Archive for 1930s

Radio Active Beauty…

Posted in Fashion, History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2012 by Mj Rains

Delving into the beauty world with my new job has drawn me to a fascination with historic beauty products, and imagine my delight when this Wit came across a deliciously strange article called 8 Fascinating French Beauty Fads.  #3 of the 8 fascinations had me spell-bound.

In 1932, Dr. Alfred Curie launched a Tho-Radia line of beauty products that were made from, you guessed it, radio-active materials such as thorium chloride and radium bromide. Thorium is a radio-active chemical element named after the God of thunder, Thor, and has been experimented with as an alternate source for nuclear power plants. Pure thorium is a silvery-white metal that maintains a lovely luster for a long time…which was no doubt why Alfie injected it into his cream, cleansing milk, face powder, lipstick, and even toothpaste (the thought makes me cringe…).

Radium Bromide is a bromide salt discovered in 1898 by Pierre and Marie Curie, who curiously are no relation to our French doctor Alfie. This salt form of radium keeps the chemical from turning black and made the radium easier to work with, though it was highly radio-active and so dangerous in that it could explode under certain conditions.

So, was Tho-Radia guaranteed to make you glow?

Tho-Radia promised lighter and brighter skin. The ads featured a glowing (no pun intended) woman who taunts, “Stay old if you want.”

Or, uh, what?…die trying?

For more interesting French beauty fads of the past, some literally worth dying for, check out People, Places and Bling, for a most interesting, and a bit creepy, article.

xoxo, Wit

Vintage Photo of the Week

Posted in Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2012 by Mj Rains

Vintage Cigarette Ad

Alfred Cheney Johnston


Vintage Photo of the Week

Posted in Photography with tags , , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by Mj Rains

Albert Einstein

by Lotte Jacobi


Caresse Crosby…a part of Anais Nin’s diary…

Posted in Anais Nin with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2011 by Mj Rains

Party at Kay de San Faustino’s and Yves Tanguy’s.  Caresse Crosby enters with the bouyancy of a powder puff, a caressing voice (was this how she gained the nickname of Caresse from Harry Crosby?), her fur hat, her eyelashes, her smile all glittery with animation.  The word on her lips is always yes, and all her being says yes yes yes to all that is happening and all that is offered her.  She trails behind her, like a plume of a peacock, a fabulous legend.  She ran the Black Sun Press in Paris, lived in a converted windmill, knew D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Andre Breton, painters, writers.  At the Quartre Arts Ball she once rode a horse as Lady Godiva.

The life of certain women dresses them in anecdotes which become more visible than fur coats or silk dresses.  Stories surround Caresse like a perfume, a necklace, a feather.  She always seems fresher and younger than all the women there, because of her mobility, ease, flowingness.  D. H. Lawrence would have called it her “livingness.”  A pollen carrier, I thought, as she mixed, stirred, brewed, concocted her friendships by a constant flux and reflux of activity, by curiosity, avidity, amorousness.”

This was just a nice descriptive piece that I read last night in Anais Nin’s Diary, book three, 1939-1944.  Anais had just arrived in New York City from war-torn Paris, and was deeply homesick for her favorite city and all her friends. The the recent publication of her book, Winter of Artifice had made her well-known, and invitations began flowing to her, like this one she mentions at Kay de San Faustino’s.  This was in the winter of 1939.

A note on the subject matter. Caresse Crosby was married to Harry Crosby, a famous poet and writer, and the two were quite promiscuous, which is an understatement to say the least, in their married life, known for their partying, affairs (seven in bed at one time), drug use…basically they would make any current Hollywood celeb’s grandiose activities seem like child’s play. Harry Crosby died tragically in a double suicide pact (or so it is thought)  with one of his lovers years before this was written, and may be one of the “stories” that “surround Caresse like a perfume, a necklace, a feather” as quoted above by Anais. Caresse’s real name was Mary Phelps Jacobs and she was known for inventing the bra.  Just love discovering little pieces of history like this.


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