Inventor of the scrunchie dies, leaving behind a legendary fashion legacy

The scrunchie is everywhere. And although its acceptance in pop culture and fashion has ebbed and flowed since its invention in 1986, the scrunchie has refused to go away.

It’s been hailed by some as a genius product that’s both functional and fashionable, while derided by others as an accessory that screams “periphery.” Regardless, the former singer and pianist widely known for inventing the fabric-wrapped garter, Rommy Hunt Revson, left her mark on fashion history. She died on September 7 at the age of 78.

In a 2016 interview with Talk about Business and PoliticsRevson said she invented the scrunchie as an alternative to plastic and metal hair ties. At the time, she was house sitting in the Hamptons. Although once married to Revlon cosmetics empire heir John Revson, she said she had no claim to wealth, so she had to make money where she could.

“I went to South Hampton and bought some fabric and found a $50 used sewing machine,” she said Talk about Business and Politics. “This was a pretty big purchase for me on a housekeeping budget, but I bought it and took it home.”

Within weeks, she had taught herself how to sew and had a working prototype. Inspired by the elastic waistband design on her sweatpants and named after her dog, the “scunchie” (pronounced SKOON-chee) was born. It would only later become known as the scrunchie.

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

The rise and fall (and rise) of the scrunchie

Sara Radin, a self-described scrunchie enthusiast and briefly the unofficial historian of the Internet, wrote in a 2019 Teen Vogue article design solved a problem for women in the 1980s.

“At a time when big hair was in the hair, the scrunchie offered women a way to pull it back without damaging it, unlike standard rubber bands, taking basic hair ties to the next level,” writes Radin. . “Besides, it was just another way to accessorize their already indecent looks.”

In the following years, pop culture and entertainment icons – from Madonna to Paula Abdul Full HouseMichell Tanner – elevated the scrunchie to universal stardom. NASA astronaut Pamela Melroy wore a blue suit in space, which is commemorated at the Smithsonian today.

But like all trends, the era of the scrunchie came to an end.

“Trends tend to disappear when they become super-massive and become associated with a particular type of person,” said Patrick Michael Hughes, a historian of fashion and decorative arts at Parsons School of Design.

In a particularly iconic turning point in the scrunchie saga, Sex and the CityCarrie Bradshaw’s delivered a resounding condemnation of the accessory.

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 at W Magazine and lives on Perry Street would be caught dead in a downtown restaurant wearing a scrrrrrunchie!”

“It was very humorous because it was very real,” Hughes said of the scene. “New York [in the ’90s] it was kind of glamorous and things were really growing in the city in terms of nightlife, and going out and being dressed up and playful… And there was a certain look to the New York woman. And a scrunchie wasn’t part of it.”

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

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

Kevin Mazur / WireImage



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

But fast forward two decades, and the early 2000s look is back. And riding this wave of nostalgic revival back to its former glory: the Scrunchie.

“There is [been this] kind of resurgence of Y2K fashion, and it’s been coming through the pipeline for a few years,” Hughes said. “We start to see celebrities on the red carpet wearing a dress, but not necessarily in their hair, sometimes on the wrist of the hand. or something like that. It becomes kind of cool again.”

Scrunchies are also back on TV, making an appearance on it Foreign things, for example. At the same time, the rise of the sport’s entertainment cemented the scrunchie’s place in many people’s everyday wardrobe, Radin said.

Hughes is skeptical that the scrunchie is back to stay. And Google search data shows interest in scrunches increased in 2019, but remained on average higher than pre-2019 levels.

However, Revson leaves a lasting impact on fashion.

“I think it has a very significant place in the sense that it’s really a trend,” Hughes reflected. “It’s something that emerged in popular taste and popular culture, just like skinny jeans, and it had a really strong moment.”

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

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