First popular during the Roman period and despite being mostly associated with the 17th and 18th centuries the fashion for beauty patches was revived several times in the 20th century as well.
Known as Mouches or “flies” the more modern craze for these patches was first identified around 1910-12 when this particularly lovely box was produced.
It is quite rare to find a box containing the original weaved cotton patches and this is a particularly lovely example containing different shapes including stars and circles. Even more interestingly this product was imported by Maurice Levy famed for inventing the metal lipstick case so a great example from a well-known company with a great history.
By 1915 the fashion for patches had increased to a level that companies more associated with medical products, such as Johnson & Johnson, had jumped onto the bandwagon.
In fact, they were ideally placed to produce these products as they had been making Court Plasters, the forefathers of the Band-Aid, since 1887 and used the leftover materials to produce the newly fashionable patches.
Johnson & Johnson provided consumers with the opportunity to purchase 100 assorted patches in an envelope or 300 patches in a decorative box. The shapes, including stars, crescents, arrows, hearts and circles, were made out of black silk or velvet with an adhesive on the back for easy sticking.
Although this fashion continued into the 1920s it soon fell out of favour again before being briefly revived in 1948 with a piece in Life Magazine.
Used to draw attention to your best features and your perfect complexion the silk pieces came in the traditional shapes of stars, arrows and crescents and were placed on your eyes, lips or even your back. There even seems to be one shaped as a person which is fabulous and reminiscent of the illustration of patches in Bulwer’s Artificial Changeling (1653).