Posted on Dec 30, 2015 in All Blog Posts

From Shakespeare to Tennyson, Byron to Keats, Sheridan to Swindberg…all authors of passion have something to say about love.


When it comes to matters of the heart and romance, we learned in Pucker Up and Under the Mistletoe , that a lady + a handkerchief create a formidable duo. Every girl needs at least one red hankie. A foolproof flirting foil, the crimson hankie doubles as a nimble wing man, attracting admirers from across the room. Our first handkerchief displays a plethora of romantic aphorisms framing the temptress in the center. It’s the perfect contrivance to initiate a conversation about favorite love poems. With an ardent teacher, hankie in hand, who wouldn’t agree to a little after school tutoring?

“He kissed me like a poet. Like he’s writing poems on my lips.”

Veronica Rossi, Brooke

Before we bid adieu to holiday hankies, let’s give one last swirl of the peppermint stick to this charmer. Note the doe’s adornment of foliage and star studded choker. Mama knows she’s hot, and practically prances on air to the delight of her doting fawn.


“You’ve got an awfully

kissable mouth.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby Girls


“Lips are the match that light the flame of passion.”

Coreen Cordova, Que Milagro

What have we here? Ruby lips, claret wine, scarlet fingernails, a crimson fire, juicy cherries – add a fierce feline and sexy cigarette to the recipe, and the banquet is complete. Every trigger imaginable to attract a gentleman adorns this semaphore of seduction. If your intended target can’t interpret these signals… jeesh, move on. Note that the message in the center “Pour le Rouge,” provides a convenient escape for the lass who protests she wasn’t flirting, but merely blotting her lips. A more subtle signal is sent by the feminine and flirty bow alongside. The polka dots and scallops echo a Lolita school girl fantasy.

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Note the ripe juicy cherries on the hankie above. Also note the blazing fire. Revlon’s best -selling lipsticks in the 1950’s were Cherries in the Snow and Fire and Ice. Not so surprising, given the imagery they invoked. What is astounding is they are still best sellers over half a century later! In fact, in 2010, Revlon hired Jessica Biel to recreate the famous 1952 Fire and Ice ad. Never underestimate the power of a lipstick. The original campaign opined: “For you who love to flirt with fire…who dare to skate on thin ice…A lush and passionate scarlet…like flaming diamonds dancing on the moon.” (Icewater anyone?)

Also note the scarlet fingernails featured on the hankie. Revlon was one of the first to have full page color ads in Vogue and Bazaar. One read: “Pick up a tea-cup, light a cigarette, draw on a glove. Your slightest gesture delights the eye . . . with lips and fingertips accented vitally, fashionably by Revlon Nail Enamel.” Revlon actually taught the fine art of flirting. Stay tuned, and at the end of the blog you can take Revlon’s Fire and Ice quiz to see if you’re a Fire and Ice girl.

“I keep breaking things – appointments and porcelain, thinking of your lips…”

John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

kisses-image012 Stopping for a red light – or red lips – is cleverly depicted in this charming hankie of sophisticated gray and brilliant red. The gent in this hand embroidered open roadster welcomes the fairer sex to hop aboard.kisses-image014

Traveling blindly down the highway of love, an unsuspecting Romeo zips along in his lipstick red roadster until wham!, fair damsel puts a crimp in his fender and his schedule. (What’s with the Thelma and Louise driving stance?) The gentleman provides soothing comfort to our wayward road warrior. But wait. What’s that naughty cupid doing, sequestered in a forest of love signs? It appears this romantic rendez vous was preordained.


“Never a lip is curved in pain that can’t be kissed into smiles again.”

Bret Harte

It’s a fine line between helpless maiden, and slick-lipped vixen. On one hand, we have a darling gal cornered by a squeaky mouse. On the other, a rather spooky pair of unattached lips floats in the Twilight Zone. Fine for Rod Serling, unnerving for me.


“I will miss your lips, and everything

attached to them.”

Elizabeth Town


“I don’t care who kissed you first, as long as I kissed you last.”

Richelle Mead, The Indigo Spell

kisses-image022 Still a bit spooky, but fanciful all the same. The limerick reads:A Romantic young farmer named Phipps once planted ten acres of lips. They came up in the fall, red lipstick and all, and he leisurely kissed them to bits!kisses-image024

Pink lipstick hankies appear less often, but are fun to find. The hankie on the left can accommodate a wardrobe of shades, while the ingénue on the right is just beginning to explore with make-up.

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Note the mademoiselle cradles a pair of adorable kittens. Animals were frequently the subject of lipstick handkerchiefs, particularly soft, innocent kittens. What man wouldn’t sigh, watching his beloved blot her lips, while one of these adorable kittens dangles from her fingertips? Naturally, by association, he thinks of his sweetheart as soft and helpless too. Women are masters of subtext.

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“You should be kissed often, and by someone who knows how.”

Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

Often the contrast between strong and soft, canine and feline was the subject of lipstick hankies.

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Dogs also had their day in the crimson sun with animal lovers, whether sporty terriers and retrievers, or pampered femme fatale French poodles.

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Gals who favored the hunting scene could carry a sprinting hare or sweet foal nestled in a meadow.

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Because they were carried daily, the ubiquitous handkerchief became a perfect venue for advertisers. Each hankie in the following trio is simply charming. The young lady in the bouffant hairdo is so treasured it takes seven porters to carry gifts from her admirers, along with a gargantuan rose from someone with a massive crush.

The dashing damsel on the right is totally girly girl, with no less than four bottles of perfume spilling from her handbag. As for the kissing couple beneath, who wouldn’t want to rendez vous at Bingo, when they gift you with such darling handkerchiefs? Much like we saw with the Swissair handkerchiefs in Air Travel, the graphics are paramount, while the advertising is minimal, making these fun and fashionable to carry.

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“Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.”

Charles Dickens

And what about those handkerchiefs that spell it out for you, complete with kiss after kiss? Since French is the language of love, why not add a pinch of it to the equation? Like pepper to the gumbo, a phrase or two adds ‘just enough’ for a perfect conversation starter. The SWAK letter loosely translates “A kiss which is responsible for tenderness.” Who wouldn’t want to receive a letter covered with kisses?

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The luscious lip prints sprinkled on the hankie to the right could certainly provide camouflage for another lip print or two. It reads “If it rained kisses, one would live outside.” I say let it pour…..

“I felt as if the Milky Way, hovering above our heads like a celestial pitcher, had suddenly overturned, pouring suns and planets down my throat. Stars seemed to be shooting out of my fingers and toes, and the ends of my hair.”

Meg Cabot, Abandon

As promised, Revlon’s groundbreaking Fire and Ice ad featuring Dorian Leigh and photographed by Richard Avedon, alongside the 2010 Jessica Beil ad. The obvious lesson here is when you get it right the first time, don’t mess with a good thing.


Melting a Male?

Madison Avenue copywriters went over the top. The ad read: “…There’s a new American beauty…she’s tease and temptress, siren and gamin, dynamic and demure. Men find her slightly, delightfully baffling. Sometimes a little maddening. Yet they admit she’s easily the most exciting woman in all the world. She’s the 1952 American beauty, with a foolproof formula for melting a male! She’s the “Fire and Ice” girl. (Are you?)

  1. Have you ever danced with your shoes off?
  2. Did you ever wish on a new moon?
  3. Do you blush when you find yourself flirting?
  4. When a recipe calls for one dash of bitters, do you think it’s better with two?
  5. Do you secretly hope the next man you meet will be a psychiatrist?
  6. Do you sometimes feel that other women resent you?
  7. Have you ever wanted to wear an ankle bracelet?
  8. Do sables excite you, even on other women?
  9. Do you love to look up to a man?
  10. Do you face crowded parties with panic – then wind up having a wonderful time?
  11. Does gypsy music make you sad?
  12. Do you think any man really understands you?
  13. Would you streak your hair with platinum without consulting your husband?
  14. If tourist flights were running, would you take a trip to mars?
  15. Do you close your eyes when you’re kissed?

“If you can honestly answer “yes” to at least eight questions, then you’re made of ‘Fire and Ice!’ …Wear it tonight. It may be the night of your lifetime!” Below is a copy of the original two page ad and quiz – an enormous investment of advertising dollars.


Before you guffaw, giggle or groan, remember this was 1952, and provides a bit of insight into the era. (There’s an unspoken undercurrent of feeling overlooked and/or misunderstood, along with a desire for more adventure.) And before you chuckle at what was considered feminine/fashionable in days gone by – i.e. Victorian bustles or Madison Avenue “it” girls, take a gander at today’s “sexy” shoes that leave women wobbling like newborn giraffes on the savanna. Oh ladies,fluttering a hankie is infinitely easier. 🙂

Just for Fun

It’s in His Kiss – Betty Everett, 1964

(The Shoop Shoop Song)


Then He Kissed Me – The Crystals, 1963



  1. 2-7-2014

    So, I’m a Fire and Ice girl. This questionnaire works! Have been buying it since I was sixteen. Won’t count the decades. Ann, you’re an imaginative writer and come up with fascinating research and illustrations. My tip for the day: if you want to find a man, don’t look for one. They appear when and where least expected. XXX000

  2. 2-28-2014

    my daughter c.j. sent me e-mails showing your collection of handkerchiefs which I really enjoyed viewing.

    I like the music that is included.

    • 3-15-2014

      Thank you for your kinds words. I’m most appreciative.

  3. 3-8-2017

    Love the romance! Brilliant as always.

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