GEORGINA GRAHAM

EXAMINING ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL

I recently read Max Factor: The Man Who Changed The Faces of The World by Fred E Basten. This fascinating biography of a man who worked as a beautician & wigmaker to the Imperial Romanov Russian family, escaped the pogroms, fled to St Louis to the World Fair with his family & moved to Los Angeles & set up shop in 1908 catering to theatre & then the movies. He worked with Joan Crawford, Bette Davis Rita Hayworth & Katharine Hepburn amongst every star at the time. Mr Factor created bee stung lips for Clara Bow, made Jean Harlow platinum. He actually invented false lashes, lip gloss, foundation and eyebrow pencil. He invented ”The Beauty Calibrator” a rather weird but quite fabulous gizmo from 1932 for measuring the face which enabled Hollywood make-up artists to pinpoint where facial corrections needed to be made. This machine revealed that the “Perfect Face” was a myth. It looks more like a sci fi torture device. Another invention was “The Kissing Machine,” 1939,  which presses two sets of rubber lips together, under ten pounds of pressure, in order to test the indelibility of lipstick. Max Factor at the height of his fame built a grand deco studio in 1935 which later became The  Max Factor Beauty Museum in LA  which is now the Hollywood History Museum & the original Max Factor studio contained four special celebrity make-up rooms, each designed to bring out the best in women of a particular hair color: one room is labeled “For Blondes Only" ( decorated in flattering shades of blue); other rooms are solely for redheads (done in mint green),brunettes (dusty rose pink), or brownettes (pale peach). These special rooms have been faultlessly preserved, & are complete with the original make-up chairs, settees, lights, flattering, multi-angled mirrors. This was the start of personalising colour theory & before long from suburban housewives to spotty teens could be advised on which colours/products suited their colouring. It is without a doubt that Max Factor was the modern father of makeup, his story & legacy is moving, humbling & incredible. 

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