The Makeup Museum will open in New York next May, revealing the beauty secrets of Marilyn and other movie legends and displaying their vintage cosmetics and skincare products, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Tickets will go on sale in March 2020 for the inaugural exhibition, Pink Jungle: Makeup in 1950s America, sponsored by Erno Laszlo, and which will run for six months.
“‘The 1950s is a perfect time period for the Makeup Museum to start with in the debut exhibition, because the 1950s is the birth of the modern cosmetics industry,’ says executive director and co-founder Doreen Bloch. ‘We’re going to be displaying one-of-a-kind items, something consumers have never seen before in public.’ These include personal items (creams, powders and skin pastes) from Monroe and Garbo’s vanities. ‘Marilyn, to me, is still, today — not to overuse this word — such an icon. Gen Z, Boomer, everyone in between knows her. She’s such a special reference point,’ says Bloch.
The museum is using knowledge of Monroe to create a ‘shelfie,’ a showcase of all the products that would have lined her beauty shelf that she might have shared online, if Instagram been around in her day (and if she would have embraced it). ‘What would Marilyn look like, what kinds of brands would she be using?’ wonders Bloch. ‘We have beauty receipts from Marilyn, and that gives a strong historical perspective on the brands she used,’ such as the Max Factor Creme Puff foundation that will be shown.
She adds that even though it’s the Makeup Museum, they are also looking at tangential categories, like skincare, haircare and fragrances. So another item on display is Active Phelityl Intensive Cream, said to have been Monroe’s favorite moisturizer. According to Bloch, a jar of Erno Laszlo cream was found next to Monroe’s death bed, as seen in images from the Los Angeles Police Department taken at the time. ‘Dr. Erno Laszlo created Phormula 3-8 balm specifically for Marilyn to heal an appendectomy scar on her stomach,’ adds Bloch.
‘The ’50s was a time of immense change,’ Bloch says. ‘You have the advent of the color TV, which is game-changing for the makeup industry, where all of a sudden you can actually see the color of Lucille Ball’s lips in I Love Lucy, and how that impacted the sale of cosmetics. You see also how many rules there were at the time for how you were meant to use makeup …’
‘The icons of the day, like Marilyn, Dorothy Dandridge, Greta Garbo, Anna May Wong, were critical in the dissemination of makeup as an acceptable tool,’ she adds. ‘Before the ‘50s, there was a lot of stigma related to wearing a red lip, but that became acceptable because of women onscreen.’ The museum will showcase iconic looks from the era, particularly the cat eye. ‘Different women applied that look in their own way. For example, Marilyn often did a double wing on her lid in terms of the winged eyeliner.'”
“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.”
Over at Refinery 29, Valis Vicenty investigates how Marilyn’s beauty tips hold up today – saying ‘yes’ to bedroom eyes and contoured lips, but ‘no’ to Vaseline. The article rather overestimates the influence of Max Factor – Marilyn perfected many of her unique flourishes by herself, or with Fox makeup man Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder – but is otherwise an interesting look at how new technologies have streamlined our routines.
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.
“If still alive today Monroe, Hepburn and Kelly would all have been in their 80s. Dietrich would have been 113. But the images seared into public consciousness – and proliferated by advertisers – are of these women at their aesthetic peak. The same, youthful photographs are continuously recycled on social media (sometimes emblazoned with a wrongly-attributed inspirational quotation), in print and online, effectively reducing Marilyn et al to the status of cartoon characters.
Dead women are ideal brand ambassadors: compliant, submissive and easily manipulated, both figuratively and digitally. Thus it is unsurprising that Max Factor’s slogan for their new campaign (‘From Norma Jean to Marilyn Monroe – created by Max Factor’) not only takes full credit for Monroe’s make-over but eliminates any agency Marilyn might have had in her own transformation. Luckily, she isn’t alive to argue otherwise.”
Sarah Churchwell, author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, has written an excellent article for The Guardian about Max Factor’s upcoming ad campaign featuring Marilyn, and their rather spurious claim to have ‘created’ and ‘transformed’ her.
“If Max Factor wants to emphasise history it should start by paying a little more attention to it. Monroe had her first – tiny – film role in 1947; she did not have her first starring role until 1952. Throughout the 1940s, she was still ‘mousey’ Norma Jeane. For my book on Monroe, I read every major biography then published, as well as many ancillary accounts – about 300 books in all. Not one reported that Max Factor suggested the aspiring starlet should bleach her hair. I don’t think any of them mentioned Max Factor at all. Instead, nearly all credit a woman named Emmeline Snively, the head of Monroe’s first modelling agency, with whom she signed in 1945.
Marilyn Monroe was not created by Max Factor – or by her studio head, Darryl F Zanuck (who hated her); or by her agent, Johnny Hyde, who paid for her to have minor plastic surgery (to the tip of her nose and her jawline) and got her first big roles; or by any of her directors, or husbands, or any other of a legion of men, and a handful of women, who have tried to claim the credit, now including Max Factor’s heirs. She was not created by makeup, in any sense: cosmetics were not sufficient to create Marilyn Monroe, and neither were other people. Emmeline Snively herself said that what distinguished the girl she knew was how hard she worked: ‘She wanted to learn, wanted to be somebody, more than anybody I ever saw before in my life.’
Everyone from Elton John to Joyce Carol Oates (who should know better) has trotted out this tenacious, tiresome story: ‘ordinary’ Norma Jeane was changed by someone else into the glamorous movie star Marilyn Monroe. But Norma Jeane Baker, as she was known in childhood (Mortenson was the name on her birth certificate, but she never knew her father), was always an extremely beautiful girl.
No doubt Marilyn attended the Max Factor beauty salon near Hollywood Boulevard in the 1940s, along with hundreds of other young starlets. I have no reason to disbelieve that she may have worked with Max Factor Jr himself in the 1950s, once she was famous. But no one except Marilyn Monroe created Marilyn Monroe, and in 2015 it’s past time for us to give credit to the woman who earned it.”
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.