A retro interview with Rachel Weingarten, beauty guru and author of a new guide about beauty and fashion in the 40’s – 60’s, “Hello Gorgeous!” (IM Interview)
Rachel Weingarten: Hey Veronika!
Veronika asks: Hello! I’m happy you found some time to answer my questions. OK, so would you like, please, to introduce yourself to our readers…
Rachel Weingarten: Nice to meet all of you! and our lovely host(ess) Veronika, I’m Rachel Weingarten and I wrote a cool new book called: Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ’40s-’60s
Veronika asks: I’m fond of Astrology (and I check the horoscope sayings). According to those, Sagittarius usually are straightforward, freedom-loving and careless. Are you a typical Sagittarius ?
Rachel Weingarten: It’s funny, I try not to believe my horoscope (but read it anyway I think that I am very much a Sag. I’m very optimistic and outgoing, but not at all careless! I’m hyper-responsible and have been since I was a little girl. I am freedom loving to a fault
Veronika asks: Tell us more about “Hello Gorgeous !”…
Rachel Weingarten: It’s a book about beauty advertising in America in the mid last century. It has over 300 images, 100 pieces of crazy/fun/interesting trivia and very brilliant (if I do so say myself) commentary throughout. While some people think that the subject of makeup might be ‘fluffy’ to me it clearly illustrates the way that women’s spending power has evolued…It’s going to be required reading in a few colleges in the states in Women’s Study, Marketing & Advertising classes- and that’s been a major thrill for me!
Veronika asks: That’s great ! Why did you choose the forties – sixties ? What (or who) gave you that idea ?
Rachel Weingarten: There are quite a few reasons. I’ve always been into makeup (and am a former celebrity makeup artist) and to me that time is when Hollywood really became a major presence in shaping the way that women viewed themselves. Economically, it was the first real time in history that marketers understood that women had a lot to say about how money was to be spent in this country/and the world, and it was also the first time that teenagers were perceived to be a strong economic power. In other words, the youth culture and strength of women was just being born!
Rachel Weingarten: (back to Sagittarius, I’m afraid that I’m a cliche’ Sag, since I just noticed the ’straightforward’ and ulp – I almost always tell it like it is!)
Veronika asks: Okay… so you’ve been a former celebrity makeup artist. Many girls would say it’s the dream job!
Rachel Weingarten: In many ways it was, since I always loved doing makeup, so in essence it was a dream come true. That being said, our dreams (when they become reality) aren’t always exactly what we thought that they might be. There was a lot of bad in all of the good….
Veronika asks: As usual, isn’t it ?
Rachel Weingarten: agreed. I still look back fondly at that time, but don’t think it’s a career that I’d go into now. It’s unbelievable the insecurity that the most beautiful women in the world seem to face, and it can be a real downer. Add to that the very weird Hollywood lifestyle, and I feel happier away from it.
Veronika asks: (Yes, sitting in front of the TV we always think that Hollywood is Heaven, without any problems)
Veronika asks: People often say they write about what they’d like to experience themselves. Would you like to bring the 40’s – 60’s back?
Rachel Weingarten: No, I can’t say that I would. While it was a more ‘innocent’ time, (if you can call living in the brand new nuclear era/post WWII era innocent) it was also a time when the women’s movement was still trudging uphill. We (as women) take for granted the fact that we can choose any career that we want, and be able to support ourselves, and make choices about who to marry (and even if we want to get married) but the truth is, that the women who came before us worked hard and fought harder to make our lives easier. Also, I love my computer and other conveniences
Veronika asks: Right!
Rachel Weingarten: Also, my parents are European immigrants, and went through the Holocaust, so no, I can’t say that living in the ’40s would be great.
Rachel Weingarten: The ’60s on the other hand, especially in swinging London might have been very cool indeed! And all the crazy clothes and makeup!
Veronika asks: That’s right, I’m a nostalgic myself (but especially about 80’s)
Rachel Weingarten: The best thing about our own time is that we can dress any way we want any day of the week! (can you imagine living in the ’50s and wearing girdles to school, or gloves and hats?)
Rachel Weingarten: I grew up in the 80s, and I’m still nostalgic! I looooooove 80s music, makeup but not the hideous hair
Veronika asks: Whoops, love the hair!
Rachel Weingarten: that’s because you didn’t see my hideous hair in the 80s!
Veronika asks: But talking about make-up, were the 40’s better?
Rachel Weingarten: in terms of the quality?
Veronika asks: Yes, and even in terms of how women used to wear make-up
Rachel Weingarten: interesting question. I LOVE the look of the forties, the glamorous hair, makeup, nails…the makeup cases were exquisite too. that being said, in our own times the formulations are magnificent! we’ve used technology to create products that make us look better, or even like we’re not wearing makeup….but…..there was something so sexy about the fact that women could get all dressed up, powdered, lipsticked just to go to the store. so it’s the best and worst in a way!
Veronika asks: It was more “Hollywoodian”
Rachel Weingarten: but also keep in mind that back then that was the ONLY way to look! in our times whether you find it beautiful or not, individuality is the order of the day…
Rachel Weingarten: Yes. It was all in homage to the Hollywood look, then again they also smoked because it was considered very sophisticated!
Veronika asks: How did you research the book?
Rachel Weingarten: OMG. It was a nightmare- in the best possible way I have always loved history, pop culture and social history, so I’ve always been a voracious reader and remembered quite a bit about what I’d read. I then had to spend weeks in the library looking through old newspapers, magazines, and books to confirm that what I remembered was correct. I also interviewed tons of people. From people who were actresses back then (one of Grace Kelly’s bridesmaids) to people in advertising, to makeup artists, to hollywood people. it was EXHAUSTING!!! but soo much fun
Veronika asks: I imagine…
Rachel Weingarten: and it’s something that I love, so it was an adventure..
Veronika asks: Will you continue with guides ? Or would you like to write a novel ?
Rachel Weingarten: I’m working on two non fiction books, and am also working on the beginnings of a novel. A friend of mine told me that I have to write a novel since she has nothing good to read!
Veronika asks: By the way, what are your preferences, talking about cosmetics ? Some pieces of advice?
Rachel Weingarten: hmmm. I love the pop culture aspects, the fact that it’s history but it’s fun and interesting, I also know a ton about cosmetics and love sharing my info with everyone!
Veronika asks: You should open a blog about it
Rachel Weingarten: what kind of advice? on cosmetics, or beauty, or defining your own style
Veronika asks: On beauty products, for example
Rachel Weingarten: Ah. I’m working on something new not yet launched! Not a blog per se, but a cultural exploration of cosmetics and the beauty industry
Rachel Weingarten: Okay advice: I believe (as corny as it sounds) that each and every person on earth has a unique beauty, and that you should not try to copy the magazines if it makes you feel bad, but if you see a new technique for eyes or lips to give it a shot. I also don’t think that you need to spend a fortune to look beautiful. I think that when it comes down to it, it’s always self confidence that makes you shine!
Veronika asks: Well, I have an usual question: the nothing-in-common-with-books question one. You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use the money?
Rachel Weingarten: ooh. good question. i’d probably buy books. i’d give some to charity, and then maybe treat a friend to a girly movie…okay, who am i kidding i’d blow it on lipgloss!!!!!!!!
Veronika asks: lol
Rachel Weingarten: I’m predictable!
Veronika asks: Oh, Rachel, you said that self confidence makes you shiny! Why lipgloss ?
Rachel Weingarten: nah, i really would get books first, then lipgloss, then movies and make sure to give some to a good cause
Veronika asks: That’s a good program
Rachel Weingarten: i’m addicted to lipgloss! i don’t need a lot to make me feel good. I don’t mean that people need a bareface, but i also mean that you don’t have to go and change everything about yourself to try to conform to what society considers beautiful!
Veronika asks: Sure
Rachel Weingarten: i knew that we were on the same page!
Veronika asks: Well, is there something you’d like to add? About your book, your projects, fashion?
Rachel Weingarten: Oh, I was going to actually add something about you, but I’ll incorporate everything into a ‘closing’ statement!
Veronika asks: Me? Ooh… 🙂
Rachel Weingarten: I think that it’s amazing to look to our past to figure out how we got to be where we are. So for that reason, yeah, I love looking at the asthetics of the mid last century, from the hair to the lips to the eyes and more….but, and it’s a big but (not that kind!) look at you, you live in France, and are enamored with books and have the self confidence, talent, drive and interest to create an online environment to share your love of books with others. So in a nutshell, I love the journey that we as creative women are on. And yes, I love lipgloss, because it’s fun and makes me feel anything from dramatic, to sweet. In our own times, you don’t have to have only one label, I can be a girly, independent author and still giggle over eyeshadow with a close friend. make sense?
Veronika asks: Yes. Exactly.
Rachel Weingarten: whew!
Veronika asks: That’s really nice to say that.
Rachel Weingarten: it’s what I believe! I told you that I was impressed! (and I don’t impress that easily)
Veronika asks: 🙂
Rachel Weingarten: I also think that we have a responsibility to make the world better, and it doesn’t mean that there’s only one way to do it. If I bring joy to someone’s life with a book, or if you share your bliss, your love for books with others, you’ve actually increased all of the good feelings in the world.
Veronika asks: I hope so.
Rachel Weingarten: Again, corny but true! I also believe that whatever age or stage you are in your life you should always be helping others get to their next stage, and hope that they’ll continue to do the same for others. Karma baby!
Veronika asks: I totally agree!
Rachel Weingarten: Henri Bendel department store in NYC on 5th Avenue is doing an entire week of Hello Gorgeous! they’re even decorating the windows with a mannequin who will be wearing a ‘dress’ made out of my books. It’s from July 11-17 ! I’ll be there signing books that Wednesday evening and all day Sunday…
Veronika asks: Thanks for coming and answering my questions Ms. Weingarten!
Rachel Weingarten: It has been my pleasure chatting with you and getting to know you! And I look forward to hearing great things about you in the future! Actually, keep trying is probably the best life advice that I can give anyone!