Sunday, 16 September 2012

Black Vintage Beauty

Alek Wek, ID Magazine 2009
I read this thoughtful article in Stylist on the tube to work earlier in the year. Make-up and identity. The depiction of race and beauty. Never seeing people who look like you on TV, or magazines and never feeling pretty.

I could relate to the evolution of black makeup. In my early teens I had a makeover at Clinique (which I think were the first major high street brand to stock black foundation). The assistant insisted on making me up in what she claimed was Naomi Campbell's signature style with lips that looked like off-white tipex. I also won a gaudy set of pink eye shadows, blushers and lipsticks from one of the specialist black makeup brands that simply looked awful. 

Not that it bothered me too much.   We were the only black family in a little village in Essex. I genuinely thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world for great swathes of my childhood. [I am biased but she's still quite a fox now that she's in her sixties - but that's an aside].  In my teens I didn't want to look the same as anyone else. I thought it would look cool if I put eyeliner on before I went to bed so it would be messy in the morning - I ended up with an eye infection. I owned black and blue lipsticks and considered Beatrice Dalle and Robert Smith style icons. 

Its fair to say that I don't wear much make up day to day now but I've migrated to MAC and bare minerals when I do want to look a bit more polished. So what to do about wedding make up and hair?

As I've mentioned before I love old Hollywood glamour and the wedding blogs are full of elegant glamorous brides with vintagey vibes. However there are very few black women amongst them. I want to see colours against different skin tones and to find out if my hair can really hold those shapes. I want to see whether a makeup artist is experienced at styling people that look like me before I book an expensive trial... Hmmmm... The lovely Annabel from Love My Dress explained the reason that there aren't many black brides on wedding blogs is because typically there aren't many submissions from black brides. I'd never thought of that - although I should add that she's definitely keen to recieve more submissions.

I had my makeup trial yesterday with Amanda (recommended by Annabel by the way)who impressively gave me exactly the soft vintage inspired look I was after and was very calm and patient.  Once you start to look there are lots of amazing images of impossibly beautiful early 20th century black glamour. Actresses, singers, models, cotton club dancers, pinup girls, Motown girl groups.  Modern vintage interpretations too - look at the images of Alek, Joan and Naomi.  There's a whole world of sources to search through but some of my favourite sites and images are below.  Enjoy.

Black Vintage Glamour: One of the most comprehensive sites, often with interesting social commentary. 
Natural Belle: Fantastic tumblr site of the English fashion and beauty blogger with an extensive catalogue of images - lots of contemporary images and a fetish for Solange Knowles in particular.
Le Pinup Noir: Pintrest and styling tutorials from 1950's style pin up model Angelique 
Black Heritage and Waheedpix:Flicker site with hundreds of images of ordinary black Americans.  I like this as I'm actually quite interested in images of "real" people and the stories underneath them. There are amazing pictures of my mum (not to mention my dad, great uncle and aunt) from the 1960's looking incredibly sharp.
Veiled Haven: Nice overview of style icons up to the 1950s.   

Madeline "Sahji" Jackson

Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothea Church

Aretha Franklin
Shingai Shoniwa

Dorothy Cox
The Ronettes
Naomie Harris

Joan Smalls
Joan Smalls (again)



No comments:

Post a Comment