Vintage Powder Room: Richard Hudnut’s Deauville Face Powder


Among the many products of the 1920s that were beautifully designed for the Richard Hudnut company, the Deauville face powder box is my favorite. I searched for an example in good condition to add to my collection of vintage beauty products for a few years before I finally located one in an online auction. Thankfully, my patience was well rewarded: the sides of the half-oval shaped container is covered in a sumptuous teal satin. You can sense the quality before you ever hold the box in your hand. 

Richard Hudnut is regarded as the first American to become an international success in the cosmetics business. Following his graduation from Princeton University, Hudnut toured France and was inspired to create his own line of luxe beauty goods and perfumes. He registered his trademark in both France and the United States in 1880, and for the next 36 years he built a brand that was admired for its quality and innovation.

Hudnut’s father owned a drug store on Broadway in New York City, which Richard transformed into an elegant showroom for his cosmetics and perfumes early in his career. The remodel was so popular that the former drug store became a tourist attraction, but Richard’s success with marketing didn’t end there. He began advertising in women’s magazines and selling his products through the mail. Mail order sales of beauty products wasn’t a new concept, but Hudnut’s offer of a money back guarantee was, and it made him a fortune.

Hudnut sold his business to William R. Warner & Company and retired to France in 1916. As you can see from the Deauville’s design, which debuted in 1924, Warner honored the Hudnut legacy of quality products and exquisite packaging.