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Picturing a World

Rachel again

After reading my post on Rachel powder, a friend told me about playing with her mother's and aunts' cosmetics when she was a little girl. She had a hazy memory of seeing something labeled Rachel. That sent me back to the internet, and voilà, more information about Elizabeth Arden products and the company's history here and here. What useful details for fiction set in the 20th C! My old editor at Berkley thought I should set Anonymity in a more glamorous industry than publishing. I sarcastically queried, such as interior decorating? Good idea! she said.

Along those lines she might have liked a novel set in the beauty or fashion industry. Or perhaps a heroine who fights for the advertising account of a cosmetics firm. Or an artist who goes commercial big time.
To me, this image teases more along the lines the real advertiser intended. Who is the character depicted? That knowing expression with its hint of challenge, the tilt of the hat, those flexible fingers with their red nails. Sophisticated, yes, but old money or a climber? She wants you to think she's successful, that's for sure, and dares you to emulate her. But is she a downtown lady who lunches, a suburban lady of leisure, or the Other Woman? Is she Manhattan, Hollywood, or on her way up from Peoria? Satisfied or bored? And which does she value more, her luxuries or her freedom? If she tells you her story, let me know.

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