History of the Montezuma Red lipstick created by Elizabeth Arden
With the outbreak of WW2, Elizabeth Arden saw the changing needs of women as they entered the workforce. She started a fashion side to her business with designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Charles James, and together they taught women who to apply their makeup and dress appropriately for work.
In the 1940’s, Miss Elizabeth Arden designed a special shade, called Montezuma Red, to support women serving in WWII. The shade was made available as a lipstick, nail polish and blush and was a perfect match to the red piping on a female Marine uniform.
Once the public caught on to Montezuma, then naturally, they wanted one for civilians. Giving the public what they wanted, Arden obliged with Victory Red.
Now all women could show their patriotism, sacrifice and hard work but still hold onto a little glamour.
After a preliminary consultation with the Depot Quartermaster in Philadelphia, she went to New York to oversee the design and construction of model uniforms for the Women's Reserve by the Women's Garment Manufacturers of New York.
Before her 30-day assignment expired Mrs. Lentz decided to become a Marine, and became the first Woman Reservist when she was sworn in as a captain on 15 January 1943. The oath of office was administered by her husband, Brigadier General John M. Lentz.
On 11 June 1943, a Uniform Unit was created as part of the Women's Reserve Section at Marine Corps Headquarters to arrange for uniforming enlistees when assigned to active duty, replenishing clothing from time to time, and planning for future needs.
The original uniform regulations were published in August 1943 after approvals from the Uniform Board, the Commandant, and the Secretary of the Navy.
But, this was not an issue so easily settled and a final version reflecting numerous changes, modifications, and additions, was reissued on 30 April 1945 as Uniform Regulations, U.S. Marine Women's Reserve, 1945. These regulations remained in force and the uniforms of women Marines changed very little until a new wardrobe was designed by the French couturier, Mainbocher, in 1952.
The Mainbocher wardrobe was the only large-scale uniform change for women Marines. His theories on dressing military women have proved sound since at least two of his designs, the dress blue and winter service uniforms, have remained virtually unchanged for the 25 years from 1952 until 2018. Ensuing changes came piecemeal and usually were directed by economy rather than style.
The Department of Defense plan to standardize certain items and fabrics made their impact on women Marine uniforms in the early 1960s.