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Moment 9: Hair Raising

WWD covered the beginnings of the hair color industry after L'Oréal invented hair dye in 1909, with ad campaigns by Clairol appearing in the Sixties.

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Jean Harlow the original platinum blonde

Jean Harlow, the original platinum blonde.

Photo By Keystone/Getty Images

Hair color has been a category of interest for WWD even before the paper began covering beauty as a news organization in 1973. Prior to then, beauty news was handled by the paper's fashion team, with small snippets on the latest trends seen at opera events, horse shows and Ivy League football games, including coverage on coiffures. On January 10, 1964, for example, WWD's beauty column, The Beauty Part, reported how Clairol "whisked the fashion press...[for a] personal hair coloring analysis" with trends for the upcoming season described as "smooth straight hair losing ground to soft curls" and "pink tones [seen in] Clairol hair tints." In the Seventies and Eighties, coverage focused on the two large tag lines of the era: "Does she...or doesn't she?" by Clairol, and "Because I'm Worth It," by L'Oréal, which invented hair dye in 1909. In the Nineties, celebrity spokespeople began taking the place of tag lines. By May 2001, WWD's extensive coverage of the multibillion-dollar category replaced trend reports, when a story about Procter & Gamble buying Clairol for $4.5 billion landed on page one.

In the past nine years, WWD has covered and often interviewed stars including Andie MacDowell, Beyoncé, Eva Longoria, Angela Kinsey, Cindy Crawford, Sheryl Crow, Sarah Jessica Parker and Teri Hatcher for brands like Nice 'n Easy, L'Oréal Preference and Revlon. But the marriage between celebrities and hair color harkens back to the Thirties, when actress Jean Harlow, who can arguably be called the first platinum blonde, appeared in the 1931 movie of the same name, kicking off an industry. Other actresses served as hair role models, too. As WWD reported on November 6, 1931, one favored hairstyle at the season's Annual Autumn Ball at Tuxedo Park showed that "one pretty blonde approved a rather long bob fluffed at one side in the manner popularized by Norma Shearer in pictures."