Sunday, 6 December 2009


Susan Sontag wrote that the inherently deceptive nature of photography can only provide, 'a semblance of knowledge, a semblance of wisdom; as the act of taking pictures is a semblance of appropriation, a semblance of rape' (On Photography, 1977).

Walter Benjamin (On Semblance, 1919-20) drew distinction between 'the semblance behind which something is concealed (for example, the seductive: the Lady World of medieval legend whose back is devoured by worms, while from the front she looks beautiful) and the semblance behind which nothing is concealed (a fata Morgana or chimera).

I recently read this on the Cosmetics and Skin site:

Roberta in the Arden straps

Reviewing magazine advertisements for Elizabeth Arden I am always struck by how long she used a bandaged face as the standard of beauty. The face belonged to Roberta – the favourite model of Madeline Vionnet, the couturier who introduced the fashion world to the bias cut. The photograph was taken by ‘Baron’ Adolf de Meyer, a vogue fashion photographer.

Despite the fact that the photograph appears in one form or another from the early twenties until the second world, Roberta remains essentially the same. Like a cartoon character she does not age. She always stares directly at the camera, her head is wrapped in what appears to be bandages. Strapping the face was much favoured by Arden salons. She had reputedly picked up the technique from a previous employer, Eleanor Adair, who promoted a strapping system, she called Ganesh, to lift sagging facial muscles (Woodhead, 2003, p. 92).

1927 Arden Advertisement

1939 Arden Advertisement

1913 Strapping treatment
1946 Maria Verni strapping and crowsfeet treatments

Vogue Paris

ARDENA CHIN STRAP. A small light strap made of silk webbing to be worn during the night to lift and hold the muscles of the face and chin in smooth, firm loveliness. An excellent strap to prevent or correct lines in front of the ears, to lift a drooping mouth, and to correct the harmful habit of sleeping with the mouth open. It also may be worn when resting, reading or while sewing. For a splendid treatment during the day first cleanse the neck and face with Ardena Cleansing-Cream and Skin Tonic. Saturate a moistened pad of cotton wool with Ardena Special Astringent and with this pat and knead the facial muscles. Dry the skin and pat on Orange Skin Food. Now mould the Astringent pad over the cheeks, along the jaw-bone and under the chin. Over this firmly adjust the Chin Strap. This treatment tends to firm and lift flaccid muscles, greatly improving the contour. Remove the Astringent pad within ten minutes and apply Ardena Astringent Cream on face and neck and Velva Cream around the eyes.

ARDENA CHIN STRAP DE LUXE. This is a heavier strap made of the finest brocade and interlined with astringent herbs which aid in invigorating and restoring relaxed muscles. This Strap is tailored to fit the cheeks and chin…it corrects and prevents the deep downward lines from nose to mouth and sagging under the chin. Its use is absolutely essential to every woman past thirty, or after illness, strain or worry…it holds every muscle of the lower part of the face and neck in proper position. It should be tightly adjusted and worn each day for fifteen minutes. Large, Medium and Small Sized.

ARDENA COMBINATION CHIN STRAP DE LUXE. The same excellent, faultlessly fitting Chin Strap with neck attachment. Large, Medium and Small .
NOTE: Chin Straps may be cleaned and restored for a small charge if returned to the London Salon of Elizabeth Arden

ARDENA FOREHEAD STRAP. A smooth fitting band which corrects frowning and erases forehead wrinkles. After cleansing the skin, pat on Orange Skin Food, adding Ardena Muscle Oil to soften and to help eliminate lines. Pat well on the deep lines between the eyes, then follow the line of the eyebrow, kneading firmly. Adjust the Forehead Strap tightly and leave on as long as possible. It will be found soothing and beneficial if left on overnight. Some of Miss Arden’s clients have found that wearing the Forehead Strap under their golfing hats prevents frowning on the links!

ARDENA HAIR-PROTECTA. A dainty and beautifully made elastic band to be worn when applying creams and lotions. Indispensable for protecting the hair.

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