RUBY RED – What’s Old Is New

I found this vintage ad for Gala “ruby red” lipstick from a 1948 U.K. Vogue magazine available for sale through paperdollgirls on Etsy.

I love the surreal feeling of the artwork.  It seems the creative director on this was probably influenced by Salvador Dali.  I also love that there is no actual woman in this.  Most beauty ads are nothing but a glamor shot … the folks who worked on this took a risk and did something totally unconventional.  Heck, it is a daring ad even for today!

In this ad, the usual central woman figure is replaced by an image of a gemstone resting on a luxurious velvet pillow with a pair of floating lips beside it.  Its underlying message seems not to be as trite as sex but that of elegance and preciousness.

I think the crown and the curtains may be overkill … too many symbols going on at once only serves to obfuscate the message.  However, if you read the copy, it seems the artwork is a direct illustration of the words …

A fabulous color, deepest, darkest ruby, a-flame with blue fire.  Smoother than velvet … to curtain your lips with magic.  Royal, rich, romantic — Precious Ruby

Nonetheless, this is a piece of very interesting and unusual advertising from the golden era of advertising … I am now on a hunt for more Gala ads … maybe there are more out there like this?


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