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News » Golden Age of Hollywood is making a comeback on the catwalk

Golden Age of Hollywood is making a comeback on the catwalk

26 October 2008
Every decade has its retro fixation, but it's the Golden Age of Hollywood, in particular the 1940s and 1950s, that has really captured the imaginations during recent years.

For autumn/winter 2007 Valentino's hair and make-up was heavily influenced by Veronica Lake: big voluptuous waves falling down one side of the head and deep ruby lipstick, it was the epitome of old-school glamour. The autumn/winter 2008 shows followed suit. At D Squared the inspiration was 1950s pin-ups, at Roland Mouret, hair and make-up was a modern take on Ava Gardner, and at Roksanda Ilincic the reference point was Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

The make-up artist Alex Box has also studied the Golden Age of Hollywood era closely. For Gareth Pugh's autumn/winter 2008 catwalk she created a look she dubs "Garborg": Greta Garbo high-arched, pencilled brows coupled with bold, coloured lips all executed in a nuclear winter or cyborg-blue tone. "For those old black-and-white films they would paint make-up on in purple and yellow and blue to create different tones of grey. They often had dark blue lips. That's what the Gareth look was about – it was like someone from black and white stepping into colour – RKO's Colorama."

Samantha Hillerby, who created the Marilyn Monroe meets Ava Gardner hair for YSL's Rouge Volupté adverts, asserts that 1940s and 1950s hair, like the make-up, takes a lot more time and effort. "We wanted to achieve that glamour, that richness, that expensiveness that women back then gave off, via painstakingly groomed hair." According to Hillerby, a lot of tools are required to create the look. She lists rollers, heated rollers, old-fashioned scalloped rollers and hot tongs as just a few of the things you might require to create the right look, and cites the return of old-fashioned techniques such as barrel curling and pin curling.

The drawback with sporting a retro aesthetic, is that it's much more labour intensive and high maintenance than merely popping into Topshop or getting a bob cut at Toni & Guy. However, the satisfaction comes from achieving a classic, sophisticated kind of glamour.
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