Skip to main content
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

The Business of Beauty Haul of Fame: Why Marilyn Monroe Still Converts Shoppers

The big bucks of being a bombshell…
Marilyn Monroe
A tube of Marilyn Monroe's 1960 Elizabeth Arden lip colour will hit the bidding block on Mar. 30. (Getty Images)

Welcome back to Haul of Fame, the weekly beauty roundup of new products, new ideas and new hopes for a “Shrek” TV show!

Included in today’s issue: Aaron Judge, Crown Affair, Dieux, Diane von Furstenberg, Glossier, Kinship, Mane, Pattern Beauty, Philosophy, Phlur, Plantmade and Travis Barker.

But first…

Would you pay $7,000 for a lipstick? What if it belonged to Marilyn Monroe?

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s the question facing bidders at Julien’s Auctions, where a tube of the American bombshell’s 1960 Elizabeth Arden lip colour will hit the bidding block on Mar. 30. You can also procure Marilyn’s perfume receipts at the auction (Rose Geranium from Floris London) but the screen queen’s bottle of Chanel No. 5 has already been sold … for $10,000.

“There’s no end in sight for the demand for Marilyn memorabilia, especially her perfume and cosmetics,” said Laura Woolley, Julien’s managing director and head of consignments and appraisals. “People love to throw around the word ‘iconic’ now, but one of the only women who truly fits that bill is Marilyn. She was the original influencer.”

As an auctioneer (and veteran of “Antiques Roadshow”), Woolley is on the frontlines of a growing industry for used makeup and expired fragrance that’s been owned by celebrities. Besides Monroe’s offerings, she’s witnessed recent auctions for Mia Farrow’s perfume, Amy Winehouse’s eyeliner, Britney Spears’ lip gloss and Sharon Tate’s face powder.

Why do people want this stuff? Woolley shared two reasons: One, because it feels like an intimate connection to the celebrity, on par with collecting relics from saints. (Elle Fanning admitted as much during a 2011 interview, where she shared with Tavi Gevinson that she’d bought some of Monroe’s face powder with her early movie star earnings.) In Woolley’s words, “What’s more intimate than touching something to your face that Marilyn Monroe touched to hers?”

The other aim of beauty memorabilia collectors: Replication, sometimes with an eye toward current product development. “Marilyn’s makeup routine and colour palette have been obsessively chronicled,” said Woolley. “Women still want to look like her, just as much as they want to look like current stars on TikTok.”

Woolley points to celebrity makeup artist Erin Parsons as an example of a fervent Marilyn makeup collector who often posts tutorials matching existing products on the market to the archival formulas used by Monroe and her longtime makeup artist, Allan “Whitey” Snyder. In recent years, Besame and KISS have also launched lines based on Monroe’s archive of makeup.

Woolley wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor Swift’s red lipstick becomes the next holy grail for celebrity makeup hoarders, but it might be even harder to track down than Monroe’s original cosmetics kits. “If you asked Marilyn Monroe what lipstick she was wearing, she would tell you, even if it wasn’t part of some contract,” said Woolley. “She’d be like, ‘Oh, thank you, it’s Bachelor’s Carnation from Revlon. You can buy it at the store.’ Today’s celebrities aren’t going to do that. They won’t name any brands in public that aren’t paying them.”

Marilyn Monroe's lipstick.
Marilyn Monroe's lipstick. (Courtesy)

What Else Is New?

Skincare

Diane von Furstenberg has included skincare in her big Target collab, launching Mar. 23. It includes Vitamasques sheet masks and Sally Hansen nail kits featuring her iconic prints. (RIP Andy Warhol, you would have loved your lip print on an actual face treatment.)

ADVERTISEMENT

Kinship debuted its Dreamwave Overnight Serum at Credo on Mar. 20. Its buzzy ingredient is chlorella vulgaris — micro pond scum, essentially — and it claims to work faster than retinol. Will test and report back by April 7, when it makes a wider debut in Ulta Beauty.

On Mar. 20, Dieux introduced a new skin cream — kind of. It’s called Barrier Blanket but you can’t buy it. Instead, it’s a gift-with-purchase for shoppers, and comes with an invitation to submit feedback directly to Dieux’s co-founder, Joyce de Lemos, giving consumers some say in their brand experience.

Lush is not draining the swamp. Instead, it’s dropping a Shrek “swamp care” collection on Mar. 22 including a “shower slime,” bath bomb, shower gel and new packaging on its Mask of Magnaminty, which some fans call a “Shrek pack” because it hardens into a scaly green finish during use.

Philosophy unveiled two new products — Dose of Wisdom eye cream and Ultimate Miracle Worker body serum — on Mar. 18. It seems to hit the Gen X sweet spot between “getting older is so cool” and “I don’t want to look like I’m getting older.”

Mar. 19 brought Glossier’s new duo, Body Hero Perfecting Lotion and Daily Oil Wash. The wash in particular is a stealth winner for those who shave their legs in the shower but don’t love using a gunky drain-clogging cream (or have the time to moisturise afterwards).

Herbivore Botanicals has a new Star Seed SPF 30, which also acts as a makeup primer and uses “ultra sheer” zinc oxide to block harmful rays. It launched Mar. 19.

Travis Barker debuted his Hemp-Free Skincare line for Barker Wellness on Mar. 14. It includes a 2-in-1 face mask and cleanser, plus a daily moisturiser. Barker wouldn’t do a phone interview with us for the launch, which is too bad because “Tell me all about your skincare routine” is what everyone wants to hear the rock icon discuss. No. Not really. Very solid packaging for the skin stuff, though, and the formula seems great.

Hair Care

On Mar. 19, Tracee Ellis Ross debuted Pattern Beauty’s Interchangeable curling iron, which has clip-on barrels to change the curl circumference and accommodate existing curl patterns. It retails for $249 on the Pattern Beauty website, with an Ulta Beauty in-store rollout coming in April. Meanwhile at Sephora, Mane brought out its new Hot Round Brush on Mar. 18. Jen Atkin’s latest launch comes with a breakdown of how it can be used for each hair texture, from super-straight locks to Type 4 coils. Appreciated, Jen!

ADVERTISEMENT

Plantmade introduced its new Rain Charcoal shampoo bar on Mar. 19. I love “solid” shampoos because they use so much less plastic packaging and shipping fuel than most liquid formulas. Still, you’ve got to be careful with charcoal washes, unless “50 shades of grey” is how you like your bathtub floor.

On Mar. 19, Crown Affair introduced a dry shampoo in a refillable container, with a kabuki brush for application and a formula based on tapioca powder.

Fragrance

Aaron Judge is the new face of Ralph Lauren Fragrances. In the campaign, he’s swinging a bat in a loose white tee. In general, I think guns should be illegal, but his are pretty good.

© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Beauty
Analysis and advice on the fast-evolving beauty business.

How Should We Feel About Tweens at Sephora?

There’s something both innocent and concerning about 13-year-olds’ obsession with skincare. Kids will always want to find new ways to express themselves, but the beauty industry has a responsibility to protect its youngest customers.


Why Puig’s IPO Timing Couldn’t Be Better

The family-owned Spanish conglomerate has confirmed it will pursue a public offering in the coming months. After a fairly fast transformation, the company now has a bold diversification strategy and a strong mix of brands in place, making it more ready than it has ever been for the European markets.


view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
CONNECT WITH US ON
The Business of Beauty Global Awards - Deadline 30 April 2024
© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
The Business of Beauty Global Awards - Deadline 30 April 2024