I love make-up. I love red lipstick and how glamorous and bad-ass it makes me feel when I wear it, I love eyeliner, and highlighter and shimmering shadows. I therefore thoroughly enjoy watching make-up artists creative tutorials on youtube, and Lisa Eldridge, make-up artist for the likes of Gucci, VOGUE, and celebrities like Kiera Knightley and Kate Winslet, is the classiest of them all. Her channel and blog are full of inspiration for novices and experts alike. She does modern looks as well as period looks, and she collects vintage make-up. I was therefore very excited to hear that she was releasing a book on the history of make-up, from ancient times to present day, and pre-ordered it in October.
The book itself is a really lovely object, the dust-cover and hard-cover both contain the same image of a woman’s face covered in loose pigments, and inside there are more stunning full-page images, from 18th century portraits to photographs of Twiggy and Theda Bara. There are also photographs of vintage make-up, the packaging for which is sublime, and adverts for the brands and products that changed the way we look at ourselves in the mirror are scattered throughout.
The book is split into two sections, ‘The Ancient Palette’, and ‘The Business of Beauty’. The first section explores the use of make-up from across the ancient world, focussing on three key colours, red, white and black. It provides fascinating insights into the origins of the make-up we know today, and reveals that we have had a very long relationship with painting our faces. Section two delves into the histories of the first make-up brands and the pioneers behind them. This was particularly interesting, as there was so much dramatic cloak-and-dagger corporate espionage. Rivalries between brands were personal, and image was everything. A section on the modern technology which gives us our soft glowing highlighters and wet-look metallic creams closes the book. Interspersed throughout with Eldridge’s ‘Makeup Muses’, women whose influential ‘looks’, particularly inspire her. Her research into the products and techniques used by women such as Marlene Dietrich are wonderful, these stories tell you a great deal about the women themselves, and also about the transformative power of make-up.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone with an interest in make-up or fashion, I have found it to be a really enjoyable and informative read, and it makes a lovely addition to my bookshelf.