The 3 Careers of A Lipstick Inventor



Nowadays, lipstick is the bestseller among all decorative cosmetics. Apparently, it took quite a while to become that popular. We will see that its history started very long ago; about 3500 BC, to be precise.

Archaeologists discovered that already the Sumerians put some sort of colour on their lips. Just for the records: the substances found are about 5500 years old.

As it seems, in ancient Egypt women and men – especially the warriors – painted their lips, too.

In Europe lipstick had good and bad times. While it seemed almost inexistent during the European Middle Age Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) emphasized her lips by a reddish colour and by putting white powder on her face. Something like 200 years later Queen Victoria (1819-1901) decided that lipstick was not really suitable. Of course this was as well the “zeitgeist”.

As we have seen in the articles about Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein using decorative cosmetics was not considered decent until the 1920ies.

Lipstick. Finally!

Hazel Gladys Bishop was born in New York in 1906. She was a chemist and as from 1942 she worked in oil companies where she made some important discoveries concerning the fuel quality for planes.

Besides her day job she experimented on non-drying, non-irritating and long-wearing lipstick. “Kiss-proof”, she called it.

In 1950 she founded Hazel Bishop Inc. to market her invention. The brand was instantly accepted. The product was introduced and Lord & Taylor in summer 1950 for 1 US Dollar per tube. And guess what? The stock was sold out on the very first day.

Lipstick was a growing market and Hazel’s company soon captured 25% market share. The lipstick war had started because so far the company Revlon dominated this market.

In 1954 the company sold 10 Million US Dollar per year and Ms Bishop fought a war with her majority stockholder over financial issues. She left the company that year in order to set up another enterprise by the name of Hazel Bishop Laboratories that developed household and personal care products. But due to legal problems with her former partner she was not allowed to use her own – meanwhile very renowned – name.

Hazel Bishop’s Second Career

Hazel was not the type to give up easily.

In 1962, she became a stockbroker for Bache & Company and later a financial analyst for Evans & Company. Given in the 1960 and 70 the fragrance business was booming she was the person to talk to and her advices was ardently sought. Financial newspapers quoted her and she lectured within the US.

A Fashion Career

Apparently, Hazel Bishop was an ardent teacher.
Her third career was in fashion education. In 1978, she became an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. She lectured in a programme that was designed to prepare young people for careers in cosmetics.

In 1980, she was appointed to the Revlon Chair in Cosmetics and Marketing. The company Revlon had been her greatest competitor back in the 40ies.

Until some weeks ago I did not know about Hazel Bishop. But it seems as if “Leadership & Lipstick” is a good strategy and a suitable name for a blog ;-).

“Maybe lipstick not only makes us more beautiful but also more successful”. Brigitte Kobi


Medusa: From Curse to Fame


According to Greek mythology Medusa was not always Ms Ugliness as who she went down in history.

The Roman poet Ovid put it that she originally was a ravishingly beautiful maiden, “the jealous aspiration of many suitors,” Unfortunately she enraged the Goddess Athena who replaced her beautiful hair with snakes and transformed her face so horribly that a single look of Medusa’s eyes should petrified the watcher.

I am not sure if medusa was a victim or a sinner. Depending on the narrator she was either raped by Poseidon or just made love to him. Much to my surprise the result is the same in both stories. Medusa is a synonym for ugliness and subject of many stories.

Medusa in Style

When Athena cursed her she probably did not foresee that Medusa would some thousand years later make a fashion career.

In 1978 a young designer by the name of Gianni Versace set up shop in Milan, Italy. His fashion stands for intense colours, provocative cuts and short skirts. In one word: extravagant.

His sources for inspiration were modern artists like Andy Warhol or Roy Liechtenstein. But apart from the 20iest century he looked back to the Greek antiquity. Legend has it that Gianni already liked these classical patterns when he was in Greece during his childhood.

Zeus and Medusa made it on the fabrics he used for his fashion. And Medusa – nobody can deny that she is extravagant to say the least – became the logo for many fashion lines and should later decorate high quality porcelain designed by the house of Versace.

The House of Versace

After Gianni’s death in 1997 his sister Donatella and his older brother Santo took over the management of the company. Quite successfully.

The house of Versace still creates fashion, jewellery, watches and more. I am as happy for the Versace family as I am for the antique beautiful maiden.

IT-Girls on Holidays


We already spoke about the first IT-girl and the uncomplimentary definition the German dictionary offers about this “profession”.

Today we will speak of the modern version who is not only famous but the heiress of some equally well-known and very renowned hotels.

The lady’s name is Paris and the hotel’s name is Hilton. Of course you came up with this already.

Hilton’s History

The company by the name Hilton was founded in 1919 and the first Hotel opened its doors in Cisco / Texas in the same year. In 1925 Conrad Nicholas Hilton founded the first hotel by his own name in Dallas, Texas. His target was to run the best hotel in Texas. His concept turned out to be very successful since he “planted” quite some more hotels with in the United States.

Hilton’s international expansion started with the Hilton Hotel in 1949 and in 1955 the conquered Turkey and built another hotel in Istanbul. And in 1958 the set up shop in Berlin/Germany.

The Waldorf-Astoria

The Hilton Group owns as well the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotels. Originally these were two separate Hotels built in the end of the 20iest century. The founders were cousins and so were the hotels since they were connected by a lane that people called “Peacock Alley”. Given the Peacock is a symbol for beauty and nobles it seems very suitable to me.

I know nothing really about Paris Hilton since the tabloids are not a very trustworthy source. The fact that she is rich can hardly be held against her; luck is not a crime.

Her family heirlooms are 10 different hotel brands. Hilton Worldwide owns more than 4000 hotels in around 90 countries.

Hilton’s Latest’s Offers

I am an affiliate partner of the Hilton Hotels. This means you can book any hotel right here.

Have a safe journey.

Women In Art


A friend (a real one) sent me the link to this clip since someone shared it on Facebook.

“If Botticelli were alive today he’d be working for Vogue.” Peter Ustinov

I found it on YouTube under the profile of Philip Scott Johanson.

Meanwhile I watched it several times and I see well known paintings starting with Leonardo da Vinci’s “Leda”, unavoidably followed by the “Mona Lisa”, eventually transfiguring into Botticelli’s “Venus”. They are followed by a lot of other romantic and renaissance beauties.

Eventually we arrive in the 20th century where we can admire Alfons’ Mucha’s “Four Seasons” and some expressionistic ladies.

It feels like a quiz. Most of the ladies look familiar, even though I might not be able to place them in the correct painting.

I’d be most interest in knowing what you found in it.

Paris or What Is An IT-Girl


Paris Hilton is known to be an IT-girl.

I checked the German dictionary that included this notion in 2009. Well, the definition is not exactly flattering.

“Young or younger woman who is known to the public due to her frequent appearances with celebrities and her media presence.”

In other words no special skills are required.

Paris Hilton, however, was not the inventor of this but no doubt she is a good copyist of the concept.

Clara Gordon Bow

The first IT-girl was the American starlet Clara Gordon Bow (1905 – 1965). Clara was destined to become THE flapper. If you want to look up the definition of a flapper this article might be of help.

As it seems the modern definition of IT-girl does not live up to Clara’s life and skills. She grew up in bitter poverty and should later tell that nobody wanted her because she was the most terrible looking kid in the neighbourhood: no food, tatty clothes and a mother who apparently was mentally disturbed.

But it spite of it all Clara’s beauty must have been visible somehow. She won a photo beauty contest which should lead to a movie career. When in 1922 Clara wanted to enter into the film industry her mother tried to slit her throat.


The movie “It” which was in the screen in 1927 should be her break-through and the reason for her nickname. Clara played the role of the shop girl Betty Lou who has a crush on the shop owner Cyrus Waltham who does not even know she exists at all. In order to attract Cyrus’ attention Betty accepts an invitation for a dinner in the Ritz which will take place on the same evening on that Cyrus has a dinner date in the Ritz, too. The plan works out and within a short time Cyrus and Clara are discussing marriage. The romance cools when the newspapers publish the story about Betty being an unwed mother.

After Effects

Apparently, Clara played this role very convincing (I guess given her childhood she could use a lot of her experience) as it is reported that the movie had a strong influence on the society’s ideas of moral; especially since it appeared only a few years after World War 1 which changed the world a lot already.

As far as I understand it is not a problem for an IT-girl to be pretty but there is a whole lot more to “It”.

Have a Hollywood-like week.

Impressions on “It”

Surrealistic Fashion


Although Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the most prominent fashion icons between the World wars she is not a household name today. But she brought quite some inspiration into the fashion arena.

Born the daughter of a wealthy family in Rome 1890 she developed an avid interest in art and design. Believing that her family’s wealth would harm her art she moved to New York where she made friends with artists like Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp.

In 1922, when Man and Gaby Ray decided to go to Paris she joined them.

Apparently this was when she started combing her love for art and style and became a couturier. As far as I can see she was a self-educator.

For example she once wanted to go to a fashion show as a visitor. In order to look good she knitted a black pullover with white wristbands and a white bow at the neck. This pullover caught the attention of the writer Anita Loos (she wrote the original script of “Gentlemen prefer Blondes” in 1928 which was reused several times).

Collaboration with Artists

Given the moral support of Paul Poiret she opened her first atelier in 1926 that got good reviews and closed in spite of it. Already in 1927 she launched a collection of knitwear. The pullovers were featured with surrealistic images.

As a lover of modern art she worked together with Salvador Dali. From this partnership some really original results emerged. One example is the lobster dress that was decorated with a lobster painted by Dali.

With Jean Cocteau she designed an evening coat that shows an optical illusion. You know these images with the two faces looking at each other and when you look for the second time the only thing you see is a vase. The shoulders and parts of the back are decorated with embroidery of pink roses.

Fashion Shocks

In 1931 Elsa invented the split skirt which was a shock first. But it turned out to be very handy for playing tennis or riding a bike. The black pullover we already spoke about made furore. A copy of it was displayed in the window of a shop and procurement manager from a department store saw it. After years of hard work Elsa’s fame finally came over night.

Happy Ever After

Wars tend to change everything; even taste. After World War 2 fashion became less decorated, simpler and the cuts were rather strict. Elsa did not adapt to this and therefore closed her atelier in 1954.

Still, she was now rich on her own and lived happily ever after. She became 83 years old.

Watch it.

Image Credits

The picture of Elsa Schapiarelli's a split skirt belongs to Getty Images and it has been copied out of "Fashion. Mode von 1900 bis heute." by Harriet Worsley.

Happy Scents

This is not just a blog post but a big fat thank you to the perfumers of this world in general and to the two salesladies who consulted me with patience and know-how of the perfume shop Osswald at famous Paradeplatz in the heart of Zurich.

Style and Tradition

Osswald has got style and tradition. It opened its doors in 1921 and was the first perfume shop that sold scents from Guerlain; and other big names of course. Nowadays, you will find most perfumes almost everywhere. The ones you cannot find in every corner you’ll find there. You know, I have a habit to use the same fragrance for years and only have one at the time. So changing it is not something I do very frequently. My favourite perfume so far is end of sales and I need a different one.

Perfect Service

When I went to town I knew three things: I want a new – special – scent, I need help and I would not buy anything immediately since I need to “go through a day” with a new scent to find out if it suits me. When I entered the shop a saleslady offered me her help which I happily accepted. She asked me about my preferences and set out for a perfume quest. Already before we started I informed her that for today I just needed consulting and would buy what I liked on another day.

No only she knew about the characters and ingredients about the perfumes she sprayed of the ones I decided to take “a nose full” on a fine cosmetic tissue so the scent could unfold. When my nose became tired she offered me coffee beans from a nice gold coloured jar because there odour has a neutralizing effect on our olfactory sense. After a while it was time for her lunch break because the sales people work in shifts. Of course I wanted her to have her break and she introduced me to her colleague after she had carefully explained to her where we stood with our perfume research and what I liked so far. The second lady was equally knowledgeable and helpful. After another half an hour I could reduce the vast choice of perfumes I liked to the preferred three.

The Scents that Made Me Happy

I received a sample of a scent of the house of Carthusia a perfumery that resides on the island of Capri and two sprays (one on each wrist) of perfumes of the British perfumer Roja Dove since this brand does not allow free samples. After a few hours I found the one I preferred from the two. Now Carthusia is left to spend one day with me in order to see if Italy or Great Britain will prevail.

But one thing is sure. The precious scents and the perfect service made my day and I do not mind to pay a bit more since quality has its price and its value.

Madeleine Vionnet


Madeleine Vionnet was born in France in 1822. Although she was a good student her father decided that she had to learn a sewer’s business when she was 18 years old. Her education was unexpectedly short since she got married. The marriage did not last and Madeleine embarked to England to manage the tailoring department of a tailor who created dresses for the aristocracy.

Five years later she returned to Paris and worked for another atelier where she learnt a lot about fashion design. When in 1907 she joined the atelier of Jacques Doucet he offered her to realize her own fashion line. This is really something since great Paul Poiret already worked and learnt there.

Fashion & Inspiration

We already know that Coco Chanel and Paul Poiret liked to see themselves as “women’s liberator from the corset”. As it seems Madeleine Vionnet designed corset-free models already between 1907 and 1912. Since she took her inspiration from the underwear the vendors in the shop boycotted these dresses.

Madeleine’s beauty ideal was inspired by Greek antiquity. Apparently, her source of inspiration was the dancer Isadora Duncan who targeted to bring the dancing style of ancient Greece back to life. Even Isadora’s death was dramatic: while driving her convertible the scarf she wore got entangled in the car’s wheel and strangled her.

In order to create the same drape as Nike’s tunic Madeleine Vionnet invented the so called bias cut. With this technique the fabric is not cut along the warp and weft but diagonally. The results of this became a big hit and made Madeleine one of the main influencers in the 1930. Moreover, she did not design her models on paper but on small puppets.


In 1912 she opened her first salon in Paris but had to close down during World War 1. When the war was over Madeleine set up shop again in the famous Rue de Rivoli. In the 1930ies about 1200 employees were on her payroll.

Other than Coco Chanel Madeleine never forgot about her humble origins and as it seems she was very modern concerning the working conditions. She had a dentist and a hospital ward for her employees and paid vacation.

Due to World War 2 she had to close down her atelier for good and despite her wealth lived in a simple country house.


The name of Vionnet was almost forgotten. Until in 2002 a business man from Kuwait bought the company. Since 2006 to the present day the brand belongs to Matteo Marzotto und Gianni Castiglioni.

Fashion Show Spring/Summer 2014

I seriousely doubt that Madeleine Vionnet would have become so successful and important with the fashion presented for 2014.

La Grande Dame


There is another beauty queen who worked her way from rags to riches. In 1908 when Josephine Esther Mentzer who should be famous by the name of Estée Lauder is born, Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden are already on their way to fame.

The Origin

Esther’s parents were Hungarians and called their daughter Esty, which should later become Estée. Shortly before World War I breaks out her Uncle Johann joins the family. He is a dermatologist and young Estée is fascinated by the creams he is mixing. Her uncle sets up a lab and teaches his niece the secrets of mixing ingredients to facial creams. During all her school years the lab was her favourite place. In 1930 Estée marries Joseph Lauder and they move to Manhattan. The first years were hard since Joseph’s business did not flourish and for a short time they had a cafeteria. Estée still experimented “cosmetically” in her kitchen and as well had dreams to become an actress. But soon she realizes that she did not have the talent for Hollywood.

The Beginning of Success

Somehow Estée finds time and money to visit Mrs Morris “House of Ash Blonds” once a month to get her hair done. She convinces the other customers to come to her house to get a facial treatment with Estée’s products. One day Mrs Morris asks Estée about the secret of her perfect skin. After she receives a facial treatment she is so convinced that she asks Estée if she wants a licence for her products in one of Mrs Morris’ salons. Yes, of course! Finally, Estée will earn money with her own products. When a customer buys a product she receives samples of the other ones. The strategy should pay out. Soon she receives other lucrative offers to sell her products. Since she cannot be in different places at the same time she hires vendors. Of course they need training in “Mrs Lauder’s special selling method”. She is moving fast and her activities exclude her husband. In 1939 the Lauders are divorced. Given they have a son they remain in contact, miss each other and in 1942 marry for a second time.

1946: Going Big

Mrs Lauder’s next target is Saks. But the department store is not interested. The products they have sell well hence there is no need for an additional one. Estée is not the type of giving up easily. Plus she can cure the skin issues of the manager’s daughter. This, the rising demand for her products and her persistence finally get her a purchase of 800 US Dollars. Hallelujah, what a milestone! Of course now the manufacture must be bigger. Probably even bigger than Mrs Lauder thought: two weeks after the opening in Saks the products are sold out. Given Estée Lauder did not have a large marketing budget, she has to become resourceful. Every customer who buys a product receives a sample of facial powder as a small gift. Another campaign she invents is a post card to be sent to all potential customers with the promise of a gift if they return the card in the store. The success is huge and in 1947 she founds her own company.

A New Year – A New Face

The department store Neiman Marcus granted Mrs Lauder some space but warned her that it was the beginning of the year and people spent all the money for Christmas. She asked him for 15 minutes on a local radio show which was granted, too. As it seems people literally invaded the store and the “New Year Face” became a tradition.

Still Travelling

Meanwhile the brand “Estée Lauder” is quite established but Mrs Lauder is still travelling. She wants her products to be accessible for as many people as possible and therefore preferres the concept of having a representation in the big department stores from opening her own beauty salons like Rubinstein and Arden did

Reaching the Top Class

Always wondering why she sees so many perfume bottles which were never opened Estée decides to create scent that women would use in a daily basis without even thinking about. In 1953 “Youth Dew” is born. It is a long lasting success and again Mrs Lauder is resourceful. Instead of just creating a perfume she invents a bath oil with this scent. Bathing is very American and the everyday girl will use this oil that’s scent is very long-lasting. I tried this perfume long ago and due to its strong amber note that I felt that I had grown from 18 to 70 years within a heartbeat. But it seems that I am quite alone with this judgement.


Mrs Lauder had a long and successful life. She died at the age of 98, had two sons and empire to bequeath them. As far as I see Charles Revson (later Revlon) is the one she feared the most since she was afraid that he copied her recipes. Certainly she was not the closest friend of Helena Rubinstein or Elizabeth Arden but as it seems she did not maintain such a “close rivalry” as the two other ladies did. But they were already there, when she came into play. I truly believe that competition triggers our resourcefulness and makes us create new things, plans and ideas. I think as well that not everything which looks like theft is copied but that two people can invent the same thing independently simply because they watch everything which is going on in their field and come to the same conclusion. It happened before.

Beauty Rivals


We are now at the beginning of the 20st century when women just began to emancipate themselves from corsets and hair buns. The new fashion was less conventional but required some more care about ones waist line. This fact is certainly a boost for the newly created beauty business. Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden who should become fierce rivals do not know about each other yet. While Helena offers full body massages Elizabeth developed sportive programs. Let’s take it from there.

In the previous part of Helena Rubinstein’s story we ended in 1908. I should add that in 1907 she married Edward Titus, a writer and editor. They live in London. Helena is a very small person of only 145 cm (4.75 ft.) but she is always perfectly dressed. Her favourite designer is Paul Poiret with his colourful fabrics. Hence her clients were full of awe about her elegance.

Helena wants to set up shop in Paris where a lot of clients need consulting about their skin treatments. In 1909 she opened another beauty salon in Paris which was run by one of Helena’s sisters (I start understanding the value of a big family 🙂 ) because she gave birth to her first son and wanted to stay in London with him and her husband. Until the birth of her second son in 1912 she spent more time with her family but then her restlessness reappeared and in 1914 the entire family moved to Paris where Helena renewed her beauty salon.

Meanwhile another sister of hers arrived in London who is perfectly capable of taking care of the London business.

1914 – 1915

1914 was an important year in many ways. Winds of change are blowing all over. The darkest of all events is of course the beginning of the First World War. Helena’s husband is an American citizen with Polish roots. Given Helena is Polish and Jewish he convinces her to move to America. She is not delighted leaving her work but agrees with the plan and the family arrives in the States in 1915. Given Helena’s sisters do not have a chance to leave Europe they stick with the management of the beauty salons.

Elizabeth Arden on the other hand embarks to Paris in 1914. As it seems she had no time to notice that Europe is in big trouble and on the eve of a war. Only when she arrives in Paris it dawns on her that there is only little time. She used it well and visited many different beauty salons and buys a lot of cosmetics in order to test and analyse it. Most probably she visited as well Helena Rubinstein’s renowned beauty salon. She would have loved to stay a bit longer but war does not allow dawdling. She barely got a passage on the “Lusitania” back to America. On this trip she meets her future husband Thomas Jenkins Lewis. They marry in 1915. As it seems romance is not one of Elizabeth’s core features as she just takes one hour off to attend the marriage ceremony and goes back to work.

She always dreamt of a cream that looks and feels like whipped cream. So far she was not successful. This changes in 1915 when she found a laboratory who accepts her order to analyse the cosmetic products she bought in Paris. She tells one of the owners A. Fabian Swanson about the cream she wanted and he promised to do his best. The creation is exactly what Elizabeth wanted since it is a perfect foundation for facial powder and Swanson immediately receives a second order to create a cleaning lotion. Both products are a huge success and between 1915 and 1920 Elizabeth Arden is the largest cosmetics factory of the world. Not bad at all; only five years after her start in this business.

Alarm in the 5th Avenue

When Madame Rubinstein arrives in New York she of course gets to know Elizabeth Arden’s company. No doubt she NEEDS to have a house of beauty on the 5th Avenue. Together with her husband she organizes a PR campaign and announces a big opening.


Miss Arden who (latest since her visit in Paris) is aware of Rubinstein’s reputation and her salons in Europe and Australia, has of course no intention to give up her territory. In 1915 it is an advantage to bring – like Helena – some European flair and Elizabeth is clever enough to recognize this. She therefore decides to expand and moved from house number 509 to 673 in the “Salon d’Oro” as she called her new location.

In 1916 only a few weeks before Helena’s big opening the “Salon d’Oro” opens its doors. The media response is good but Helena’s opening is more spectacular and she travelled big parts of the United States to make her brand known.

The rivalry between the two women should remain their problem and their fuel for the rest of their lives. Years later Arden should “steal” one of Rubinstein’s top managers who brought about a dozen of experienced employees with him. Helena gets her revenge when she hires Elizabeth’s ex-husband who used to work in the realm of Arden. On the one hand this eternal fight is a waste of energy but on the other side it is a driver for the two entrepreneurs to develop more products and ideas which the clients are still thankful for. The next chapter exemplifies the similarities of the two ladies, that were like tigresses in the same cage.


Decorative Make-up was not suitable for “decent” women in the beginning of the 20iest century. It was ok for actresses on the stage and considered “cheap-looking” for all others.

Helena Rubinstein started to think about make-up very early since she recognized that the good parts of ones face can be emphasized and make one overlook the rest. As usual she was creative in her lab and testing on herself.

Elizabeth Arden was doing the same thing and experimented on powder and rouge but as well was aware that their time had not come yet. But from her time as an assistant at the dentist’s she knows that a lot of flaws could be corrected with such products. When she arrived in Paris in 1914 she discovered that in this city many women wore eye makeup which was frowned upon in America. But I guess she knew than that she was on her (right) way.

In the 1920ies Helena created the “vamp look” for the actress Theda Bara.

Both of these women built an empire form literally nothing. They were focused on their targets and were constantly learning and developing new products. And they both had a very long and busy life. Elizabeth died only about 18 month after Helena. Although both ladies emphazised to never have met in person, they apparently could not live without each other.