Saturday, 12 October 2013

Los Angeles: Hollywood Museum

Max Factor building, then and now.

The Hollywood Museum
Los Angeles: September 2013

The Hollywood Museum was one of my favourite things in L.A. The beautiful art deco building was designed by Charles Lee and dates back to 1928 when Max Factor purchased it just before the Great Depression. The building itself would not open until 1935. During this period it was only actors of stage and screen who really wore makeup with polite society associating it with prostitutes. Max Factor changed all that. 

Born in Poland, Max Factor became the beautician/make-up artist to Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family before immigrating with his family to the United States in 1908. Through his innovative ideas, Factor built a cosmetic empire. From Hollywood royalty to housewives of America, his stylistic genius changed our vision of beauty. He was the first to teach the mantra of enhancing flaws as a point of difference and a sign of beauty.

It took nine years to restore the building to it's original state, with the museum opening in 2003.The ground floor houses many original displays from the old Max Factor Make-up Studio with one room for blondes, brunettes and another for redheads. It was in these rooms that Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Rita Hayworth became a red head. 

I cannot believe the extent and sheer volume of memorabilia in the museum. Housed across four floors it is truly overwhelming. Luckily when I was there the exhibit on the second floor was dedicated the the life of Marilyn Monroe. There were personal documents , her makeup, even the bottle of pills discovered next to her bed when she died. It was a well curated and enormous insight into the stars life and tragic death. The museum boasts the largest collection of genuine Monroe memorabilia.  

This is truly a stunning collection and the history of the building and the nostalgia it evokes for a time I did not experience is amazing. I loved it and spent the better part of a day here.    

Rita Hayworth's personal beauty kit

The Andrews Sisters!

Marilyn Monroe's personal makeup

Max Factor was the first to use celebrities to advertise his cosmetics.

What Max Factor used to look like!

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