Viktor and Rolf S/S'11
Apparently, it’s not enough any more just to be a brunette. Yes, that glossy gothy look is still IN. But this season, to be really on-trend, you have to have dark hair and white eyebrows. Yep, the “now brow” is a “no brow” – invisible, barely-there bleached-to-oblivion eyebrows. Why? I’m not sure, but it does look cool, in a glowering, alien kinda way. ‘It just adds a level of modernity to a look’ Grazia’s [Scando-blonde and naturally blonde-browed] Beauty Director Liz Hambleton tells me.
The “no-brow” look was pioneered last year in Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy ads, which showed Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima glaring gothily from beneath bleached eyebrows (above). And at Balenciaga and Prada’s A/W’10 catwalk shows, the models had their eyebrows covered in concealer or bleached out.
Since then, it’s become THE high fashion beauty statement. And the look is still being championed by new designer darling Magdalena/ Magda / Maddie Kulicka the polish model who walked for Celine, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent this season, and has recently been shot by Mert and Marcus.
Alessandra Ambrosio in Numero
And just this month, I opened up a copy of Numero magazine to see Victoria’s Secret hottie Alessandra Ambrosio (who, like Lima, has flirted on and off with erm, on and off eyebrows - maybe that scary no-brow look doesn’t quite work for their lingerie modelling commitments), posing with snowy white brows.
But how easy is it to DIY bleach your own brows? I want to call a fashion professional for advice, but do I want a make-up artist or a hairdresser? *confused*
‘Make-up artists do it on shoots all the time! Wendy Rowe does it and I know Josh Wood always does his clients’ brows.’ Liz tells me.
But which shade to go? Do you dye to match your skin (!) or just go as white as possible, or what?
Marc Jacobs S/S'11
My friend Philippa (a natural brunette who dyes her hair blonde) has also been bleaching her brows for years. ‘It’s really easy’ she tells me breezily ‘you just use Jolene [facial hair bleach] which is safe on your skin, and then if it goes wrong – sometimes the brows go orange – you can just tone them down with that silver shampoo for grey hair’.
As someone who can barely be trusted to use exfoliating scrub, I accept that mastering peroxide is a bit beyond me. Supposing my eyebrows fall out?
Brilliantly, it turns out you CAN get a professional to bleach your brows – a professional hairdresser. I check in to see Clair Thorp at Daniel Hersheson’s salon on Conduit Street, W1. And she’s the perfect woman for the job – having supervised brow-bleaching backstage at the catwalk shows of Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton - in other words, she’s blitzed the facial hair of the world’s top models. I trust her.
‘They won’t fall out’ she reassures me ‘we use a really low-strength peroxide. That’s why you’re better off going to a hairdresser for this; we’re used to dealing with chemicals’. So which shade are we aiming for? I mean, with no other hair to match the shade to? Thorp tells me the look is to get them ‘as white as possible – you don’t want yellow brows’.
She mixes the peroxide and I lie back at the salon’s sinks, with bluey paste just across my brows (how embarrassing). ‘We have to really smoosh it in, so that the bleach gets right down to the roots.’ She warns me my brows will grow out really quickly – ‘you’ll get dark roots coming through and then you’ll want to tint them back’.
She leaves the paste on for 20 minutes. And then another 20, because ‘your brows are really coarse’. Yikes.
And then the moment of truth. And… OH MY GOODNESS!!!
As Clair says ‘it’s not a look for everyone’.
Okay, I knew it would look a bit odd, ‘cos that’s the point, right? Alien-gothy. But I didn’t realise I would look quite so, dramatically…odd.
Erm, well there’s no denying it’s edgy. I mean, I seriously look like back-again 90s supermodel Kristen McMenamy, whose grey hair (and browline) is distinctively evocative of iD covers and out-there fashion shoots.
Clair tries to calm me down as I leave; ‘it’s quite an extreme look, but I think it works ‘cos you’ve got really strong features’ [read: big nose].
On the way back to the office, I expect people in the street to recoil in horror, or point and scream, and for small children to burst into tears. None of this happens, although quite a few people gawp in a way that I can’t deny is gratifying. A group of workmen walk by and wolf whistle. I resist the temptation to hiss ‘can’t you see my eyebrows are missing??’ and instead, start to enjoy my mysterious and odd new look.
Back in the Grazia offices - where, let’s face it, they’ve seen some sights – there is practically a riot when I walk through the door; ‘look at Angela! Look at Angela!’ Phillistines. I bet Adriana Lima doesn’t have to put up with this. Fashion mag we may be, but it seems even here you can go too edgy ‘but WHY would you do that?’ asks one Fashion Editor, suddenly coming over all Mum-like.
Naturellement, the Beauty team love it. Liz points out ‘it's just such a fresh new look, and you can take much harsher make up colours with pale brows’. And she’s right. I usually wear a dark liquid eyeliner, but with my new bright white brows, I find I can I can wear very-now dark shades of plum and red lipstick, balanced with nothing but mascara on my lashes.
I even experiment with painting my brows bright colours. I try fluro pink brows (using crazy-coloured mascara) and I like it. Gosh, this is such a versatile look.
I am, however, much relieved later to brush black mascara over my eyebrows and return to looking a bit more normal. I brag to everyone that I’ve found a genius way to be edgy at the weekends, and (relatively) conventional during the week. This turns out not to be true when post-snogging my new boyfriend I suddenly realise one of my mascara’d eyebrows has rubbed off.
Within only a few days, speckly black roots started to grow through the bleached brows, which looks even freakier.
I actually start to quite like the look; there’s something about it that so distinctively shrieks “high fashion model” that it does make me feel a bit glamorous. It works best worn with head-to-toe in black, or any look that’s sharper and more catwalky.
But the trouble with this look is that it’s SO edgy, and obviously my life isn’t full-on fashion 24/7. Most of my friends couldn’t really understand the white eyebrow look (reactions ranged from ‘WHAT have you done?’ to, brilliantly; 'hmm, what’s different about you…?’) to say nothing of the boyfriend (confession: I never showed him my new bleachy browline – not exactly sexy, is it? Or my Mum. Obvs).
I didn’t have time to go back to the salon so, newly emboldened, I had a go with my DIY eyelash tint kit at home. On the first attempt, my brows went BLUE; a kind of dark steely grey. A second attempt to tint them left them decidedly brunette, although this has eventually faded to an alarmingly bright shade of copper.
Maybe I can pioneer a new “now brow”? In your face, Adriana Lima…
- Angela Buttolph
What do you think of the ‘no brow’ look? Would you? Could you?
And do you have any more suggestions for Style Stunts you’d like our resident Style Stuntwoman to try?