Because Edwardian actresses were literally #goals.
I love makeup, and I love History. The two make a good pair, as the history of makeup through the ages is so complex, interesting and enlightening. What would an 18th century duchess think of our heavy highlighters and matte lips? And how would we feel if we saw ourselves with powdered hair and mouches stuck on our face? Beauty has changed a lot over time, and in today's post I want to pay honour to one of my favourite time period in terms of beauty and fashion: the Edwardian Era.
The Edwardian Era starts at Queen Victoria's death, in 1901, and lasts until 1914 and World War One. Political and social matters aside, one of the main aspects we think about straight away when it comes to the Edwardian Era is its representation of women. Thin hourglass figures, large hats (with feathers for the most extravagant ones), tea gowns covered in intricate lace and ruffles, natural makeup. The ideals of beauty at the time are represented on postcards and photographs, where beautiful, young actresses posed, sometimes dressing up, sometimes showcasing fashionable outfits. I adore these photographs. My favourites are the pictures of Lily Elsie, a British stage actress who was known during her time for her beauty, and who was one of the most photographed women of the era. See the photos below and you'll understand why!
Isn't she absolute goals? Hairstyle, face, clothes, attitude. I'd take her over Kylie Jenner as a beauty inspiration anytime!
To celebrate this ideal of beauty, I have decided to recreate this type of 1900s photograph, with a makeup look appropriate for the time period. Bear in mind that makeup was still not common on a day-to-day basis for women, seeing as natural beauty was the regular standard. Makeup was worn by actresses though, so this is the type of look I decided to go for.
I took inspiration from one particular photograph of Lily Elsie, and a couple of close-up makeup looks from other actresses, to create my makeup and hair. Here is my main inspiration:
And here is what I came up with:
The unique grain of old photographs is really hard to get when you use an online photo editor. Let me tell you I've spent hours trying to get the best, most realistic finish but it's still not exactly right unfortunately. Nevertheless, here is how I interpreted the classic 1900s actress makeup look:
A CLEAR AND BRIGHT COMPLEXION
As you can see in the photos, Lily Elsie has a clear, porcelain skin. I did use foundation, but it is very light and natural, I skipped concealer in order to keep everything as sheer as possible.
I then added a very light coat of mascara, to curl my lashes a little. I didn't use any eye shadow on my lids, but I did apply a slight touch of black eye shadow on my brow bones, to give them definition and emphasise the crease on the sepia photos, which is a common feature in the photographs I took inspiration from.
foundation: Charlotte Tilbury, Magic Foundation
mascara: Benefit, Roller Lash
eye shadow: Urban Decay, Naked Palette 1 in the shadow "Creep"
ROSY CHEEKS AND ROSY LIPS
In these photos Lily Elsie doesn't seem to be wearing blusher, however I added a touch of pink to my cheeks to give that natural flush: I used the same lipstick as I used on my lips, just on the apples of my cheeks.
On my lips I used a hot pink shade by Chanel, which has a slight glossy finish but still good pigmentation. In some photos, actresses are seen with rather dark lipsticks, and in some others they seem to have a natural lip. Without colorised pictures, it is difficult to determine the shades they could be wearing, but I figured a simple pink shade would do. For this I took inspiration from colorised postcards from that era, where women's lips were sometimes colorised with pink.
lips & cheeks: Chanel, Rouge Allure lipstick in shade 165 Éblouissante
On photographs from that era, you see a variety of hairstyles: updos, hats, curls, hair down, flowers, tiaras... Because I have thin hair, I decided to go for an updo as it's difficult for me to get a lot of volume for bigger hairstyles. Updos were the most common hairstyles in everyday life, and women wore hats when they went out and often use head pieces or jewellery for dinner attire.
Again inspired by the picture of Lily Elsie, I used a hairband with a bow to mimic her photograph. We'll agree that her hair looks ten times as lush and stylish than mine, but to my defence she must have had someone to pamper her and do her hair like all stars do on photoshoots today. Also, this was the last series I took before cutting my hair, so the last time for a while that I'd be able to create such a big, puffy updo...
As for my top, I am wearing a lace high-neck blouse from H&M. These lace blouses have been really popular recently, under the "victoriana trend" - which clearly is an anachronism, as these originally date from the Edwardian era, right after Queen Victoria's death. And if I was a tough self-critique, I would say that my collar should be a little higher on the neck. I'm planning on getting a real (and wearable) Edwardian blouse at some point, to fulfill my Edwardian fashion cravings haha.
So this is my take on the classic Edwardian actress look. I had a lot of fun recreating it, and I'm really considering doing another one of these soon. But which era to tackle? I love the 1940s and 1950s too, so that might be next on the list.
What do you think about Edwardian styles? Are you interested in the History of fashion?