Blonde Bombshells: How 3 Women Redefined Sexy Forever

Blonde Bombshells: How 3 Women Redefined Sexy Forever

There is nothing more glamorous in the golden age of Hollywood than the blonde bombshell. This archetypical actress was always beautiful, desirable, charming and witty with the power to influence trends in fashion, beauty and the arts both at the peak of their fame and in the 21st century. The effect of these blonde bombshells is still prevalent today as they continue to be a source of inspiration and fascination for cultural historians, artists and creatives from across the globe. Whilst the actress most synonymous with the blonde bombshell title is none other than Miss Marilyn Monroe, there are numerous strong-willed, bleached-haired beauties from the era who paved the way for Marilyn. Each woman had their own signature look and charismatic personality, emulated by women and adored by men to this day. Let’s explore three women in Hollywood who redefined sexy forever on the silver screen and within our modern societies. 

jean harlow profile


The original blonde bombshell and Hollywood’s favourite ‘bad girl’ and sex symbol of the 1930s, Jean Harlow was born Harlean Carpenter in 1911. She was effortlessly sexy and droll, known for her sharp sense of humour and quick quips. Harlow was the catalyst for the term ‘platinum blonde’ as before her hair experiments there was no dye on the market that could match the brightness of her blonde locks. Her stylists used actual bleach as well as peroxide, ammonia, and soap flakes to achieve her signature colour and ensure she stood out in Tinseltown. Her platinum mane became so coveted and unique that film producer and businessman Howard Hughes offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could colour-match Harlow’s hair but no one was ever able to do so. Of course, platinum blonde is now a staple of any hair salon, but before Harlow most film starlets were brunettes such as Clara Bow. Without Miss Harlow and her charm, the craze may have never taken off as quickly as it did, nor been as enduring. She was undeniably the sex symbol of the early 1930s, often dressed for films in slinky dresses and low-cut satin gowns that were so tight, Harlow would have to be sewn into them for her scenes. Jean wasn’t just a pretty face either, her socialite appearance matched with her sass and relatable jokes made her a symbolic bridge between classes as people from all walks of life could identify with her. 

mae west on lounger


Known for her blonde tresses, hourglass figure and quick one-liners, Mae West advocated for female sexual desire untethered to shame and sin. Born in 1893, West began her career on stage and as a vaudeville star before moving into the realm of film, becoming the highest-paid woman and second-highest-paid person in the country by 1935. Her box office success allowed her opportunities to write her own scripts however the strong censorship at the time curbed her creativity. She would cleverly write extremely risque lines, knowing that they would be removed but hoping the lines she actually wanted to stay in the script would be left alone and deemed less offensive when compared to her dud lines. It wasn’t only female empowerment that West fought for, in 1934 she insisted that musician Duke Ellington and his orchestra accompany the score of her film ‘Belle of the Nineties' despite protests from the studio due to his ethnicity.  Her refusal to be boxed in as the damsel in distress, her business prowess and her unabashed sexuality have cemented Mae West as one of the most influential women in Hollywood. Her campy humour, voluptuous curves and enchanting husky voice shifted what was deemed desirable at the time, and whilst she was unequivocally beautiful, it was her big heart and intellect that most women wished to emulate. 

marilyn monroe posing


Arguably the most famous sex symbol in the world, Marilyn Monroe changed Hollywood’s perception of sexiness forever. Monroe was born in 1926 as Norma Jean Mortenson and shot to fame in the 1950s for her comedic timing, striking good looks and warm disposition. Although her onscreen persona was ditzy and naive, the real Marilyn was formidable and driven, beginning her own film production company in 1955 after a rough and restricted experience whilst contracted to 20th Century Fox. The production company wanted to craft her image to cater to the male gaze, and Monroe helped create this public image by playing the role expertly, eventually exerting full control towards the end of her career by devising publicity stunts and forming friendships with news and gossip writers. Marilyn was always in on the joke and would play up to this sexually available and airheaded character by parodying herself with witty double entenders, demonstrating her quick wit and self-awareness, as well as understanding what was required of her to reach astronomical levels of success and fame. Also, her hourglass figure was pivotal at the time for changing beauty standards as her voluptuous figure broke away from the coveted slender and petite body types of the 1930s and 40s. Often described by peers as sweet and humble, Marilyn tried to uplift others as much as she could. Famously, she helped catapult African-American singer, Ella Fitzgerald, into the spotlight when the owner of L.A jazz club Mocambo refused to let Fitzgerald perform due to her race. Fitzgerald notes that:

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt… she personally called the owner of The Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play in a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman, a little ahead of her time. And, she didn’t know it.

Marilyn’s influence is littered throughout the world’s media and culture, from depictions in modern art to references on the runways, and although she was physically alluring, it was her creative mind and gentle personality which has captured our hearts and interest over the decades. 

Scarlett Gasque was created with all these compelling women in mind, drawing direct inspiration from their glitzy glamour, ultra-femininity and powerful presences. These women might have played dumb on the silver screen, but many were invested in important political movements such as the civil rights movement, advocating for gender equality or acting as LGBTQ+ allies. It is this subtle duality between soft and strong that we’ve placed at the heart of our brand, and whilst all these women and more have helped shape Hollywood’s definition of sexy, at Scarlett Gasque we celebrate all the varied forms people come in, just as these women did because we believe sexiness cannot be boxed or contained.

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