Black Legends in Blackglama

Pearl Bailey, 1972. Photo by Richard Avedon

I never understood the wording of these once ubiquitous ads for mink coats.  The people pictured in the ads were contemporary celebrities—legends in their own time.  To underscore that fact, their names were never mentioned in the photo.  Surely they were more legendary than the minks they wore.

Initially the ads featured artists and actors, including a few men.  Two things surprised me looking through the Blackglama online archive—how many of early subjects were older, and also how many were black.  By my count, 71 different people were photographed for the ads between 1969 and 2015; 8 were African American.  This isn’t quite up to the percentage of blacks in the US population (12.1% in 2010), especially when one considers how many famous entertainers are black. But still I think it is a high figure for a US advertising campaign. 

The early ads were all in black and white, many taken by famous photographer Richard Avedon. Pearl Bailey was 54 in the photo above.

Lena Horne, 1969. Photo by Richard Avedon

And here is the fabulous Lena Horne, about 52 when the photo was taken in 1969.

Blackglama ads continued at least until 2017, much to my surprise.  But in recent ads, the photos are mainly of professional models. And let me just say there are a lot of young blondes.

This entry was posted in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990, 2000s, 2010s and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Black Legends in Blackglama

  1. Liza D. says:

    My favorite is of Vivienne Leigh. I saved a copy from the Sunday (NY) Times Magazine, back when. Still have it. As for the slogan, it’s asking and answering the question: What brand/item of clothing is most worthy of showing off someone truly fabulous? It could say, “What is most becoming to a legend? Why, our legendary fur, of course.”

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