Scrunchie creator, dead at 78, secured hair and a lasting legacy

Satin scrunchies.
Photo credit Getty Images.

Since Rommy Hunt Revson’s fabric hair ties hit the market in the 1980s, “scrunchie” has been a household term. Although Revson died Sept. 7 in Minnesota, her creation lives on.

“She was a genius who came up with an invention that really changed how women dress,” journalist Sara Radin, a self-proclaimed scrunchie historian, told NPR.

Fans of the scrunchie have included Madonna, Janet Jackson, U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, model Hailey Bieber and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Her character Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City” would even go on to have a fight about scrunchies with a boyfriend.

 Hailey Bieber attends Alexander Wang & Bvlgari Celebrate A.W. BVLGARI'S 712 Fifth Avenue on September 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
Hailey Bieber attends Alexander Wang & Bvlgari Celebrate A.W. BVLGARI'S 712 Fifth Avenue on September 07, 2019 in New York City. Photo credit (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in a discussion at the Georgetown University Law Center on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in a discussion at the Georgetown University Law Center on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo credit (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Revson was born Rommy Kolb on Feb. 15, 1944, in White Plains, N.Y., to William, a contractor and Rose, a homemaker, according to The New York Times. She worked in retail at stores such as Lord & Taylor in Manhattan in the 1960s before becoming a singer, songwriter and voice teacher in the in the 1970s and early ’80s.

Critic John S. Wilson of The New York Times wrote, “as a singer, she has range, control and a fine sense of shading,” when she made her 1979 debut, according to The Times, “and as a performer, she projects strongly and on a variety of levels.”

Revson married four times and each ended in divorce. In the aftermath of a divorce from Revlon heir John Revson, she rented a house in Southampton, N.Y., where she would invent the scrunchie.

It was 1986, according to The Palm Beach Post, near her West Plam Beach-area home. She was stressed, and she wanted a band to hold a ponytail without damaging hair. Revson told the “Every Little Thing” podcast that she was actually inspired by the elastic waist of her sweatpants.

“And I said, you know what? That pucker-y waist, I’m going to try to mimic that for my hair,” she said.

So, Revson bought a used sewing machine and taught herself how to sew. She created a fabric covered elastic hairband prototype called the scunci (pronounced SKOON-chee), after her dog. Next, she got a design patent and a license.

According to the Times, some accounts claim a man named Philips Meyers came up with a similar product in 1963. However, Revson’s was the one that caught on.

“Copycat manufacturers flooded the market with what came to be called scrunchies,” said The New York Times. Revson sued retailers selling the copycats and received millions, though she was later sued for legal fees.

“She was a talented but unyielding person who had a good heart,” said Judd Burstein, the lawyer who represented her.

Charles Brower, Revson’s cousin, said she was being treated for Cushing’s disease and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., when she died this month. Her estate lawyer, Alan Rothfeld, said the cause of death was a ruptured ascending aorta, The Times reported.

She is survived by a son, Nathaniel Hunt.