Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum BLOG TOUR

Rouge final cover.jpg

Rouge is the story of three women who become entrepreneurs in the beauty industry in the 1930’s.  It follows their careers as they invent different types of cosmetics and the reason why they were invented.  It is the story of how women can be ruthless when they are climbing the all important “ladder” of success, and how each will step on the other’s toes to make it first to the top.
The story begins as the women’s rag to riches stories are each told. And how backstabbing between them never stopped, even when they all had succeeded.  For them it was not just the climb, but the obsession of staying at the top and trying to push everybody else down.  These women become obsessed with fame, power, fortune and social standing and will do anything, including murder, to stay there.
Josiah Herzenstein (Josephine Hertz) was born a Polish Jew who had to keep her heritage a secret.  When she leaves Poland to come to America she becomes a workaholic in order to prove her worth and creates a cosmetic company which skyrockets her onto the global stage.
Constance Gardner is her rival.  She too had ideas on what women would like, only her approach was a bit different.  She, like Josephine, has secrets of her own.  Secrets which could destroy her company.  And she skyrockets to fame as well.  Both women despise each other, and are jealous of the other’s fame and power. Unfortunately they feel there can only be room for one cosmetic heiress.
Cee Cee Lopez worked for Constance for many years.  She too had an invention which was overlooked.  As an African American woman her journey is very different than Josephine and Constance.  She will do anything to be the first African American woman to become a millionaire in the cosmetic industry.  When a situation occurs and she breaks with Constance she sees this as her chance.
Included in the intriguing story are of course love affairs, heartbreak and intense hatred among the rivals.  With everyone trying to vie to be the most extraordinary cosmetic genius, and each plotting against the other, can anybody survive?
This was such an interesting read with a different story.  It truly had it all.
Rouge comes out June 25.
Thank you to #NetGalley #St. Martin’s Press #Rouge #Richard Kirschenbaum for the advanced copy.


About the author:

RICHARD KIRSHENBAUM is CEO of NSG/SWAT, a high-profile boutique branding agency. He has lectured at Harvard Business School, appeared on 20/20, was named to Crain’s New York Business’s “40 under 40” list, and has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He is the author of Under the RadarClosing the DealMadboy, and Isn’t That Rich? and the New York Observer‘s “Isn’t That Rich?” column. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

ROUGE Blog Tour Q&A with Richard Kirshenbaum

  1. How did you become inspired to write ROUGE?

“I’m part of the first generation of men to have worked for the first generation of female entrepreneurs and executives. As an ad man, I also ran many cosmetic accounts throughout the U.S., from Avon to Revlon, and much in between. I was inspired by the female entrepreneurs who founded the first multi-billion dollar female driven industry, and was surprised that there hadn’t been a novel about the industry before this.”

  1. Can you talk about your research process?

“Over the past thirty years, a lot has been drawn from biographies of well-known people who run these cosmetics companies. As a novel, Rouge is a compilation of characters based on women and men who founded these companies. I often draw from those biographies. I also do an enormous amount of research online. Today vs. 25 years ago, where you had to go to the New York Public Library, it’s a joy to be able to access so many articles and books online. I think it’s really important, when writing a period piece, to understand world events that happened during that time.  It’s hard to set a book in the 1920’s and place your character at a bar, if that’s when prohibition was in effect. So unless you really understand what’s going on in the world, you can’t give an accurate portrayal. One has to do a year-by-year deep dive if you’re writing historical fiction.”

  1. How was the experience of writing ROUGE, a novel, different from your last book, Isn’t That Rich?, which was nonfiction?

“Essays are mostly observational and contemporary, so I was always intrigued by the people I know and some of the ridiculous things that occur in a certain group. Creating fictional characters is actually in many ways more rewarding for me. I believe that when you create strong characters and come up with a great plot line with characters who drive the story, it’s fascinating to bring so much life. It’s the ultimate creative process.”

  1. Tell us about some of the locations where you wrote ROUGE?

“In the acknowledgements at the back of the book, I include places, as well as people. I was inspired from writing in different locations. For example, in the villa in Jamaica where Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels. You can rent out the villa, which includes a manual type-writer, and it’s really inspiring to write in a place like that with such literary significance. It inspired me to write something worthy. Every time I go someplace, it adds to the tapestry of what I’m writing about.”

  1. What’s the last book you read?

Currently reading: Three Men on a Diet: A Very English Approach to Losing Weight by George Courtauld.



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