These gorgeous illustrations of fairies and other fanciful creatures were featured in magazine ads for Djer-Kiss (pronounced “dear kiss”) — a line of French cosmetics marketed extensively in the United States during the first part of the 20th century.

While we can’t say much about the quality of the product itself, we were so charmed by the imaginative fairy illustrations that served as the backdrop to the various perfumes, powders, creams and makeup that we just had to share. To let the beauty of the art shine through, we have edited the original ads to remove the text and branding, leaving just the various fanciful fairylands.

To accompany the images, you will also find the last few pages of “Eva’s Visit to Fairy Land,” a short story written by Louisa May Alcott, who is best known today as the author of “Little Women.” Alcott’s story was published in the early ’20s — around the same time that these Djer-Kiss ads appeared.

Vintage fairy illustrations from the 1920s (8)

Eva’s Visit to Fairy Land

By Louisa May Alcott

All Fairy-Land was dressed in flowers, and the soft wind went singing by, laden with their fragrant breath. Sweet music sounded through the air, and troops of Elves in their gayest robes hastened to the palace where the feast was spread.

Soon the bright hall was filled with smiling faces and fair forms, and little Eva, as she stood beside the Queen, thought she had never seen a sight so lovely.

The many-colored shadows of the fairest flowers played on the pure white walls, and fountains sparkled in the sunlight, making music as the cool waves rose and fell, while to and fro, with waving wings and joyous voices, went the smiling Elves, bearing fruit and honey, or fragrant garlands for each other’s hair.

Long they feasted, gayly they sang, and Eva, dancing merrily among them, longed to be an Elf that she might dwell forever in so fair a home.

Guiding the girl home

At length, the music ceased, and the Queen said, as she laid her hand on little Eva’s shining hair:

“Dear child, tomorrow we must bear you home, for, much as we long to keep you, it was wrong to bring such sorrow to your loving earthly friends; therefore we will guide you to the brook-side, and there say farewell till you come again to visit us.

“Nay, do not weep, dear Rose-Leaf; you shall watch over little Eva’s flowers, and when she looks at them she will think of you. Come now and lead her to the Fairy garden, and show her what we think our fairest sight. Weep no more, but strive to make her last hours with us happy as you can.”

With gentle caresses and most tender words, the loving Elves gathered about the child, and, with Rose-Leaf by her side, they led her through the palace, and along green, winding paths, till Eva saw what seemed a wall of flowers rising before her, while the air was filled with the most fragrant odors, and the low, sweet music as of singing blossoms.

“Where have you brought me, and what mean these lovely sounds?” asked Eva.

“Look here, and you shall see,” said Rose-Leaf, as she bent aside the vines, “but listen silently or you cannot hear.”

Then Eva, looking through the drooping vines, beheld a garden filled with the loveliest flowers; fair as were all the blossoms she had seen in Fairy-Land, none were so beautiful as these. The rose glowed with a deeper crimson, the lily’s soft leaves were more purely white, the crocus and humble cowslip shone like sunlight, and the violet was blue as the sky that smiled above it.

“How beautiful they are,” whispered Eva, “but, dear Rose-Leaf, why do you keep them here, and why call you this your fairest sight?”

“Look again, and I will tell you,” answered the Fairy.

The spirits of the flowers

Eva looked, and saw from every flower a tiny form come forth to welcome the Elves, who all, save Rose-Leaf, had flown above the wall, and were now scattering dew upon the flowers’ bright leaves and talking gayly with the Spirits, who gathered around them, and seemed full of joy that they had come.

The child saw that each one wore the colors of the flower that was its home.

ALSO SEE: Bellingrath Gardens: Colorful remembrance of times past (1967)

Delicate and graceful were the little forms, bright the silken hair that fell about each lovely face; and Eva heard the low, sweet murmur of their silvery voices and the rustle of their wings. She gazed in silent wonder, forgetting she knew not who they were, till the Fairy said,

“These are the spirits of the flowers, and this the Fairy Home where those whose hearts were pure and loving on the earth come to bloom in fadeless beauty here, when their earthly life is past. The humblest flower that blooms has a home with us, for outward beauty is a worthless thing if all be not fair and sweet within.

 

“Do you see yonder lovely spirit singing with my sister Moonlight? A clover blossom was her home, and she dwelt unknown, unloved; yet patient and content, bearing cheerfully the sorrows sent her. We watched and saw how fair and sweet the humble flower grew, and then gladly bore her here, to blossom with the lily and the rose.

“The flowers’ lives are often short, for cruel hands destroy them; therefore is it our greatest joy to bring them hither, where no careless foot or wintry wind can harm them, where they bloom in quiet beauty, repaying our care by their love and sweetest perfumes.”

 

“I will never break another flower,” cried Eva; “but let me go to them, dear Fairy; I would gladly know the lovely spirits, and ask forgiveness for the sorrow I have caused. May I not go in?”

“Nay, dear Eva, you are a mortal child, and cannot enter here; but I will tell them of the kind little maiden who has learned to love them, and they will remember you when you are gone. Come now, for you have seen enough, and we must be away.”

A fairy gift

On a rosy morning cloud, surrounded by the loving Elves, went Eva through the sunny sky. The fresh wind bore them gently on, and soon they stood again beside the brook, whose waves danced brightly as if to welcome them.

MORE: New Year’s flower gift meanings (1897)

“Now, ere we say farewell,” said the Queen, as they gathered nearer to the child, “tell me, dear Eva, what among all our Fairy gifts will make you happiest, and it shall be yours.”

“You good little Fairies,” said Eva, folding them in her arms, for she was no longer the tiny child she had been in Fairy-Land, “you dear good little Elves, what can I ask of you, who have done so much to make me happy, and taught me so many good and gentle lessons, the memory of which will never pass away?

“I can only ask of you the power to be as pure and gentle as yourselves, as tender and loving to the weak and sorrowing, as untiring in kindly deeds to all. Grant me this gift, and you shall see that little Eva has not forgotten what you have taught her.”

“The power shall be yours,” said the Elves, and laid their soft hands on her head; we will watch over you in dreams, and when you would have tidings of us, ask the flowers in your garden, and they will tell you all you would know. Farewell. Remember Fairy-Land and all your loving friends.”

They clung about her tenderly, and little Rose-Leaf placed a flower crown on her head, whispering softly, “When you would come to us again, stand by the brook-side and wave this in the air, and we will gladly take you to our home again. Farewell, dear Eva. Think of your little Rose-Leaf when among the flowers.”

Long Eva watched their shining wings, and listened to the music of their voices as they flew singing home, and when at length the last little form had vanished among the clouds, she saw that all around her where the Elves had been, the fairest flowers had sprung up, and the lonely brookside was a blooming garden.

Thus she stood among the waving blossoms, with the Fairy garland in her hair, and happy feelings in her heart, better and wiser for her visit to Fairy-Land.

MORE: Louisa May Alcott: The woman who wrote “Little Women” (1922)


A look at some of the Djer-Kiss cosmetics

Djer-Kiss cosmetics - catalog page


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Filed under: 1920s, Beauty & fashion, Drawings & illustrations, Magazines, Vintage advertisements

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