“A crimson mouth was an essential component of Marilyn Monroe’s bombshell identity; her pursed, full lips and the soft, sulky voice that emerged from between them oozed sex appeal and a magnetic, ultra-womanly allure. Along with her platinum blond hair, red lipstick was the cosmetic equivalent of the slinky, low-cut dresses and high heels that were her sartorial trademark.
But it was more than that: red lipstick served to enhance many of the characters she played. In roles like Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondesand Cherie in Bus Stop, red lipstick was the ideal accessory to underscore her characters’ femininity and seductiveness.
The application of red onto Monroe’s lips on film sets was methodical and strategic: her makeup artist, Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, used several shades of the color at a time, with a darker iteration near the edges of the lips and lighter versions toward the center to create an intensely accentuated pout. But the actress’s seductive persona wasn’t limited to just her movie roles: even o duty, a staple of her look was a liberal application of her favorite shade, Max Factor’s Ruby Red. Although that brand is no longer available in America, it’s still popular in Europe, where four wearable versions of red were introduced in 2016 as the Marilyn Monroe Lipstick Collection. One of the options is her beloved Ruby Red.”
Marilyn Monroe: The Unknown, a new exhibition featuring the collection of Ted Stampfer, opens at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate (Museum Der Pfalz-Speyer) in Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities and part of the Rhineland-Palatinate region this Sunday, December 16, for a six-month stay. There is an accompanying programme of events and you can also purchase special edition lipstick and wines.
Marilyn has been chosen as the face of the 1950s in a Marie-Claire article about changing beauty trends over the decades.
“Elegant hair updos are making a comeback on the fashion week catwalks, but their history is firmly rooted in 1950s fashion. Few beauty muses are more iconic than Marilyn Monroe, whose hourglass figure was the most desired female shape of the decade. She’s probably also a big reason why the best red lipstick is such a timeless classic beauty look.”
Artist Alexis Fraser was inspired by Marilyn to use lipsticks in her paintings, as Mary Anderson reports for Revelist.
“‘I was challenged by a client to create a larger than life portrait of Marilyn Monroe but in a non-traditional medium,’ Fraser told Revelist via email. ‘The catch however, was that the medium/technique needed to correlate with Marilyn!’
South African model Candice Swanepoel – best known for her Victoria’s Secret ads – will impersonate Marilyn for a new Max Factor promotional campaign, reports Vogue. ‘It is the ultimate look that defines glamour – nothing else compares,’ says Pat McGrath, Max Factor’s global creative director. ‘Ruby Tuesday, inspired by one of Marilyn’s favourite Max Factor lipsticks, is still my go-to red today for an instant shot of glamour, and continues to be one of the most popular shades for both make-up artists and real women.’
You can read more about Max Factor and Marilyn here.
Marilyn will be the ‘new face’ of Max Factor cosmetics in 2015, reports Vogue Australia. ‘As an original client of Max Factor’s in the 40s,’ the article states, ‘the beauty company lays claim to transforming Monroe from a brunette Norma Jeane to the platinum beauty icon we all remember.’
Actually, Max Factor played no part in Marilyn’s blonde transformation. That honour goes to Sylvia Barnhart of Frank and Joseph Hair Stylists. And her glamorous look evolved over the years, with the help of make-up artist Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder.
However, three Max Factor lipsticks were sold as part of Marilyn’s personal beauty box, fetching $266,500 at Christie’s in 1999. And the bulk of her collection was acquired not from Max Factor, but Erno Laszlo and Elizabeth Arden. The box has since been displayed at Ripley’s in Hollywood.
‘Marilyn made the sultry red lip, creamy skin and dramatically lined eyes the most famous beauty look of the 1940s and it’s a look that continues to dominate the beauty and fashion industry,’ says Pat McGrath, Global Creative Design Director of Max Factor.
This is true enough, although Marilyn didn’t achieve her stardom until the early 1950s. It may be more accurate to say that Marilyn inspired companies like Max Factor, rather than being transformed by them. She may well have consulted them personally on occasion, but if so, this has not yet been clarified.
Although she never endorsed Max Factor in her lifetime, Marilyn was posthumously featured in another of their ad campaigns, during the 1990s. The Max Factor Building in Hollywood includes a ‘Blondes Room’, displaying makeup, vintage articles and some of Marilyn’s clothing.