You already knew that hemlines and the stock market were related, but what about lips & the tales they tell about the times? According to trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, the lips, body and timeframe are all similarly influenced by whatever body part is popular at the time, who the celebs du jour happen to be and probably most importantly, the condition of the economy and size of people's bank accounts.
The 20's - Prohibition & Rebellion Taking their cue from the deliciously scandalous flappers, women declared a newfound independence by bobbing their locks, going out dancing & drinking illicitly distilled whiskey. Movies starring Theda Bara and her "vamp's lips", the sexy bee-stung kisser of Mae Murray (above) and iconic "cupid's bow" associated with Clara Bow showcased a matte, heart-shaped mouth - feminine, yes, but daring. Edelkoort notes that because the focal body part of the time period was the legs, “breasts were smallish, and girls boyish.” Eyes were large and lips thin. Lip colors were black and garnet red.
The 30's - Economic Depression Having lived through a financial meltdown and the Great Depression, women became thrifty and austere. The icons of the day - most notably Greta Garbo & Marlene Dietrich - were steely, glamorous and somewhat androgenous, the personification of the adult woman unafraid to determine her own fate. Lips were coated in a glossy reddish brown painted on with square edges, emphasizing the stern, perfectionist appearance of that sober period.
The 40's - Wartime With the men away at war, women filled in. Along with their new roles, they acquired a newfound sense of identity and responsibility. The idea that women were capable of doing a "man's job" was immortalized on the silver screen by Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn and other Hollywood heroines. Luscious full lips - symmetrical, curvy & colored with a high-gloss vermillion - symbolized strength, disguised sorrow and helped cheer a girl up when wartime privations sent morale flagging.
The 50's - Post-War Period Audrey or Marilyn? These two icons of the day revealed an ambivalence amongst women. On one hand, during the war women had begun to realize they no longer need be pigeonholed into traditional roles however, they also enjoyed once again embracing their feminity and sexuality. Edelkoort explains that in this period of rebuilding an entire economy, the focus was on the proportions of the overall body, the face just one element in the whole. Lips were bright red or pink in a voluptuous shape that extended beyond the natural lip line.
The 60's - Flower Power & Protests The anti-war movement, outer space exploration, Woodstock, the sexual revolution. The youthful, anorexic chic of Twiggy and provocative pout of Brigitte Bardot signalled a rebellious rejection of the conventional - from beauty, to prosperity to consumption. Women applied their lipstick discreetly, in shimmery beige-tone shades like mother-of-pear, pink & silvery white - their lips soft and full. Edelkoort attributes this to a sudden shift in sexuality, noting that the most focused-upon body parts were the breasts and butt.
The 70's - Disco Dancin' Soulful divas and disco queens Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross defined a decade during which women broke social convention and explored the boudaries of single motherhood, fighting for their social and political rights and claiming their sexuality. Especially with their lips, outlined and shiny in self-confident colors such as glittery crimson and burgundy-red.
The 80's - Emancipation Punk rock crossed over from music into the culture, translating into a provocative anti-beauty statement with strong eyes and a dark, wide mouth - sometimes black and with metallic effects - and on both genders. The transvetite chic of Boy George and provocative designs of Vivienne Westwood coveyed a sense of "tribal" identity conveyed by music videos like Madonna's "Vogue" and "Don't You Want Me Baby?" by Human League.
The 90's - Individualism Viva la $10,000/day Supermodel! Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista influenced women's idea of beauty, in particular, a clearly outlined mouth painted in natural shades of brown, either shining or matte and dark or light, documenting the grunge-turned-pop look of the 90's. Internet, cell phones, Pearl Jam and plaid, piercings, tattoos, hip hop, and the fitness wave set the tone for this decade socially and commercially. Everything was "allowed", and fashion trends began to change with lightning speed.
2000 - The New Millennium So much upheaval in decades prior made people nostalgic for a return to family values & good friends, manifesting as "cocooning". This longing for intrinsic value was driven by a declining economic climate and new appreciation for bare essentials. To balance their newfound quest for balance against the eternal desire to feel beautiful, women embraced their natural lip shape and gravitated to soft, warm pastels and "non" shades of shimmery beige, pink & apricot.
The Decades Ahead Edelkoort is predicting that our current eco-aware mentality and desire to live a slower, more sustainable way of life will be reflected in lips that are a whiteish beige. "Thinner lips will take us into the 2020's," she adds. "Eventually, perfect red lips with harmonized proportions between the eyes, lips, and body will balance our beauty in the new era of post-recession and reconstruction."
- Lesley Scott
CREDITS: source of Li Edelkoort interview, text materials & lip illustrations - beautypress.com; images - 1920s (Mae Murray); 1930s (Marlene Dietrich); 1940s (Joan Crawford); 1950s (Marilyn Monroe); 1960s (Bardot); 1970s (Diana Ross); 1980s (Boy George); 1990s (Linda Evangelista); 00s (Madonna); photo at top with "bug-eye" glasses & at bottom (all-white clad figure) - both via MacCosmetics.com
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