Beauty bites: Revlon
A look at the legendary skincare brandBy Liz Bruckner
This year marks Revlon’s 80th anniversary. Begun during the Depression by Charles Revson, brother Joseph and chemist Charles Lachman in New Rochelle, N.Y., the product that launched their success was a long-lasting nail enamel. By 1940, Revlon was a million-dollar brand. Legendary ad campaigns in the ’50s like those for Fire &
Ice lipstick and nail enamel (“A lush and passionate scarlet…like flaming diamonds dancing on the moon”) continued to enhance Revlon’s reputation as a company of firsts.
In the ’70s, its ad for Charlie fragrance, with model-turned-actress Shelley Hack striding to work in a pantsuit, was emblematic of that decade’s wave of women in the workforce. In 1989, it was one of the first major beauty brands to replace animal tests with alternative safety testing methods. U.S. billionaire Ronald Perelman bought Revlon in 1985. “In the 1990s, our technology kick-started a very competitive era for long-lasting makeup,” says Lisa Gerardi, communications manager for Revlon Canada. In 2008, to compete in what Gerardi describes as a “fast-paced and very tied to fashion” industry, Revlon, whose other brands include Almay and Mitchum, nabbed star makeup artist Gucci Westman as its global artistic director. “We’ll continue to push technologies,” says Gerardi. An example?
The new PhotoReady collection of foundations is designed to “bend and reflect light to erase flaws,” and primers contain colour correcting pigment to even skin tone (ads feature Hollywood “It” girl Emma Stone). Beyond the glamour, since 2005 Revlon Canada has donated some $1.2 million to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and its team raised almost $300,000 for CIBC’s Run for the Cure.