Makeup is taking its cues from vivid retro Hollywood

March 30, 1995|By Jill Gerston | Jill Gerston,Special to The Sun

You must remember this: lush red lips, smoky eyes, dark arched brows and a waterfall of wavy hair.

The face of 1940s Hollywood screen goddesses -- Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Veronica Lake -- hover over spring fashion displays like glamorous visions from vintage fan magazines.

After all, what could be better than a retro face to go with the retro clothes -- corsets, satin slips, tight belted suits -- that sashay through designer collections in Europe and New York?

Whether or not modern women will be seized by the urge to paint their lips plum and wear their hair in peekaboo waves remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however: last year's waif look is definitely finis.

The current craze for vivid makeup is a reaction against the ethereal flower child face that the beauty gurus trumpeted last year. Pale skin, eyebrows plucked to nonexistence, eyes shadowed in silver and naked lips smeared with Vaseline looked better on Kate Moss than it did on the rest of us.

"Women didn't relate to the waif face. It made you look pale and tired," said Julie Berman, the spokeswoman for Prescriptives, a sponsor of the New York designer collections. "There's a feeling that it's OK to look pretty and sexy again."

Indeed, the models who paraded down the runways seemed to revel in their glamour-puss look, arching dark-penciled brows with the wily coquetry of Lauren Bacall and running scarlet-tipped fingers through their cascade of waves.

Naomi Campbell wore dark raisin lip gloss and matching nail polish at Anna Sui. Kate Moss looked like a pin-up with rosy cheeks, pin curls and deep red lips at Todd Oldham. Claudia Schiffer, along with all the models at Valentino,wore her hair in a sexy, side-parted fall, held in place by a rhinestone clip.

While the retro Hollywood makeup looked great on the runway, its transition to real life may not be so enticing. It's not every woman who can pull off dark red lips and inky black liner the way Linda Evangelista does. And who has the skill or the time to spend penciling in exaggerated eyebrows and dramatic lips?

"Women are smart enough to figure out what's for real life and what's for Vogue," said makeup artist Bobbi Brown, whose eponymous makeup and skin care line is a top seller in the United States and Europe. "All the exaggerated 'glamour faces' you see in the fashion spreads are more for evening. Day is more about grooming."

Think neatly defined eyebrows. Heather or moss green shadow. Soft pink blush. Glossy raisin lipstick.

In fact, now may be the time to rev up the bland beige and brown makeup that has been hanging around your makeup bag for the last five years and experiment with some pretty new colors.

According to Ms. Berman, the easiest way to achieve a more glamorous look is to use a deeper lipstick, especially a rich berry shade. "Lip gloss has really come back in a big way," she said, adding that the new glosses are not as thick and gooey as the old ones from 20 years ago. (Prescriptives pros suggest after applying your lipstick, dot gloss in the center of the lips to make them look fuller.)

Instead of the exaggerated black eyeliner worn by the models, Ms. Berman suggests smudging the liner into the upper lash line for a soft, smoky look. For brows, she recommends using a pencil to shape sparse ones and powdered shadow for full ones.

She cautions against taking a paint-by-numbers approach to the current "glam face."

"I don't really know many people who can get away with wearing that strong eye makeup or deep purple lips for day," says Ms. Brown, who made up the models for designers Michael Kors, Vera Wang and Cynthia Rowley. "Women know what works for them. Makeup isn't about trends. It's about looking pretty."

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