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Scrunchie Inventor Dies, Leaving Fabulous Fashion Legacy: NPR


Rommy Hunt Revson, inventor of the iconic scrunchie, died on September 7.

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The darling is everywhere. And though its acceptance in pop culture and fashion has fluctuated since its invention in 1986, the darling has refused to go away.

It’s been hailed by some as an awesome product that’s both functional and fashionable, while others deride them as an accessory that screams “suburban”. Either way, the former singer and pianist widely credited with inventing the cloth-wrapped elastic, Rommy Hunt Revson, left her mark on fashion history. She died on September 7 at the age of 78.

In a 2016 interview with Let’s talk business and politics, Revson said she invented the scrunchie as an alternative to plastic and metal hair ties. At the time, she was a house keeper in the Hamptons. Although once married to the heir to the Revlon cosmetics empire, John Revson, she said she had no right to fortune and therefore had to make money where she could .

“I went to South Hampton, bought some fabric, and found a used $50 sewing machine,” she said. Let’s talk business and politics. “It was a pretty big purchase for me on a house keeper budget, but I bought it and took it home.”

Within weeks, she had learned to sew on her own and had a working prototype. Inspired by the elastic waistband design of his sweatpants and named after his dog, the “scunchie” (pronounced SKOON-chee) was born. Only later will he be known as the darling.

Revson patented the design, and once it got the product into retail stores, it took off. While some accounts credit Philips Meyers with designing a similar product in 1963, this is the Revson version we’re all familiar with.

The rise and fall (and rise) of the darling

Sara Radin, a self-proclaimed scrunchie enthusiast and briefly unofficial historian of internet scrunchies, wrote in a 2019 Article from Teen Vogue the design solved a problem for women in the 1980s.

“At a time when big hair was all the rage, the scrunchie offered women a way to pull it out without damaging it, unlike standard hair ties, while taking basic hair ties to the next level,” Radin wrote. . “On top of that, it was just another way to accessorize their already overdone looks.”

Scrunchie Inventor Dies, Leaving Fabulous Fashion Legacy: NPR

In the 2019 season of stranger thingsEleven (performed by Millie Bobby Brown) pulls a half-pony with a yellow scrunchie.

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Scrunchie Inventor Dies, Leaving Fabulous Fashion Legacy: NPR

In the 2019 season of stranger thingsEleven (performed by Millie Bobby Brown) pulls a half-pony with a yellow scrunchie.

Netflix/Netflix

In the years to come, pop culture and entertainment icons – from Madonna to Paula Abdul to Full houseby Michell Tanner – elevated the darling to universal stardom. NASA astronaut Pamela Melroy wore a blue scrunchie in space, which is commemorated in the Smithsonian to this day.

But like all trends, the era of scrunchies is coming to an end.

“Trends tend to fade when they become super en masse and associated with a singular type of person,” said Patrick Michael Hughes, a fashion and decorative arts historian at the Parsons School of Design.

In a particularly emblematic turning point in the saga of the darlings, sex and the cityCarrie Bradshaw’s Carrie Bradshaw delivered adamant condemnation of the prop.

Bradshaw, who is dating writer Jack Berger, tells Berger that it’s unrealistic for a female character in his book to wear a scrunchie in public. “No woman who works for W Magazine and lives on Perry Street would be caught dead in a trendy downtown restaurant wearing a scrrrruunchie!”

“It was very humorous because it was very true,” Hughes said of the scene. “New York [in the ’90s] was pretty glamorous and things were really skyrocketing in the city in terms of nightlife, going out, dressing up and gaming… And there was a definite look for the New York woman. And a scrunchie wasn’t one of them.”

A scrunchie was a sure sign of a suburban transplant in the city, Hughes said. “Kind of like UGG boots.”

The accessory therefore fell out of favor, its glory days in the fashion mainstream lost in the early 2000s.

Scrunchie Inventor Dies, Leaving Fabulous Fashion Legacy: NPR

Lizzo, in a jeweled scrunchie, poses with Lil Nas X at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.

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Scrunchie Inventor Dies, Leaving Fabulous Fashion Legacy: NPR

Lizzo, in a jeweled scrunchie, poses with Lil Nas X at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

But two decades later, the look of the early 2000s was back. And ride this wave of nostalgic renewal back to its former glory: the darling.

“There are [been this] revival of a sort of Y2K fashion, and it’s been a number of years,” Hughes said. “We’re starting to see celebrities on the red carpet wearing a scrunchie, but not necessarily in their hair, sometimes on their wrist or something like that. It’s getting pretty cool again.”

The darlings are also back on TV, appearing in stranger things, for example. At the same time, the rise of athleisure has cemented the scrunchie’s place in everyday clothing, Radin said.

Hughes is skeptical the darling is back to stay. And Google search data shows that interest in scrunchies increased in 2019, but remained at a higher average than pre-2019 levels.

Yet Revson leaves behind a lasting impact on fashion.

“I think that looms large in the sense that it’s really a trend,” Hughes said. “It’s something that popped up in popular taste and popular culture, just like skinny jeans, and had a really big moment.”

“He was a genius who came up with an invention that really changed the way women dress,” Radin said.

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