1. Chanel No. 517 Awards
In the summer of 1920, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel asked perfumer Ernest Beaux to make a fragrance that would allow a woman to smell like a woman and not like a flower. "She was looking to define a new sense of modern feminine identity: overtly sexy, but with nothing dirty about it," says Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of The Secret of Chanel No. 5 (HarperCollins). Beaux reportedly based No. 5 on a perfume he'd concocted for the Russian market in 1914, called Rallet No. 1.
"It flopped, so when Coco tapped him, Beaux developed ten different adaptations of his original formula," says Mazzeo. "The fifth sample became Chanel No. 5." Five was also Coco's lucky number: She was a Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac. Other elements were equally personal. The square-cut bottle may have been modeled after a flask carried by a former lover. Another theory has it based on the shape of the Place Vendôme, the area outside the Hotel Ritz, where Coco lived. She originally intended to share the scent with only 100 of her best clients, and it wasn't until 1921, when the perfume's immense popularity compelled Coco to sell it in her boutiques, that No. 5 went public. "It was the first floral perfume made to evoke a bouquet rather than a single bud," says Chanel master perfumer Jacques Polge. Today, Chanel No. 5 is the best-selling perfume in the world.
True believers in the adage "If it ain't broke," Maybelline has not changed the Great Lash formula in the 40 years since the mascara's inception. More remarkable still, someone in the U.S. buys one of these pink-and-green tubes every 1.7 seconds. The secret lies in the mascara's glossy blue-black pigments and wet consistency, says Debra Coleman-Nally, director of research and development for Maybelline New York. Makeup artist Troy Surratt adds, "Whether you want a natural, lash-tinted effect or a full-on glam look, this is one mascara that can do it all."
Originally known simply as Yellow Moisturizing Lotion, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion was part of Clinique's 3-Step Skin Care System in 1968. New York City dermatologist Norman Orentreich created the product on his own in the early 1960s before eventually becoming a cofounder of Clinique. "It wasn't a quick or easy process," says dermatologist David Orentreich, Norman's son. "But through long-term trial and error, Dad created something ideal for a broad variety of skin conditions." Says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer, "It's a simple oil-in-water emulsion designed to absorb quickly and hydrate well." The yellow tint that makes the moisturizer so recognizable today served a similar purpose back then: "My father chose yellow to distinguish it from prescription lotions of the day, which tended to be white," Orentreich says. It contains no SPF, antioxidants, or anti-aging ingredients— pretty standard for the '60s. Yet even in 2011, these omissions don't seem to bother the moisturizer's die-hard fans. "People who love this stuff really love it," says Francesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "You can put pretty much anything over it—sunscreen, foundation, powder—without it pilling."
In the early 1990s, glam gave way to grunge, Clinton supplanted Bush, and blowouts replaced big hair, ushering in a need for frizz control. "At the time, there were hundreds of products for adding body, but not one to tame frizz," says British hairstylist John Frieda. "Most people tried to contain their hair with gel simply because that's all they had, but it left them sticky." Working with a chemist and his business partner, a fuzzy-haired woman named Gail Federici, Frieda developed a silicone-based serum specifically to prevent frizz. "The very first formula our chemist delivered was spot-on," Frieda recalls. "We tested it on Gail and were blown away. So I gave samples to the stylists in my London salon, and soon we had customers trying to bribe us for our little bottles."
The serum instantly turned even fried hair glossy and smooth "by forming a light, humidity-proof sheath around each strand that held the cuticle flat, so it couldn't raise up and look fuzzy or dull," says Joseph Cincotta, a cosmetic chemist who has worked at John Frieda in the past. Since it had the potential to leave hair looking lank and dirty if misused—applying it to soaking-wet hair is key—Frieda and Federici appeared on morning talk shows and visited drugstores and malls around the country to teach women how to use it. "This got the word out," says Cincotta, "and made Frizz-Ease a phenomenon"—and poufy hair a thing of the past.
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