70s these mirrors may have seemed old hat.  So certainly by the 21st century we know these designs are not truly a breakthrough, nor are they anything that would be considered a necessity.  I featured no fewer than 6 Kailijumei lipsticks in the Museum's spring 2017 rainbow-themed exhibition, and just now noticed there were mirrors on the tubes.  The fact that the mirror didn't even register with me, a person who enjoys re-applying her makeup and has spent countless hours poring over product packaging, until now when I'm actually discussing lipstick mirrors shows just how unnecessary a built-in lipstick mirror is.  And again, the majority of beauty consumers is likely to be carrying a compact mirror anyway, rendering a lipstick with a built-in mirror redundant.  We also know that makeup companies update older designs and market them differently to see what sticks.  To cite Guerlain's Rouge G, the description at the website highlights how the user can select both the color and case to suit their individual taste.  "Every woman is unique...choose your lipstick from a wide range of shades to match your look: from the most nude to the most extravagant.  Choose your case from an array of styles – from the most timeless to the most trendy".  Rouge G has the same basic mechanism as the spring-loaded lipsticks of yore - it's especially similar to Max Factor's Hi-Society with the array of designs - but the marketing focuses on the customizable aspects (a concept that has spiked in popularity over the last two or so years...I've been meaning to write something about the craze for name engraving/customization) rather than the newness and convenience of a dedicated lipstick mirror.

What do you think of the built-in lipstick mirror?  Would you consider it a must-have?  While I certainly appreciate the aesthetics, it's nowhere near a necessity for me.


A "presentation of beautiful facial lines": makeup drawings by Alexander Bogardy

Alexander-Bogardy-portrait
Alexander Bogardy

If you haven't already checked out Beauty and the Cat's blog, I highly recommend it - not only is this duo chock full of useful information on beauty, they're hilarious to boot.  A few months ago they posted some very interesting makeup drawings on their IG stories and naturally I had to find out more about them.  After Beauty and the Cat assured me they weren't going to write about them and gave me their blessing to do so (I don't want to steal other bloggers' potential content!) I decided to forge ahead with a post on the illustrated makeup guides of Alexander Bogardy (1901-1992).  The self-taught Bogardy has been classified as both an outsider artist and a folk artist, which is evident in his simplistic style.

Bogardy was born in Hungary, most likely in 1901*.  His family came to the U.S. when he was a small child and settled, of all places, right here in Baltimore.  He was a man of many talents, studying violin at the Peabody Conservatory (which is a block away from Museum headquarters!) in the 1920s, and in the '30s he had switched to boxing, becoming a prize fighter known as "The Baltimore Kid".  By the '40s he had moved to DC to study mechanical engineering at George Washington University and worked as a machinist in the U.S. Naval Gun Factory.  Unfortunately, crippling arthritis forced him into early retirement in 1952.  It was during this time that Bogardy began taking painting and cosmetology classes, as he was encouraged by his doctors to continue doing some light activity with his hands to stave off further deterioration from the arthritis. While it's not certain if he actually worked at a salon, he certainly cut and colored the hair of his close friends and family, and often gave away his paintings to them.  A lifelong devout Catholic - he attended mass every single day - most of his work depicted Biblical stories and religious figures.  Personally, I'm an atheist who never had any interest in religious imagery (despite having somehow attended two Jesuit universities - go figure), but I'm struck by the female figures in Bogardy's paintings.  The women are usually shown sporting full-on makeup, brightly painted fingernails and perfectly coiffed hair, reflecting his fascination with beauty rituals.

Alexander Bogardy, Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread, c. 1955-1970

In 1962 Bogardy completed a booklet on hair styles and general hair care entitled "The Hair and its Social Importance".  It served as both a hair care guide and an outline of his cosmetology accomplishments, including his diploma from Warflynn Beauty College in DC and a letter from the Clairol Institute regarding a hair coloring competition he had entered a decade earlier.  He didn't win, but just the fact that he had received any type of correspondence following up on the competition made him believe he was an award-winning hair color expert, and only served to intensify his joy of sharing his cosmetology expertise with others.  As historians Margaret Parsons and Marsha Orgeron note in this article in Raw Vision magazine, "It is certainly a feature of the art of Bogardy’s self-styling that he perceived recognition in so many guises, and that he derived so much apparent pleasure and pride from sharing with others an appreciation of his work in the applied crafts of cosmetology."  They also speculate that part of Bogardy's interest in cosmetics came from his Hungarian heritage.  "Born in 1902, he was about the same age as two American beauty tycoons of Hungarian origin, Erno Laszlo and Estée Lauder. The distinctive successes of these two, who were both from working-class immigrant families, would have appealed to Bogardy’s sense of ethnic pride and upward mobility."  

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

After some 20-odd years of painting and illustrating, sometime in the 1970s, Bogardy abandoned his artistic pursuits to take up flamenco dancing.  It makes sense given how diverse his interests were, and the fact that he comes across as fairly eccentric.  Speaking of which, let's get to the makeup illustrations, shall we?  According to the Smithsonian, where I was able to gather all the images, these illustrations were completed sometime between 1960 and 1970 and consisted of pencil drawings on 11" x 14" paper.  They were divided into five sections showing five basic face shapes, and were further broken down into makeup categories - brows, mascara, eyeshadow and liner, foundation, powder, lip color, and blush, highlighter and contour placement - and provided detailed instructions for each facial type.  At the top of each face type illustration Bogardy writes a short thought on female beauty, and at the bottom explains how to identify a particular face shape.  While the face shapes differ, the eyebrow advice on each side is the same:  "To find where the brows are to start, hold a straight line up from the nose on either side and remove stragglers in the middle.  Pluck brows from below.  The termination of the brow toward the temple must not reach past the line of observation drawn from the tip of the nose to the outer corner of the eye and continue upward beyond the end of the brow.  This point of intersection where the line of observation crosses the eyebrow is therefore the length of the brow."  Interestingly, this advice is more or less still prescribed today - you can find where your brows should start and end by lining up a pencil on the side of your nose.

Here's the "circular type face":

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The "rhythmic diamond type face":

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The "symphonic rectangular type face":

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The "melodious square type face":

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

And finally, the "Romantic Inverted Triangle type face":

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The drawings are a pleasure to behold, with the technicality and precision of their lines demonstrating Bogardy's previous experience in engineering.  This is a bit of a contrast to the messy, sometimes confusing prose surrounding them.  Though it's neatly rendered, as well as being historically useful in that it might shed some additional light onto beauty schools' curricula during the '50s, overall the text reads like a beauty- and religion-inspired word salad.  Spiritual or mystical references are scattered throughout basic beauty tips.  As Parsons and Orgeron put it, "Delicate disembodied hands hold small brushes and apply make-up to mannequins.  Around the edges are animated and often incoherent lessons on female beauty, godliness and the finer points of cosmetic application."  I'm glad I'm not the only one who couldn't quite grasp what he was trying to say!  Bogardy began each section of the beauty notebook with drawings entitled "propitious and serene countenance of providential. sequel".  I honestly have no idea what he what that means - perhaps it was an opening prayer for a book of makeup psalms.  The rest of the text on these pages addresses the features and makeup that will be discussed in the coming sections. 

"Eyelashes:  the prancing the dancing and gliding admonition of youth, the manifestation of joyful and hilarious entity convey forth envious intensity of astonishment in its blaze of enthusiastical beauty."

"Eyebrows:  A vivacious design of nobleness in the accentuation and the grandeur of the eye in quest of endearment in the field of esthetic faculty."

"Eyeshadow:  the gracious and dignified ornamentation heads symbolism of external evidence of confiding in the ostentation of perspicuous beauty."

"Eyeliner: heighlights [sic] and dramatizes the eye in a grotesque illusion of flight the youthful significance of tender years to glow in the evening and glitter throughout the night."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Lips:  Relaxed lips reflect a picture on which to meditate a medly [sic] of vibrant colors, the stimulating emotion formulate a decisive allure in encouragement to feminity and the furtherance in lineation of lip beauty."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Facial contour:  in the summarization of the countenance of milady correlate to achieve the distinctiveness of portrayal to emulate your imported perfection in the beautiful design of the face."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"The assemblage of vigoration, even though by modification yet it is the doctrine of enlightenment to augment or diminish the augur passion for a tenacious existance [sic] in the world of the beautiful."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

For your reading pleasure I have also transcribed most of the lengthy text for the makeup categories - thank goodness the Smithsonian offers a zoom feature so I could get up close.  This was not nearly as painstaking as I imagine it was for Bogardy to write out the same text for each and every drawing.  At first I thought he had traced it somehow, but upon further inspection it looks like he wrote out the same text for each individual illustration, changing only a few sentences related to face shape. 

Let's start at the top of the face with the brows and work our way down the face.  The text at the top for each one reads:  "Eyebrows the arch of beauty, the setting character of the face, its revealing charm add untold and neverending joy to the make-up, in the presentation of beautiful facial lines.  Since its great importance creates determination in your expression it must indeed add to the characteristic in the beautification of the face and further add sublimity to the countenance; beautifully arched eyebrows accentuate to the lovliness [sic] of your forehead, the revelation of your personality the irresistable [sic] magnetism the captivating power to eliviate [sic] and achieve beauty in facial transformation far removed from your fondest dream.  One look at your artistically shaped brows will invite another and most certainly a delightfully furtive look and lo, the deliverance of a beauty into the arms of beau monde."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Feminine allure means make-up in its entirety a beautiful figure together with make-up, so artistically blended as to modulate a peerless extravaganza, therefore, the eyebrow make-up, eyebrows should start at a point and above and even with the eye duct and the eyebrows terminate at the line of observation, drawn from the flare of the nose to the outside corner of the eye and upward to the temple.  To be in unison with the above paragraph you must have natural brow line for it is the eyebrows which give that authentic and picturesque expression to the face.  Use dark brown brow pencil on dark, red and naturally black brows, use light brown on blond brows.  Sharpen your brow pencil with a razor blade, trace brows with a short sketchy hairlike stroke, to assume brow lashes; after penciling, brush your brows gently with an eyelash brush to soften the brow line and should follow your natural line."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The text on the right side provides brow instructions for that particular face shape, while the left side drawing indicates the measurements for the brow arch.  I adore how scientific and precise the diagram is.

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Next up is eyeliner.  Top and left side text:  "The serenade for our beautiful women is something magical in transforming an already pretty face to a re-dedicated beautiful countenance of perfection through the glorious enchantment of colors in make-up.  It is indeed a resplendent presentation to dedicate this asignment [sic] to the lining of the eye or eyeliner, it is so called for it has a tendency to increase or decrease the space of the eyes to afford accent and to become a mark of distinction and indeed to enhance the eye and to further add brilliancy and beauty for daytime and evening wear.  The dramatic touch of colors for the eyeliner may be blue black; brown or charcoal, green or match the color of the mascara."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Eyeliner is a mark of beauty which gives prominence to the eye, it accentuates eyelashes and outlines the eyes in such a manner as to give it everlasting spark, fire and warmth, the governor of the inner feeling and indeed visible traces of charm.  The eyeliner brings forth by means of this beautiful eye marking artistically applied to the upper eyelid at the very base of the lashes; this eyeline addition is so pronounced as to accomplish the objective in alterations in facial lines through illusion.  The action movement you may observe above in the application of color to the eyelid to form the eyelining, and also showing the eyelid being held taut to allow for a clean and fine eyelining.  Note:  the termination of the eyeliner is upward and reflects extra eyelashes and concludes a photographic medium."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Since memory serves beauty correctly with beatitude and the elevation of thought to dignified outlook of a new and astute personality through the noble art of eyelining which places great significance upon the eye as a whole and certainly the face exhibits magnificence and since an eyeliner emphasizes your eye in such a magnitude as to accentuate the lashes and outline the eyes care must be taken as to how this beautiful addition of eyelining must be placed so as to bring forth the richness the softness and brilliance of the eyes.  In the classification of type faces the eyeliner plays an influential nobleness in the eye make-up, therefore this great mark of beauty significantly outlined in the scope of this phrase, the study and application of the eyeliner, the distinguished mark of embellishment."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

This time the individualized instructions are on the left side of the drawing.

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Moving onto eyeshadow, here's the text at the top:  "Glamor an artifice of glorification, mistified [sic] by the magic touch of color nourished by imagination and placed high upon the scale of beauty, through the medium of optical illusion, thereby improving upon the gift of nature.  She alters her face with paints and powder, lighting her face and a pinkish touch she adds and behold she darkens her brows and brightens her lids; therefore the ladylike look is certainly high fashion, for it depends on flawless grooming for that smooth, young and luminous look effervescence of the eyeshadow which creates the illusion of depth and expresses your mood.  We cannot stress the point to [sic] strongly and to enumerate an eyeshadow to enhance the color of the eyes to compliment the eyelashes and to make your eyes what you want them to be, an illusion of beauty of charm and of course the window of endearment and beau ideal for naturally yet flattering look of a modern girl."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Do not extend eyeshadow beyond line of observation, draw from the outer corner of the eyes to end of eyebrow covering entire eyelid.  Apply eyeshadow 1/8 inch away from the inner corner of eye duct along the top of eyelashes with an upward motion and blend sidewise useing [sic] a small brush if you prefer one which indeed is a good practice."

"The chick [sic] face technique of applying eyeshadow.  Apply eyeshadow with your little finger then sponge pat over the shadowed area to achieve that subtlety accent that is shadow gives eyes more depth, emphasis and color.  To elaborate therefore; with your little finger place a thin layer along the lashes as shown.  Now spread upward and outward just to the tip of the eyebrows graduating the shade from dark tone upward to a lighter tone; immediately the eyes become colorful, larger and radiant.  Experiment:  it is good experience and excellence in grooming." 

For daytime wear Bogardy recommended green, grey, violet, blue and brown depending on eye color ("used sparingly"), and advised adding a hint of metallic glam for nighttime:  a "silver tint" for green or blue eyes and gold for brown or hazel. 

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

"A delicate issue is at hand when applying brown eyeshadow for its application is intricate; to distribute a heavy layer of eyeshadow a hurried or unskilled method will most certainly age the face, therefore; in a skillfull [sic] manner apply a delicate tint of brown from the upper from the upper half of the eyelid to the eyebrows; then use a green or blue as indicated above on the chart and spread from the lashes and lower lid and blend with brown eyeshadow of the upper lid.  A systematic arrangement of placing eyeshadow, is to smooth liquid foundation on eyelid first, then the shadow then dust on a little powder.  This tones down the color and keeps eye lashes from smearing, assuring a firm and beautiful eyeshadow make-up."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

Next up are the lashes.  "There is nothing like knowing you look your loveliest to arouse in you a holiday spirit.  Make-up can do a lot to make such feeling possible; therefore, the simple steps in mascara application create an extra dramatic and vibrant plea of suplication [sic].  To apply mascara, moisten a brush for mascaras finest hour of loveliness with water, remove excess and rub over a cake of mascara until the bristless [sic] are covered.  Now brush the upper lashes from roots to tips, hold brush against lashes in an upward curve for a minute or so for setting it in position; for the final movement, use second clean and dry brush to even the color and to separate each hair."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The instructions for each face shape are provided in the lower left.

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

"The eyelashes will appear longer if you apply mascara as pictured.  Use an ordinary tea spoon and bend at the base of the elliptical form; now place the edge between the upper and lower lash closeing eye. Wet brush and apply mascara from above lashes, forming the curvature to the lashes, open eyes, and retouch tips of eyelashes."  Has anyone ever tried the spoon trick?  I've always used a regular eyelash curler.

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

The right side text consists of some very wordy instructions for simple mascara application:  "A great statement is held to an equally great esteem and great indeed are the uttered words of the blessed that a pretty face is the fortune of the girl possessing it, however skillful use and knowledge of make-up in the symmetrical arrangement will invariably achieve for you the desired resultant from careful application of color in the present asignment [sic] of mascara make-up.  Therefore in useing [sic] cream mascara press the color from the tube on a clean dry brush, now brush on the upper lash from close to the roots up and out to encourage lashes to curl in that manner with just a touch on the lower lashes.  A second film of mascara will give them added thickness.  Seperate [sic] the lashes allowing a more natural appearance.  Now remove excess mascara with a clean and dry brush."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"The summer night dreams bring forth another melodious day, the symphonic color of the fields, the animating glow of the leaves the scent of the flowers and fragrance of beauty have no other desire but to fulfill itself whether it is shown proudly out in the chords of variation of tender application of mascara, its warmth apparently will infuse a feeling of self-confidence and optimism.  Thunderstorms make us particularly restless and irritable.  The spirits rise in summer and the outlook of our beautiful women show forth the creation of beauty to intrigue femininety [sic].  As autumn changes leaves to the colors of make-up so mascara bewails the fact that a not too luxuriant eyelashes may be compensated by the ornamentation of applied mascara."  Okey dokey.

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

And now we're onto the face, starting with foundation.  "The mastery of any art requires tecnique [sic] therefore tecnique [sic] is reached through practice in the use of the hands and color selection by the eyes as directed by the thoughtful mind. The face may be made to look larger or smaller through the use of proper make-up.  The types of base which conforms and does justice to your face is here outlined.  The cream base which requires great care in its application and since lanolin is immersed in its base it is beneficial for dry skin.  Pan-cake having cream base is good for touching up the initial make-up and to cover large pores and blemishes; use a fine grained wet sponge which caters to oily skin and blends color uniformly.  Liquid foundation usually good for all skin types exclude where oiliness is extreme.  Before useing [sic] liquid foundations shake bottle well so that colors are fully mixed, then place a small portion on the forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and neck and blend, useing [sic] an upward stroke from deep neckline to the hairline.  Liquid make-up produces an even tone in flattery a radiant finish and beautiful coverage of lines and blemishes." 

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Bogardy's foundation application tips (I was getting really tired of typing it all out so I just did screenshots of these).

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

Next, Bogardy advises on the application of face powder. Top text:  "The Romantic, the Rhythmic, The Melodious delicacy is music in the making, which brings forth the gentle touch of femininity through the glorious touch of make-up as applied to the face and neck; therefore, to be in a holiday mood means looking your lovliest [sic], the following pages show exactly how through optical illusion, glory of placing together skillfully the combination of colors and the natural disposition of powder.  Now observe, correct powder is essential; in its determination consider the patron's age, coloring and whether it is for daytime or evening wear.  Powder weight depends on skin type, for dry skin use a light weight powder for normal skin use medium weight powder, for very oily skin use heavyweight powder. In its distribution to the face and neck be sure that the powder is visible throughout the face and neck area; this is called powdering movement, which is followed by the removal of the excess powder, which in turn is called the powdering off movement.  Therefore, the charm of music, the elegence [sic] of Romance, the Gayety [sic] of Glamour is yours indeed, by the mere investment of but a precious few moments in the glorification of Highlight, Shadow, Rouge and of course the Majestic Revelation of Powder."  That's certainly a spirited way of looking at face powder, yes?

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The text on the right side includes useful application tips for, ahem, mature women - don't want that powder getting caught in all your wrinkles!  "The choosing of powder may be obtained as follows:  stand in a strong light and by applying powder to one side of your face you notice that it melts or blends into your skin as if it were your own color, it brings forth a cleaner and an exquisite fine look it gives a lift in your skin life, it tones down irregular red spots, the purpose of the powder therefore is to have the make-up firmly fixed and sheen removed.  Powder is used in successive order as after highlights, shadow and rouge, use powder in abundance with a generous pad of cotton loosly [sic] sprinkled there on and pat in well leaving a finished look and blending well along the edges, with powder the same shade as the powder base do not rub the excess powder, but brush lightly and firmly with a soft brush made exclusively for this purpose.  It is important that you brush in the direction of the hair growth on the face brushing gently until all sign of powder seems to have disappeared, care must be taken when brushing over wrinkles, to make certain that it is gliding smoothly over the surface and the cavity of the wrinkled area in which case you gently pull apart fine lines and powder to avoid creases at the eye region.  Pull apart laugh lines gently at the mouth area and powder.  At the neck area you do likewise gently pull apart fine lines and powder.  Now with a cotton pad saturated with cold water gently press cotton pad to the area of the face and neck, this moistening movement will firmly establish your make-up.  The finishing touch is executed by wetting sponge and you immediately squeeze dry.  With this freshly squeezed sponge blot off excess moisture." 

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

"The approach to beauty is a necessity rather than luxury.  The woman's role in the home and business demand that she bring forth through the art of optical illusion her natural color as much as possible.  The professional beauty of yesterday was the envy of young and old is forever gone as every smart girl accepts make-up as a daily routine. She certainly accepts the chores as a girl from Heaven, for modern makeup is sheer magic, as the finished makeup is the dream of youth, the charm of glamour and the exciting touch of a new look, as grace can be gained by thinking; therefore nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it that way; immaculate and perfectly put together.  Now let us see, pleasure is a great beauty treatment in itself for fun places gleam in your eyes adds color to your cheeks, gives your face a lift in an appealing manner.  Worry the opposite to pleasure, places not only wrinkles in your face and neck but strains two thirds of the muscles of your face; therefore sagging envelopes the face and neck area." 

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

The next section is particularly interesting as it reveals the secrets of old-school contouring and highlighting through the use of lighter or darker foundation.  Top text:  "Like a musical score, make-up cannot be thought of in terms of words and no amount of words can convey beauty to the face unless by painstaking application of color hither and yon.  Since our aim is to bring out all the good points of the face and to balance the features as in the Circular Type face as may be observed in the diagram, through the principles of optical illusion or the perfection in the placement of colors to such a high degree of satisfaction as to promote a great delight even to the most critical influential fashion critic.  Therefore to bring out a feature and to make it seem more important use a light shade of foundation as it will create highlights.  To minimize a certain feature of the face or by transforming the face to a lesser degree of importance use a dark shade of foundation as the darker tone illusions.  Remember that if you are useing [sic] rouge over the foundation base, make sure that you blend out the tell tale edges thoroughly so that the formation of visible irregular lines disappear."  The bottom text reads, "In short:  the vision of an unreal image or in make-up, is is the most important essence, the essentials of optical illusion, which creates beauty; while unreal nevertheless, it is beautiful beyond the scope of imagination.  Now let us observe; a wide and natural looking mouth will also by appearance seem to reduce the width of the chin.  If you have hollow cheeks, place rouge above hollows and blend back towards to temples.  The fact that you have used two shades of make-up foundation should never be evident.  Blend the outer edge into the other until there is no sign of one shade blending into the other shade, only the beauty of the rainbow remains radiance of light and the intrigant [?} beauty of the shadow.  A heavy jawline will look more feminine when you blot out the corners with a dark shade of base."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Again, I was getting too tired to type up all the text, but I've linked to each one so you can zoom in to see the advice for each face type.

Diamond type face:

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Square:

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

Rectangular:

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Inverted triangle:

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

I saved the lips for last.  Again, Bogardy emphasizes the importance of lip color as another tool for balancing the rest of the facial features.  Top text: "There are many things in Heaven and Earth to be showerd [sic] upon us, but behold the tantamount and beautiful coverage of the lips by color to lament to a fervent capricious feeling of glory through the symetrical [sic] and balancing movement of lip make-up.  Therefore the very beautiful coloring or lip make-up will always show the way to a consoling way of our gracious desires which is indeed a divine interposition and an earthly admiration." 

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Using a tube of lip rouge press a tiny bit on a smooth and hard surffaced [sic] object and work into the brush.  Now star with your upper lip at the center and work out in both directions with an even and unbroken line.  The lower lip may be outlined, but keep within the natural line of the lips to form a beautifully arched lip line from one corner to the other.  If the shape of the mouth may not be defenite [sic] apply darker correction line with lip brush now dust a very thin film of powder over the lips then blot off excess with a wet cotton pad; the lips must be dry in order to fill in with a lighter color, now allow lip rouge to set a minute, then blot on tissue, you may dust a very light film of powder over the lips which allows the setting of lip color.  A very effective and long lasting of rouge may result by the re-application of rouge.  As you know the lip rouge comes in several different formulas select the type that will do the most good for your mouth.  You may like the indelible type formula lip rouge as it is very pretty and long lasting."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

Right side text:  "In lip make-up, expand the corners of the lips as in a smile so that the corners of the mouth are taut, which allows brush to penetrate fine lines for thorough coverage and far enough inside the mouth and into the corners to be complete and even with lip brush for accuracy in outlining.  Biting down carefully on a tissue blots much of the oils in the newly applied rouge and lasts and lasts without smearing."

Bottom text:  "A cheerful aspect of those beautiful lips an expression of surprise a confirmation of melodious sincerity and true sympathetic appeal which may be summed up as the absolute unbreakable rule of successfull [sic] make-up as a simple harmony which rhymes into a balanced medium of lip make-up.  As nature did not provide each and everyone with beautiful contoured lips or color which blend into warmth of beauty; therefore the final touch which completes the make-up is the application of a lip rouge and its various names as lip tint, lip coloring or lip shading; before applying lip tint be sure your lips are thoroughly cleansed, every trace of lip make-up must be removed and generous application of cold cream to your lips will clean to the best advantage and wipe with tissue."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

As with the others, brief tips at the end of the left-side paragraph are included for each facial type.  Here's an example for the rectangular type:  "In lip design of a rectangular type face where a rather long face hold forth in prominence, to balance therefore the lips will have an asignment [sic] to harmonize the most important area of the face and to augment the beautiful colors to bring equilibrium to a face of symphonic poem, that is interest to that effect may be had by elevating of the highest point on the lip for an interesting show in prominence.  The lower lip must be full to minimize the large area consisting of the chin and cleft, the lip rouge to form a tiny upward flare at the corners of the lower lip."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Bogardy's book had some skincare tips, which generally hold up fairly well in the 21st century.  The text was the same for all so I did not include all the drawings of the different face shapes.  "Beauty is a thing which gives pleasure to the senses; therefore, to achieve the objective, submit with great care to the following.  Once a day if time permits several times a deep cleansing ritul [sic] must be done for all skin types wheather [sic] creaming the face or leathering [sic] it with soap; small circles about the size of a dime are worked with gentle but firm fingertips completely over entire area of the face and neck in an upward and outward direction; but do not pull or drag the skin.  For the second time apply cold cream with a splash of lukewarm water on the face; lather up soap and again massage into the skin, now rinse with warm then finish with a cooler application of water which you pat dry.  Apply witch hazel or skin refreshener to complete cleansing operation."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

Left side text:  "If you have dry skin use liquid creamy cleanser by day, at night useing [sic] only castile or olive oil soap for cleansing then apply a light film of night cream; tissue off all but a very thin film as the skin must breath [sic].  A protective film of vanishing cream must be used under cosmetics.  If you have oily skin at intervals during the day cleanse with a very mild facial soap and water.  Follow with estringent [sic] cleansing.  Do not use night cream or cosmetics with a very oily base.  Beneficial indeed the use of suphur [sic] and resorcinal ? soap as well as sulphur and resorcinal ointment to dry up the oiliness.  Beauty is only an inner vitality forcing through the skin, it is well to follow the rules of health.  Eat a hearty well balanced breakfast, drink plenty of water before, between and after meals.  Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Lose self in absolute relaxation at intervals during day and plenty of sleep at night.  Do apply cream useing [sic] both hands.  Do massage motion in soaping creaming upward and outward.  Do make sure soiled cream is off face before creaming.  Do use soap and water daily and rinse well.  Do remember hit and miss treatment blotch the skin."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

"The four essentials for a beautiful skin.  Cleanliness in leaving face clean, free from dirt likewise hands must be clean before touching face.  Lubrication:  to make skin smooth by the use of a good lubricating cream and repair or beauty stick to cover fine lines and blemishes.  Stimulation:  washing off the mask results in a stimulated circulation which keeps skin flexible and invigorating, leaving face a glow and bring tinge of natural color to the cheeks.  Protection:  In the coverage used to shield the skin against variable changes in the weather use protecting film of vanishing cream at night will keep skin smooth and soft."

Bogardy concluded each section with drawings he titled "Precious moments on a theme of golden silence" showing each of the face types looking up and surrounded by rays of soft golden light. Given his religious bend, these women appear angelic (the light could be a halo) and the upward glance might be directed towards heaven.  The idea of transforming oneself from mere mortal to angelic being via makeup is still strong today - I could probably write a book about the intersection of heaven, angels and makeup.

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970

"Eyes close together will appear wider apart when you spread light foundation from the inner eyelid up the side of the nose.  Too round face will seem to appear oval when darker shade of foundation shadow the periphery outside the oval outline.  The sallow skin picks up a glow from a rose toned powder base or possibly a pink tinge for late evening hours."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

"When glasses are worn the eyes are very carefully made up so that there should be enough accent to draw attention to eyes rather than glasses.  If the eyes are widely spaced shadow to the tear duct to make them seem close together, blend the shadow so it is not noticeable of having the darker amount near the lashes."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

"A long nose will seem shorter when you darken the tip with a darker shade of foundation.  Having a double chin you must use regular foundation shade, then apply darker tone.  This will tend to minimize the chin area.  Application should be under the jawbone, blend from ear to ear along the jawline."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

"To cover scars is indeed a laborious process but you will reap a rich harvest in the end.  For indented scar or depression, apply a tight cream or white foundation with a no. 3 sable oil brush inside scar, blending into basic foundation by patting, if the scar be a strabeery [sic] form birth mark a heavy opaque foundation will block it out.  Use your regular foundation according to skin type in the surrounding area.  Experiment with different types and colors of foundation in the same family group:  by continued application the colors will become permanently formed about the scar."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)
(images from the Smithsonian)

Stylistically, I'm surprised at how modern these look.  If we ignore the ostensibly '60s era head wraps, the illustrations resemble toned-down versions of MAC face charts and others readily available today.  As for the instructions, despite the lack of diversity (the face types shown are presumably white women, with no mention of varying skin tones or eye shapes), the basic principle of balancing one's features remain somewhat relevant today. Overall though, even after sifting through the roughly 60 illustrations made available by the Smithsonian, I was still not entirely sure what Bogardy's motivation was in producing these.  "The Hair and its Social Importance" was a self-published booklet to be distributed among his circle and hopefully more widely to the public; it's not clear who these makeup drawings were intended for.  Then it dawned on me:  they were probably meant to be a makeup counterpart to the hair booklet, given that it was considered a "hair bible" and my earlier theory that the beginnings of each section comprised introductions for a sort of prayer book.  Parsons and Orgeron confirmed my hunch. "[Our] research during the summer and fall of 2001 turned up approximately one hundred extant paintings and colored-pencil drawings - sketches Bogardy had apparently rendered for a handbook on female beauty and the proper application of cosmetics.  This manual, if he had been able to publish it, would most likely have served as a companion volume 'The Hair and its Social Importance'".  So it was really a matter of him not getting to publish it for whatever reason.  In any case, Bogardy enjoyed making art for others and sharing his cosmetic expertise, but his admiration of women and their presentation of feminine beauty, his dedication to Catholicism and the appeal of daily rituals were really the impetus for the drawings.  "His sense of ritual permeated his personal life, and he was passionate about helping women look beautiful--both for themselves and for God," note Parsons and Orgeron, adding, "Clearly, this is the art of makeup application raised to the level of religious ceremony."

Alexander Bogardy, Untitled, c. 1960-1970 (detail)

Thus, the beauty book was simply a matter of combining the areas he was most passionate about during the '50s and '60s:  cosmetology, art, and devotion to God.  I believe Bogardy presents a unique take on conventional beauty wisdom of the time.  I'm not wild about the idea of women looking their best for anyone but themselves - I don't think we have a duty to look pretty for fellow humans, let alone God, nor do I think women require makeup to feel beautiful - but his enthusiasm for the transformative nature of makeup application elevates one's beauty tasks from the mundane to the divine.  As I noted earlier, I'm not the slightest bit religious or even spiritual, but I do feel like my makeup routine is a ritual of sorts, especially when I can take my time and fully enjoy the process.  Bogardy's drawings express and celebrate the near-heavenly state makeup application can bring.  In our current era of "self-care" and "wellness", they also serve as a reminder to carve a few moments in our busy schedules to do the things that make us feel valued and worthwhile.  Taking pleasure in performing a beauty ritual, whatever it may be, is just as good for the mind as it is for appearance.

That was a lot to take in!  What do you think of Bogardy's beauty illustrations?  Would you use any of these techniques?

 

*The Smithsonian gives Bogardy's birth year as 1901, but some other sources say 1902.  One of the articles referenced above lists his possible dates of birth as 1901, 1903, 1917 and 1924...although if the Peabody has records of him studying violin there during the '20s I doubt he could have been born in the 19 teens or '20s.  Another article by the same authors states, "While there is conflicting evidence concerning the precise year in which Alexander Bogardy was born, most of the data supports a birth date of April 20, 1901 in Budapest, Hungary."


Spotlight on vintage lipstick tissues

The life of a makeup museum curator is insanely glamorous.  For example, a lot of people go out on Friday nights, but not me - I have way more thrilling plans.  I usually browse for vintage makeup at Ebay and Etsy on my phone while in bed and am completely passed out by 8pm.  EXCITING.  It was during one of these Friday night escapades that I came across a fabulous box of vintage lipstick pads and naturally, that sent me down quite the rabbit hole.  Today I'm discussing a cosmetics accessory that has gone the way of the dodo:  lipstick tissues.  This is by no means a comprehensive history, but I've put together a few interesting findings.  I just wish I had access to more than my local library (which doesn't have much), a free trial subscription to newspapers.com and the general interwebz, as anyone could do that meager level of "research".  I would love to be able to dig deeper and have more specific information, but in lieu of that, I do hope you enjoy what I was able to throw together.

The earliest mention of lipstick tissues that I found was January 1932.  It makes sense, as several patents were filed for the same design that year. 

Lipstick tissue compact patent

Lipstick tissue patent
(images from google)

While they might have existed in the 1920s, I'm guessing lipstick tissues didn't become mainstream until the early 30s, as this December 1932 clipping refers to them as new, while another columnist in December 1932 says she just recently discovered them (and they are so mind-blowing they were clearly invented by a woman, since "no mere man could be so ingenious".)

December 1932 newspapers referring to lipstick tissues

In addition to the tear-off, matchbook-like packages, lipstick tissues also came rolled in a slim case.

October 1933 ad for Rolay lipstick tissues

This lovely Art Deco design by Richard Hudnut debuted in 1932 and was in production at least up until 1934.  I couldn't resist buying it.

Richard Hudnut lipstick tissues

February 1934 ad for Richard Hudnut lipstick tissues

By 1935, restaurants and hotels had gotten wind of lipstick tissues' practicality for their businesses, while beauty and etiquette columnists sang their praises.  Indeed, using linens or towels to remove one's lipstick was quickly becoming quite the social blunder by the late 30s.

Restaurants offering lipstick tissues, 1935 and 1939

May 1936 beauty column - lipstick tissues

Kleenex was invented in 1924, but it wasn't until 1937, when the company had the grand idea to insert tissues specifically for lipstick removal into a matchbook like package, that these little wonders really took off.  You might remember these from my post on the Smithsonian's collection of beauty and hygiene items.  The warrior/huntress design was used throughout 1937 and 1938.

Kleenex lipstick tissues, ca. 1937(image from americanhistory.si.edu)

Kleenex started upping the ante by 1938, selling special cases for their lipstick tissues and launching campaigns like these "true confessions", which appeared in Life magazine (and which I'm sure were neither true nor confessions.)  With these ads, Kleenex built upon the existing notion that using towels/linens to remove lipstick was the ultimate etiquette faux pas, and one that could only be avoided by using their lipstick tissues. 

Kleenex lipstick tissue ad, April 1938

These ads really gave the hard sell, making it seem as though one was clearly raised by wolves if they didn't use lipstick tissues.  Or any tissues, for that matter.  Heaven forbid - you'll be a social pariah!

Kleenex True Confessions, February 1938

Kleenex True Confessions, October 1939

Look, you can even use these tissues to cheat on your girlfriend!  (insert eyeroll here)

Kleenex True Confessions, September 1939
(images from books.google.com)  

Not only that, Kleenex saw the opportunity to collaborate with a range of companies as a way to advertise both the companies' own goods/services and the tissues themselves.  By the early '40s it was difficult to find a business that didn't offer these gratis with purchase, or at least, according to this 1945 article, "national manufacturers of goods women buy." And by 1946, it was predicted that women would be expecting free tissue packets to accompany most of their purchases.

Diamond Match Company lipstick tissues - Dec. 1945

Needless to say, most of them consisted of food (lots of baked goods, since apparently women were tethered to their ovens), and other domestic-related items and services, like hosiery, hangers and dry cleaning.

Lipstick tissues(images from ebay.com)

Curtiss Candy company lipstick tissues(images from ebay and etsy.com)

Lipstick tissues(images from ebay.com)

Lipstick tissues
(image from ebay.com)

Naturally I had to buy a few of these examples for the Museum's collection.  Generally speaking, they're pretty inexpensive and plentiful.  The only one I shelled out more than $5 for was the Hudnut package since that one was a little more rare and in such excellent condition.  Interestingly, these have a very different texture than what we know today as tissues.  Using contemporary Kleenex to blot lipstick only results in getting little fuzzy bits stuck to your lips, but these vintage tissues have more of a blotting paper feel, perhaps just a touch thicker and ever so slightly less papery.  It could be due to old age - paper's texture definitely changes over time - but I think these were designed differently than regular tissues you'd use for a cold.

Lipstick tissues

Anyway, Museum staff encouraged me to buy the cookie one.  ;)

Lipstick tissues

I took this picture so you could get a sense of the size.  It seems the official Kleenex ones were a little bigger than their predecessors.

Vintage lipstick tissues

Wouldn't it be cool to go to a restaurant and see one of these at the table?  It would definitely make the experience seem more luxurious.  I certainly wouldn't feel pressure to use them for fear of committing a social sin, I just think it would be fun.

Lipstick tissues
(image from etsy.com)

Lipstick tissues
(image from mshhistoc.org)

I figured having a restaurant/hotel tissue packet would be a worthy addition to the Museum's collection, since it's another good representation of the types of businesses that offered them.  I'd love to see a hotel offer these as free souvenirs.

Vintage lipstick tissues

Here's an example that doesn't fit neatly into the baked goods/cleaning/hotel categories.

Lipstick tissues(image from ebay.com)

This one is also interesting.  Encouraging women to be fiscally responsible is obviously more progressive than advertising dry cleaning and corn nut muffins, but it's important to remember that at the time these were being offered by Bank of America (ca. 1963), a woman could have checking and savings accounts yet still was unable to take out a loan or credit card in her own name.  One step forward, 5 steps back.

Lipstick tissues(image from ebay.com)

Of course, cosmetics companies also made their own lipstick tissues.

Tangee lipstick tissues(image from etsy.com)

I was very close to buying these given how cute the graphics are, but didn't want to spend $20.  (I think they're now reduced to $12.99, if you'd like to treat yourself.)

Dubarry lipstick tissues(image from ebay.com)

Plus, I already have these DuBarry tissues in the collection.

Dubarry lipstick tissues

Funny side note:  I actually found a newspaper ad for these very same tissues!  It was dated July 27, 1948, which means the approximate dates I included in my DuBarry post were accurate.

DuBarry lipstick tissues ad, 1948

By the late '40s, lipstick tissues had transcended handbags and became popular favors for various social occasions, appearing at country club dinner tables to weddings and everything in between.  I'm guessing this is due to the fact that custom colors and monogramming were now available to individual customers rather than being limited to businesses.

Lipstick tissue ads - 1946, 1950

Lipstick tissue gift suggestion, 1946

Lipstick tissue favors, 1950 and 1944

"Bride-elect"?  Seriously?

Lipstick tissue wedding favors, April 1951

While the matchbook-sized lipstick tissues are certainly quaint, if you wanted something even fancier to remove your lipstick, lipstick pads were the way to go.  These are much larger and thicker than Kleenex and came imprinted with lovely designs and sturdy outer box.  This was the item that made me investigate lipstick tissues.  I mean, look at those letters!  I was powerless against their charm.

House of Dickinson lipstick pads

I couldn't find anything on House of Dickinson, but boy did they make some luxe lipstick pads.

House of Dickinson lipstick pads

House of Dickinson lipstick pads

This design is so wonderful, I'd almost feel bad using these.  If I were alive back then I'd probably go digging through my purse to find the standard Kleenex ones.

House of Dickinson lipstick pads

I also couldn't really date these too well.  There's a nearly identical box by House of Dickinson on Ebay and the description for that dates them to the '60s, which makes sense given the illustration of the woman's face and the rounded lipstick bullet - both look early '60s to my eye.  

House of Dickinson lipstick pads
 
However, the use of "Milady" and the beveled shape of the lipstick bullet, both of which were more common in the '30s and '40s, make me think the ones I have are earlier.  

By the mid-late '60s, it seems lipstick tissues had gone out of favor.  The latest reference I found in newspapers dates to November 1963, and incidentally, in cartoon form.

Nov

I'm not sure what caused lipstick tissues to fall by the wayside.  It could be that there were more lightweight lipstick formulas on the market at that point, which may not have stained linens and towels as easily as their "indelible" predecessors - these lipsticks managed to easily transfer from the lips but still remained difficult to remove from cloth.  Along those lines, the downfall of lipstick tissues could also be attributed to the rise of sheer, shiny lip glosses that didn't leave much pigment behind. 

While these make the most sense, some deeper, more political and economic reasons may be considered as well.  Perhaps lipstick tissues came to be viewed as too stuffy and hoity-toity for most and started to lose their appeal.  My mother pointed out that lipstick tissues seemed to be a rich people's (or at least, an upper-middle class) thing - the type of woman who needed to carry these in her handbag on the reg was clearly attending a lot of fancy soirees, posh restaurants and country club dinners.  This priceless clipping from 1940 also hints at the idea of lipstick tissues as a sort of wealth indicator, what with the mention of antique table tops and maids.

March 20, 1940 - etiquette

Lipstick tissues were possibly directed mostly at older, well-to-do "ladies who lunch", and a younger generation couldn't afford to or simply wasn't interested in engaging in such formal social practices as removing one's lipstick on special tissues.  Plus, I'm guessing the companies that used lipstick tissues to advertise labored under the impression that most women were able to stay home and not work.  With a husband to provide financially, women could devote their full attention to the household so advertising bread recipes and dry cleaning made sense.  This train of thought leads me, naturally, to feminism: as with the waning popularity of ornate lipstick holders, perhaps the liberated woman perceived lipstick tissues as too fussy - a working woman needed to pare down her beauty routine and maybe didn't even wear lipstick at all.  Lipstick tissues are objectively superfluous no matter what brainwashing Kleenex was attempting to achieve through their marketing, so streamlining one's makeup regimen meant skipping items like lipstick tissues.  Similarly, after reading Betty Friedan's 1963 landmark feminist screed The Feminine Mystique, perhaps many women stopped buying lipstick tissues when they realized they had bigger fish to fry than worrying about ruining their linens.  Then again, one could be concerned about women's role in society AND be mindful of lipstick stains; the two aren't mutually exclusive.  And the beauty industry continued to flourish throughout feminism's second wave and is still thriving today, lipstick tissues or not, so I guess feminism was not a key reason behind the end of the tissues' reign.  I really don't have a good answer as to why lipstick tissues disappeared while equally needless beauty items stuck around or continue to be invented (looking at you, brush cleansers).  And I'm not sure how extra lipstick tissues really are, as many makeup artists still recommend blotting one's lipstick to remove any excess to help it last longer and prevent feathering or transferring to your teeth.

In any case, I kind of wish lipstick tissue booklets were still produced, especially if they came in pretty designs.  Sure, makeup remover wipes get the job done, but they're so...inelegant compared to what we've seen.  One hack is to use regular facial blotting sheets, since texture-wise they're better for blotting than tissues and some even have nice packaging, so they're sort of comparable to old-school lipstick tissues.  Still, there's something very appealing about using a highly specific, if unnecessary cosmetics accessory.  I'm not saying we should bring back advertising tie-ins to domestic chores or the social stigma attached to not "properly" removing one's lipstick on tissues, but I do like the idea of sheets made just for blotting lipstick, solely for the enjoyment of it.  I view it like I do scented setting sprays - while I don't think they do much for my makeup's longevity, there's something very pleasing about something, like, say, MAC Fruity Juicy spray, which is coconut scented and comes in a bottle decorated with a cheerful tropical fruit arrangement.  As I always say, it's the little things.  They might be frivolous and short-lived, but any makeup-related item that gives me even a little bit of joy is worth it.  I could see a company like Lipstick Queen or Bite Beauty partnering with an artist to create interesting lipstick tissue packets.  Indeed, this post has left me wondering why no companies are seizing on this opportunity for profit.

Should lipstick tissues be revived or should they stay in the past?  Why do you think they're not made anymore?  Would you use them?  I mean just for fun, of course - completely ignore the outdated notion that one is a boorish degenerate with no manners if they choose to wipe their lips on a towel, as those Kleenex ads would have you believe.  ;)

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Fake baking on a Friday: fun faux tanning ads

I was originally going to write a meatier post about the history of tanning that included sunless tanning, but there's actually been plenty of research already.  Rather than essentially re-writing what's already out there I decided to go the more visual route and show ads for products promising to give you that sun-kissed glow for both face and body.  I will include some history and links throughout, but mostly this is a way for me to share my never-ending obsession with vintage beauty ads.  :) 

Prior to the early 1920s, having tawny, sun-drenched skin simply wasn't desirable - at least for women.  Fair complexions were associated with the leisure class, while tan skin indicated a lower social status (i.e. people who had to work outdoors).  While the beauty industry was in its infancy, there were still plenty of products, such as this Tan No More powder, that promoted the pale skin ideal. 

Ad for Tan No More, 1924(image from library.duke.edu)

Just five short years later, however, the tan tide had turned.  Coco Chanel is credited by many historians as the one responsible for making the bronzed look stylish following a cruise she took in 1923, essentially reversing the significance of pale vs. tan complexions (i.e., tans were now associated with having the time and money for a luxury vacation in a sunny paradise, as well as good health.)  By 1929 products were on the market to achieve the glowing effect on the skin without the need to travel to some far-flung destination, such as this Marie Earle "Sunburn" line of makeup.  (Cosmetics and Skin has an excellent history of this company.  While not much is known about the founders, the Marie Earle line had some fairly innovative, if ineffective products, like breast-firming cream and eye masks.)

Marie Earle ad, 1929
(image from library.duke.edu)

Interestingly, in 1928 Marie Earle was bought by Coty, so it's probably not a coincidence that Coty released their Coty Tan bronzing powder and body makeup a year later.

CotyTan ad, 1929

CotyTan ad, 1929(images from cosmeticsandskin.com and library.duke.edu) 

The 1940s saw an increase in the number of bronzers and tanning body makeup, the latter influenced partially by the shortage of nylon stockings during World War II - women resorted to painting their legs with makeup or staining them with a tea-based concoction to create the illusion of stockings.  Always looking to sell more products, companies soon began offering tinted body makeup to mimic a natural tan.

Ad for Paul Duval Safari Tan, 1941(image from pinterest.com) 

Ad for Paul Duval Safari Tan, 1946(image from ebay.com)

Um...would you like a side of racism with your liquid body bronzer?

Elizabeth Arden ad, 1941(image from library.duke.edu)

Ad for Elizabeth Arden Velva Leg Film, 1946
(image from Found in Mom's Basement)

Elizabeth Arden ad, 1948(image from ebay.com)

By the late '40s cosmetics companies made sure women could also artificially tan their faces, as a slew of bronzing powders entered the market.  I couldn't resist purchasing a few of these ads.

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Lady Esther Malibu Tan face powder, 1947

Ad for Pond's Bronze Angel Face powder, 1948

Ad for Pond's Bronze Angel Face powder, 1951
(image from pinterest.com)
 

Ad for Woodbury Tropic Tan, 1949

Here's a detailed shot so you can see the ad copy...and gratuitous cleavage.  LOL.

Ad for Woodbury Tropic Tan, 1949

Ad for Woodbury Tropic Tan ad, 1951
(image from pinterest.com)

And more casual racism from Germaine Monteil. 

Ad for Germaine Monteil, 1947

Ad for Germaine Monteil, 1950(image from ebay.com)

Once again, I fell victim to the idea that a beauty product has only been around for a few decades.  But it looks like spray tans have been around since at least the mid-50s!

Guerlain Misty Tan ad
(image from fashion.telegraph.co.uk)

Spray tan ad, 1955(image from Found in Mom's Basement)

In the late 1950s Man Tan sunless tanning lotion - or what we call self-tanner more commonly these days - debuted, featuring a new way of getting tan without the sun.  Instead of traditional tinted makeup that merely covered the skin, Man Tan used an ingredient known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which works on the amino acids on the skin's surface to gradually darken its color.  It sounds like a harmful, scary process that relies on synthetic chemicals, but DHA is actually derived from sugar cane and is still used in most self-tanners today.* 

Man Tan ad, ca. late 1950s

Miss Man Tan ad, ca. late 1950s
(images from twitter and pinterest)

In 1960 Coppertone introduced QT, short for Quick Tan, and many others followed.  The poor models in these ads already look orange - I shudder to think of how carrot-like you'd be in person.

Ad for Coppertone QT, 1961(image from ebay.com)

Ad for Coppertone QT, 1966(image from pinterest.com)

You MUST watch these commercials, they're a hoot!

 

In addition to bronzers, around this time companies were also launching color campaigns specifically for tanned skin.  These shades aren't so different from the ones we see in today's summer makeup collections - warm, beige and bronze tones abound.  Both Max Factor's Breezy Peach and 3 Little Bares (get it?!) were seemingly created to complement a tawny complexion, while Clairol's powder duos and Corn Silk's Tan Fans line offered bronzer and blush together to artificially prolong and enhance a natural tan.

Ad for Max Factor Breezy Peach, 1962(image from pinterest.com) 

Ad for Max Factor 3 Little Bares, 1965
(image from pinterest.com) 

Clairol Soft-Blush Duo ad, 1967

Ad for Corn Silk Tan Fans, 1969(image from pinterest.com)

Meanwhile, Dorothy Gray had tan-flattering lip colors covered.  This was not new territory for them, as this 1936 ad referenced a new "smart lipstick to accent sun-tan".  In any case, the 1965 ad is also notable for the yellow lipstick all the way on right, which was meant to brighten another lip color when layered underneath...over 50 years before Estée Edit's Lip Flip and YSL's Undercoat.

Dorothy Gray ad, 1965(image from mid-centurylove.tumblr.com)

The tanning craze wasn't going anywhere soon, as various self-tanning and bronzer formulas for body and face continued to be produced from the '70s onward.  As skin cancer rates rose, there was also an uptick in the number of ads that emphasized protection from the sun over the convenience angle (i.e., the ability to get a tan in just a few hours and no matter the climate) - self-tanners started to be marketed more heavily as a healthy alternative to a real tan.

When it launched around 2004, I thought Stila's Sun Gel was such an innovative product.  Little did I know Almay had done it roughly 30 years prior.

Almay sun gel 1970(image from flickr.com) 

Bain de Soleil ad, 1983

Tried though I did, I was unable to find a vintage ad for Guerlain's legendary Terracotta bronzer, which debuted in 1984.  So I had to settle for these Revlon ads from the same year.

Revlon-pure-radiance-80s

Ad for Revlon Pure Radiance, 1984(images from pinterest and adsausage.com)

Bain de Soleil ad, 1990
(image from Found in Mom's Basement)

Chanel Soleil ad, 1990
(image from pinterest.com)

Estée Lauder self-tanner ad, 1991

Estée Lauder self-tanner ad, 1991(image from fuckyeahnostalgicbeauty)

I searched all the '90s magazines in the Museum's archives, but realized almost all of them were March, September or October issues, so I couldn't unearth any fake tan ads for most of the decade.  I did have better luck with finding ads online and in the Museum's archives for the 2000's, however.  It makes sense as I had started collecting by then, not to mention that the early-mid aughts were the Gisele Bundchen/Paris Hilton era so fake tanning was at its peak.  I just remembered that I neglected to check my old Sephora catalogs...I'll have to see if I can locate any photos of Scott Barnes' Body Bling, another hugely popular product in the 2000's.

Lancome Star Bronzer ad, 2003

Neutrogena ad, 2003(images from reed.edu)

Here are the ones from the Museum's collection.  Thanks to the husband for scanning them!

Armani Bronze Mania ad, 2005

MAC Sundressing postcard, 2006

Love this Armani ad, which coincidentally came out the same year Mystic Tan spray booths were launched.

Armani Bronze Mania ad, 2007

YSL summer beauty postcard, 2008

Benefit summer 2010 catalog

As the decade came to a close, there was some discussion as to whether tanned skin, real or fake, was passé.  But the continuing growth of the self-tanning market (as well as the influence of the bronzed Jersey Shore cast) showed that the infatuation with tanning wasn't slowing down.  The Paris Hilton era segued seamlessly into the Kardashian age, which also contributed to the popularity of the bronzed look.  Companies are still trying to keep up with the demand for bronzers and self-tanners.  For the past 5 years or so, Estée Lauder, Lancome, Clarins, Guerlain and Givenchy have released new bronzing compacts at the start of the summer, and just this past year Hourglass and Becca released a range of new bronzing powders.  Meanwhile, established products like Benefit's Hoola bronzer and St. Tropez's self-tanning line are being tweaked and expanded.

In terms of advertising bronzers and self-tanners, I think cosmetics companies do a damn good job.  The products themselves certainly look tempting, but one also can't deny the sex appeal of the glowy, bronzey look of the models (not to mention that a tan makes everyone look like they lost 10 lbs).  Who doesn't want to resemble a sunkissed goddess lounging about in a tropical paradise?  It's largely this reason, I think, that the tan aesthetic persists.  As usual, Autumn Whitefield-Madrano offers an insightful exploration of why tawny skin continues to be in vogue so rather than me rambling further I highly encourage you to read it in full.  As for me, well, I've largely given up on self-tanning.  It was messy, came out uneven no matter how much I exfoliated and how carefully I applied it, and still didn't look quite like the real deal.  I do, however, still use bronzer once in a while (mostly as blush, but occasionally in the summer I'll dust it all over my face) and have been tinkering with temporary wash-off body bronzers.  I don't consider bronzer a staple by any means - most days I fully embrace my pasty self - but the fact that I own 6 of them is proof of the long-standing allure of the tan and how effectively the products required to achieve it are marketed.

What do you think?  Which of these ads are your favorite?  And are you down with the tanned look or no? 

 

*Recent research has shown DHA to be safe for topical use; however, inhaling it, say, from a spray tan booth, is less safe.

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MM Spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Welcome to the Makeup Museum's spring 2017 exhibition!  As you may know, for the past few months I've been hopelessly under the spell of anything holographic/iridescent/prismatic, and I think this morphed into an obsession with all the colors of the rainbow.  (Or it could be Desus and Mero's nightly rainbow feature seeping into my subconscious.) Duochrome makeup is obviously different than rainbow makeup - I see the former as having color-shifting principles, while the latter is vibrant yet static - but I'd argue that they're all on the same...spectrum. (Sorry, couldn't resist).  What I mean is that merely colorful makeup is different than holographic, but they share similar qualities.  Generally speaking, I was inspired by the broader notion of color play and the endless possibilities a variety of colors can provide.  I've always loved vividly colorful makeup because as we'll see, over the years it's become synonymous with fun and self-expression, which is basically my makeup credo.  From 6-hued rainbow highlighters and a set of primary colors to create unique shades to more subtle gradient palettes and sheer lipsticks, makeup that encompasses the whole spectrum allows for a great amount of experimentation.  Even color correctors offer the opportunity to play.  I wanted this exhibition to express the joy and creativity that a wide range of colors can bring, especially when viewed as a collective whole such as a rainbow.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

While I could have probably could have done an entire rainbow-themed exhibition, there were some new, non-rainbowy releases that were simply too good not to include, plus I thought they added a nice balance to all the color.   Also, did you notice the labels?  I got the idea to make them a gradient rather than all one shade, but my husband, super smarty pants that he is, chose the exact colors and how to arrange them.  I think this is the first exhibition where I had to determine where everything was going prior to printing the labels.  Usually I just print them out and figure out placement of the objects later since I can always move the labels around, but this time I had decide on placement first since moving things would mess up the gradation effect.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Let's take a closer peek, shall we?

Top shelves, left to right.

I spotted this 1970 Yardley set on ebay and knew it would be perfect.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix

The box isn't in the best shape but aren't the graphics so cool?!

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I love that the insert encourages you to have fun and experiment.  It's a stark contrast to actual ad for the product, which, underneath its seemingly feminist veneer, is horrifically ageist.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I tried cleaning up the tubes but I scrubbed too hard on the yellow one, which resulted in a few cracks.  I forget these things are over 40 years old and that plastic doesn't necessarily remain durable for that amount of time.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

The similarity between the eye makeup for Dior's spring 2017 collection campaign and an ad from 1973 is striking.

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition labels

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Dior vintage ad and 2017 palette

1973 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad

Dior spring 2017 makeup

My heart skipped a beat when I saw that Addiction would be featuring the work of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint on their compacts this spring.  Af Klint's work really spoke to me and I'm so happy Addiction helped spread the word about her.

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

These lipsticks are so delectable!

Kailijumei flower lipsticks

I know it's just a fake flower with highlighter dusted on top, but it still makes me swoon.

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Still haven't figured out a name for this little lady.

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

Makeup Museum exhibition label

If you remember that popular video that was making the rounds a little while ago, it showed a Charles of the Ritz powder bar.

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

1963 Charles of the Ritz ad

If I ever display this again I'll update the label.  Turns out Charles of the Ritz tried to bring back the service in August of 1988, but I don't think it stuck around long.  Perhaps they couldn't compete with the likes of Prescriptives, who was by that point leading the way in custom blending?  (Sidenote:  I'm tickled at how the article is written by Linda Wells, who was just 2 years shy of launching what would become the world's best-known beauty magazine, and how it also cites Bobbi Brown and refers to her as simply a "makeup artist."  Little did they know that Bobbi's own line would be taking the makeup world by storm in another 3 years.)

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Third row, left to right.

I'm not sure why Guerlain used a rainbow for this spring's campaign and not for their summer 2015 Rainbow Pearls, but they look good together.

Guerlain Meteorites

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Paul & Joe:

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Shiseido 7 Color Powders Centennial set (well, part of it):

Shiseido rainbow powders

Shiseido rainbow powders

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Burberry Silk and Bloom palette:

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

Rainbow highlighters...I just received word that the original was re-stocked so I will have to purchase it.  :)

Rainbow highlighters

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Loubichrome nail polishes:

Loubichrome nail polish trio

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Interestingly, when I working on the label I came across a Vogue interview with Julie Verhoeven that was published after I had posted about these makeup sets.  She clarified that Jacobs had specifically requested to revisit the imagery on the 2002 Louis Vuitton collection, so it wasn't a random decision to go with that style.  As for the frog motif, which I am completely smitten with, it was most likely a nod to Jacobs' fondness for the animal (another recent interview with Verhoeven tipped me off.)

Marc Jacobs spring 2017 makeup set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Ah!  I was so excited when this set popped up on ebay I could hardly contain myself.  This is probably the best representation of late '60s/early '70s beauty.  It doesn't have the insert but overall it's in great condition.  I don't know whether this particular set is specifically the pastel version mentioned in the ad (which is a printout of an original from 1973 - forgot to put that on the label, oops) or the regular non-pastel crayons, but I was overjoyed to finally get one into the Museum's collection.

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

In doing a little background research for this exhibition I came across some interesting things.  I couldn't possibly pull together a comprehensive history of colorful/rainbow-inspired makeup, but here's a quick look back on some of the highlights.  While color correcting powders existed early on in the modern beauty industry, it seems as though the more colorful side of makeup wasn't popularized until the early '60s.  Ads for collections featuring a robust range of vibrant shades included words like "fun", "play" and "experiment", thereby associating color variety with happiness and creativity.

1960 Cutex ad(image from flickr.com)

This was the earliest ad I could find that mentions a "rainbow" of shades.

1961 Max Factor ad(image from hair-and-makeup-artist.com)

This 1967 ad not only depicts a spectrum of color, it encourages the wearer to create different looks by adding varying amounts of water to the pigments.  I'm assuming you could adjust the opacity this way.

1967 Max Factor ad
(image from pinterest.com)

While I love the Yardley Mixis set and the classic Mary Quant crayons, I think this brand is my favorite representation of late '60s beauty, at least in terms of advertising (you can see more here).  It's so crazy and psychedelic...looking at this makes me want to dance around in a field with flowers in my hair, LOL.  Sadly I was unable to track down any original makeup or ads from this line, which I believe was exclusive to Woolworth's in the UK.

1968 Baby Doll Cosmetics ad
(image from sweetjanespopboutique.com)

The demand for color didn't end with the '60s, as evidenced by these early '70s Yardley and Dior ads.

Yardley rainbow eyes ad, ca. 1970

1972 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad
(images from ebay.com)

Once again, a variety of colors is linked to self-expression and fun.

1975 Maybelline ad(image from flickr.com)

Dior kept the color game strong in the '80s.  (There was a 1981 Elizabeth Arden collection entitled Rainbows, but it didn't really offer much of a shade range).

1986 Dior ad(image from sighswhispers.blogspot.com) 

More recently, rainbow-inspired beauty has had its moments.  The models at Peter Som's spring 2013 runway show sported pastel rainbow eye shadow, while later that year, Sephora's holiday collection brush set featured iridescent rainbow handles.  For summer 2015 MAC released a collection with basically the same finish on the packaging, and come November, Smashbox's collaboration with artist Yago Hortal offered an eye-popping array of shades.  I'd argue that 2016 was the tipping point for the rainbow beauty craze, with fashion designers leading the way.  These runway looks helped set the stage for the likes of ColourPop's rainbow collection and Urban Decay's Full Spectrum palette, both released last year, along with MAC's Liptensity collection, which brought a whole new dimension to color perception.  While it wasn't a rainbow-themed collection per se, Liptensity's "tetrachromatic" formulation ushered in a new way of thinking about and playing with makeup pigments in much the same way rainbow makeup did.

Makeup at Alexis Mabille and Manish Arora, spring 2016
(images from makeupforlife.net and fashionising.com)

Fendi spring 2016(image from harpersbazaar.com)

Betsey Johnson spring 2016(images from wwd.com and seventeen.com)

It doesn't look like rainbow makeup is going anywhere soon, as evidenced by the stunning looks Pat McGrath created for Maison Margiela's fall 2017 show, along with products like MAC's Colour Rocker lipsticks and Kat Von D's Pastel Goth palette.  Even Sephora's typography got a rainbow makeover.  (While the gradient rainbow style was used more to convey holographic makeup/highlighters, it represents exactly what I meant earlier - rainbow makeup and holographic makeup may be distant cousins, but they definitely belong to the same family).

Maison Margiela fall 2017(images from instagram.com)

Sephora rainbow(image from sephora.com)

Then there are these magazine features from the March 2017 issues.  (Yes, I still tear out magazine pages.  Yes, I'm aware there's Pinterest and that we live in a digital world.)

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Marie Claire magazine, March 2017

That was long!  Phew, I'm tired.  Actually I'm not, since looking at a bunch of different colors together energizes me.  As a matter of fact, I tend to get a little overstimulated, which is why I do most of my makeup shopping online - in-store browsing at all those colors displayed on the counters is very bad for my wallet. 

Update, 4/3/2020: I realized I never addressed rainbow makeup as it pertains to the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition to rainbow makeup's role as a way for people to explore more colorful cosmetic options, it also functions as an important extension of the rainbow symbolism created by and for the community over 40 years ago. One questionable trend, however, has been the rise of companies slapping rainbow packaging on some of their regular line items in order to "celebrate" (co-opt?) Pride month.  By and large, it’s a positive development as the products raise visibility for LGBTQIA+ rights and most of them donate the sale proceeds from these items to various charities. They also call attention to makeup’s significance for the LGBTQIA+ movement, both past and present. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like a shameless cash grab with the main focus being the product instead of meaningful action or change. If you’re on the market for new makeup and want to feel good knowing that your purchase helps a marginalized population, go for it – no one should be embarrassed to buy them. I personally cannot get enough of rainbow packaging and purchased several items just for the colorful designs on the boxes. But the motivations of some of these companies are questionable, i.e. are they really committed to the cause or just once a year when they put rainbows on their packaging and call it a day? One thing is for certain though: although the Museum is committed to LGBTQIA+ rights year round, I look forward to the rainbow looks Pride month brings (and obviously I think people should feel free to wear rainbow makeup year round as well.) Pride looks exemplify the raison d’etre of rainbow makeup by demonstrating the joy playing with color can bring and the freedom to wear it.

NYC Pride parade makeup, 2018

NYC Pride parade makeup, 2018

NYC Pride parade makeup, 2018
(images from allure.com)

I hope you enjoyed the exhibition and that you'll play with color this season, either by wearing shades so bright they hurt your eyes or simply giving color correctors a go (and everything in between).  Just have fun!