Oral and Visual History Initiative MMM60s MODEL HISTORY and VINTAGE FASHION
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 Suzy Parker - Revlon - Fire and Ice

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Join date : 2008-11-04
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PostSuzy Parker - Revlon - Fire and Ice

On March 1, 1932, brothers Charles and Joseph Revson, along with chemist Charles Lachman, established a nail polish company they named Revlon (the “l” in Revlon came from Lachman).

In his book Fire and Ice: The Story of Charles Revson – the Man Who Built the Revlon Empire (William Morrow and Company, 1976), Andrew Tobias chronicled the career of the man “who started with one bottle of nail polish and a fine ear for female fantasy and built an empire – The Revlon Company – worth millions from them”:

A special album has been created for this book in the 60s Ad Campaigns Album: Revlon Album (1940s-1950s):
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To read this out-of-print book online, go to Andrew Tobias’ web site:
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Suzy Parker was a very popular Revlon model in the 1950s and 1960s:

However, friction developed between Suzy and Charles Revson over her fee, and their relationship became strained. Suzy Parker recalled:

"'As time went on it became really very funny. They did this particular Cleopatra ad and shot it with ten or twelve different black-haired girls, at great expense. It wasn't the photographer's fault; it was just that they couldn't choose the model. So they had to keep paying Avedon for the pictures. It was a disaster. Finally, at the last minute, they brought me in and put a black wig on me and they never let Revson know it was me in the ad. He never realized.' (He doubtless realized full well. Out of pride he may have pretended he didn't.)”

Photographer: Richard Avedon

“Earlier she had done a similar last-minute bailout retake on Stormy Pink. 'We worked at night [double the fee] off Montauk Point, in the ocean, and I had to hold a stallion. We really did that. It was very dangerous because it was windy and the pebbles kept rolling out from underneath the horse's feet, and I'm trying to hold him down. We worked on that for almost six hours in the middle of the night, in the middle of the ocean [well, not quite], and I was in a chiffon dress. I think the reason I was such a good model wasn't that I was such a particular beauty or anything, but that I was as strong as a horse. And that occasion proved it!'"

Photographer: Richard Avedon
This double-page ad is unusual because it's vertical instead of horizontal.

“The Revson/Parker relationship was such that when Time sent a photographer around in 1960, Charles had to pay her to appear — as if it were a modeling session and not a simple publicity shot. While the photographer was setting up in Revson's office, Parker was dressing in the ladies' room and putting on her false fingernails. ‘I wore false ones in all the ads because I've never had long fingernails,’ she says. ‘I had gotten them all glued on, rather unsatisfactorily, and I was trussing my white mink, and I make my entrance and everyone says, “Wow, wow,” and all that — and I lose one of the damn fingernails.’”

“‘I'm crawling under the desk and the Time man says, “What are you doing?” "I'm looking for my blinking, bloody fingernail," I said — and Charles turned absolutely beet-red. “You mean you wear false fingernails?” the photographer asked. He thought it was a riot. I thought Charles was going to explode with rage, because I said, “Of course I do, I always have — in all those ads.” At which point Charles turns to me and says, “All right, let's change the subject.” He thought I had done it deliberately . . . and I don't know that I didn't.’”

“Charles, lipstick patches on his palm, looks admiringly at Suzy Parker (whom he had to pay to appear for this publicity shot).”
Photographer: Leonard McCombe

There seems to be a discrepancy about the date of this photo. I found these photos from the same shoot on the LIFE Magazine web site with the date of September 1, 1956:

Susan Camp
Senior Editor & Archivist

Linda Morand BLOG
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