If you're a redhead, you'll probably know that there is a secret unspoken Redhead Club. That is, the knowing looks you reserve for other ginger-tinted cohorts that include shared childhoods spent doused in sunscreen, using lemon juice to erase those freckles, being teased with all sorts of ungodly nicknames and enviously watching all those brown berries at the beach while you glow with your milky white skin. And that includes the auburn redheads like me.
However, I think we also share a special affinity with the hue and a slightly smug knowledge that we're in the minority and somehow a bit special? (maybe that's the natural defense for all that teasing). Anyhow, I've long loved the iconic redhead image on the box of Redheads matches, but it wasn't until I spied a vintage sign in the ultra-cool home of my friends Mellissa (a fabulous redhead) and Geordie that I thought I should check out more about a much loved Australian design icon.
It turns out that Redheads are this year celebrating 60 years of fire-lighting domination in Australian homes. Originally manufactured in Richmond, Victoria by Bryant and May, the matches are now manufactured in Sweden by Swedish Match. The matches have had four design iterations featuring "Miss Redhead", starting in 1946. The 1971 version (bottom left) was created by Brian Sadgrove and then updated in 1975 to cleverly match the hair colour with the matchbox, therefore bypassing any hairstyle fashion trend issues.
"Miss Redhead" today is an Australian cultural icon and the subject of hundreds of caricatures and makeovers in annual contests sponsored by Redheads. Winning entries are featured on collectors' series and commemorative theme matchboxes.
You can find out more about Redheads and other Australian design icons in the book Symbols of Australia by Mimmo Cozzolino and Fysh Rutherford. And I'll be glowing with the fact that our iconic Australian lady sports flame-hued locks.
Images: top - Steph Bond; middle and bottom - Redheads