Monday, 1 September 2014

Revson (Revlon)

Charles "Charlie" Revson c.1940

If such a thing were possible, Charles Revson would be the love-child of Thomas J. Barret (the unsung patron saint of Madison Avenue) and Fran├žois Coty.

Anyone who was alive and young in the 1950’s will never forget the excitement as those fabulous nail colours and lipsticks hit the High Street stores.

Boxed in individual cartons, each with individual artwork and names like we had never had before: Fire and Ice, Cherries in the Snow, Fifth Avenue Red, and Love That Pink.

Advertisements took up whole pages in magazine, and each carton carried a miniature reproduction of the ad for its contents.

So what? Before Revson, lipsticks had names like Cherry, Rose, or Medium Red, and took up a couple of inches of a magazine page in black and white at most, that’s so what.

Charlie Revson wasn’t all that satisfied with one page in full colour either, and often took up two.

“The Nail Man” Helena Rubenstein called him.

How did he get to be The Nail Man? Because he had a girlfriend who happened to manicure Diana Vreeland’s nails, and because he started as he meant to go on, by lifting other people’s ideas...

We had Charlie apples, Charlie solid perfume pendants, Charlie soaps, bags, face-cloths, towels, beach bags, shoulder-bags, vanity cases, sweat-shirts, umbrellas (yes, he was the first with umbrellas), you name it, we had it, and all marked Charlie.

[here there is a note reading simply: “continue”. She evidently never got around to it.]

Sally Blake
Date unknown