Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Lustre Creme Dream Girl (1948)
What is not to like about the above advertisement for Lustre Creme? I'm deeply, deeply in love with the Dream Girl's gold sequin gown, lilac corsage, to-beat-the-band costume necklace, and of course her shining, gorgeous red wave of a mane. Could that zebra print night club booth be any more 1948 night club? I can almost hear Xavier Cugat in the background of this ad. Could her date be any more on the sidelines? "Bill", though headlining the ad copy in seventy two point font at the middle of the page, is compositionally reduced to the sidelines, though his hair does (fittingly, for a hair care ad) look pretty good. Though he initially overlooks our russet headed heroine on account of her lustre-less hair, Bill definitely comes to his senses by the of the advertisement. How about this for a come on: "My heart stood still when he murmured: "Dream Girl, that gorgeous hair rates a bridal veil." And what a bridal veil! Bill, in his morning suit, gets some full-face screen time, but Dream Girl's perfect hair steals the show. Lustre Creme, the answer to your bachelor girl prayers!
If you search Life magazine on Google books, you can pull up dozens of these ads from 1948, promising the 18-34 women's demographic popularity, glamour, and even marriage with the continued use of Lustre Creme Shampoo. EVERY AD ends in a marriage or engagement. It's like the tacit promise of using this beauty aid is "curing" your single status. In addition to lovely hair in the finest technicolors of the decade, the Dream Girls boast gorgeous, inevitably elegant ensembles of evening gowns and enormous costume jewelry pieces... oh, anyone would want to be a Dream Girl!
I miss these over-the-top advertisements. I can remember in the 80s and early 90s still seeing highly developed, hypothetical stories of woe accompanying dishpan hands and hard tap water, but the advertising world seems to have moved more away from the maudlin in this, our twenty-first century. Another thing that always amazes me about vintage advertisement is the amount of WORDS. Someone had to write them, and someone had to think your average magazine flipper would pause mid-article and read them!
The above Dream Girl actually gets a name-- "Jeannie" works in the often glamorous field of music composition, but sadly suffers from glamour-free hair and the accompanying disinterest of her music partner, Fred. I'm glad someone told me how important hair is to snaring an unrequited love. Who knew? Night club singer friend Madge, with a near perfect upsweep and enviable evening gown, helps Jeannie get cosmetically up to speed with Lustre Creme (though I think she was doing a pretty good job camouflaging her hair with that elfin stocking cap like the one Stanwyck wears in The Lady Eve). Eh voilà! "Unsuspected loveliness gleamed forth in my hair!" intones Jeannie gravely, studying her transformation in the mirror. Isn't she the spitting image of Shirley Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer in that panel? I see stars where there aren't even stars. From the wedding panel: "It was mink and Lohengrin for me a few months later. Our new number clicked...and how!" Mink, I do understand, but I assumed Lohengrin was the name of some defunct department store-- turns out, it's the name of an opera. Those music lovers! Droppin' famous names! Still, you learn something every day.
This gal, the unfortunately nicknamed "Tangle-locks", despite her jaunty neck scarf and kelly green sweater, gets a bum rap due to her "stubbornly unruly" hair. "No wonder my favorite campus king never looked my way!" she sighs. Girlfriend Sally, however, introduces old Tangle to LC, and everything turns around at the senior dance! "That wonderful varsity man did look my way very intently...attracted by the shimmering beauty Lustre Creme shampoo revealed in my hair." They dance the last dance together, and then on graduation day, Mister Varsity proposes! Which prompts the Co-Ed Formerly Known as Tangle Locks to wax philosophically, "Marriage may not be made entirely by a shampoo. But Lustre Creme shampoo...did help me recapture my true hair beauty, and did help me attract and win my man." Preach it, sister. Also, lemme get that rhinestone hairclip. 'Kay, thanks.
"Cinderella had nothing on me in spending lonely man-less evenings," this ad begins. You had me at hello, anyone? "My hair was dull, rebellious. But my sister Mimi knew a special way to keep her lock gleaming, soft and glossy. So she won all the beaux, including my "one and only" Mr. Handsome!"
It ain't right! Mimi, you haircare hussy! Mimi, in a decidedly Miriam Hopkins-esque move, will not share her shampoo secret, so our Cinderella pries it out of her hairdresser. Spoiler alert: it's Lustre Creme shampoo. A few weeks after her one and only notices the change in her coiffure and falls madly in love with her? You guessed it. Look at her rhinestone collar and matched-to-dress-lipstick! Who wouldn't fall in love?
Last but not least:
HOW MUCH DO I LOVE THE TERM "BACHELOR GIRL"? So full of pep, zip, verve!
This Dream Girl starts out the ad mournfully listening to "that haunting melody with romantic words about a new shampoo. 'Dream Girl, beautiful Lustre-Creme girl...". Now, that's my kind of Top 40 hit! Brings a tear. "Would Lustre Creme really help? Would it turn Jim's casual friendship into something more?" What do you think?
I really think she's the most radiant bride of them all. And check out that bridesmaid at right. The bow on the hat! The roped pearls! Above all, the yellow! Like it, like it.
You can still buy Lustre Creme shampoo, or a reproduction of the defunct brand's formula, here.
Which Dream Girl is your favorite? Do you think any looked better before the miracle shampoo treatment? Do you have any swear-by, engagement getting, life changing hair care product allegiances? Do tell!
Next time, I'll show the CELEBRITY ads for this illustrious brand. Less interesting copy, but even MORE interesting photos. Til then!