Face Paint: The Story Of Makeup, By Lisa Eldridge
So, you may have noticed, I’m a little infatuated with the world of makeup and cosmetics. In another life I was an art student, studying Fashion and Textile Design, and like most budding designers, this was my entry into Retail. The job that would feed me, put a roof over my head and get me through until I was rich and famous. Except that I found ‘Fashion People’ absolutely intolerable, and had far more patience for indecisive customers (Yes, even for Mrs. S). So I stayed in Retail, ‘until I work out what I really want to do with my life.’ And here I still am, in one way or another: in Retail, and working out what I really want to do with my life…
I miss the days where my sole goal was to be creative and so my necessity for design has found outlets in my everyday life. The eternal search for exciting, new, and wonderfully designed makeup. The ritual of skincare, literally like preparing canvas to receive paint, and more recently designing this website. I have also taken, in my own compulsively consumeristic way, to collecting a vast array of related books, and then pouring over YouTube – not just satisfied with looking at the products but needing to see them at work and in motion.
So when Lisa Eldridge announced she was about to publish a book, it was already a done deal. As an unashamed Lisa Eldridge fangirl and lover of makeup, art, history and design, I needed to have it. I didn’t care I was buying it sight unseen. I joined the Amazon pre-order list and managed to be one of the lucky ones to get mine delivered in the first release. I believe it has now had 4 print runs to keep up with demand!
That means Face Paint: The Story Of Makeup has been in my possession for 2 months which means its also taken me that long to edit the video… Yep. I’m new to this. But, I have been distracted by a rather nice new coffee table book about the history of makeup, so, theres THAT…
Now, you need to understand, this is not a makeup How-To book. Clearly no one would leave the house with paper blush like the picture above. If a makeup tutorial is what you are after, head to Lisa’s YouTube channel or one of the many other ways you can garner Lisa’s expertise online. Face Paint: The Story Of Makeup is essentially a fashion history book. And it delves deep. Really deep.
Not one to dismiss makeup as ‘pure female frippery’ just like another female author I love, Lisa tracks the use of cosmetics over the ages: from reinforcing tribal identity to enhancing beauty imperceptibly to celebrating and proclaiming our individuality. Face Paint delves into the anthropology, the psychology, the chemistry and the artistry behind makeup leaving no stone unturned in an effort to understand why we wear cosmetics. And its so damn interesting!
‘The natural world provided everything needed for the ancient makeup bag. Ingredients like chalk, manganese dioxide, carbon, lapis lazuli, copper ore, and red and yellow ochre were used to adorn and embellish in every corner of the globe – from the Aboriginals and tribes of Papua New Guinea to the earliest civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt – suggesting that painting out faces is as much a part of human nature as the need to eat and sleep.’
Red, White, Black… The universal colours of face paint found in all cultures from ancient times until the present. Each one explored, given life and a timeline through history with gorgeous glossy images to support, and distract.
Did I mention Vintage Makeup Compacts? Oodles and oodles of vintage makeup porn in explicit detail for your lusty eyes. Pictured on the left are examples from Lisa’s vintage makeup collection: ‘The 1940s and 1950s were the golden age of the novelty powder compact (Clockwise) Wadworth’s 8 Ball, Volupte’s “Gay Nineties Mitt,” Kigu’s Flying Saucer, Telephone Rotary after Salvador Dali for Schiaparelli, and BOAC Mascot Suitcase powder compact.’ The pictures are so crisp and detailed they look as real as my own more modern treasures shown on the right: Charlotte Tilbury x Norman Parkinson, Yves Saint Laurent City Drive Palette, Chanel Les Beiges and lip glosses from Korean brand Tony Moly. Its so strange how fashions change, and yet remain exactly the same!
The overriding theme of Face Paint, is that the history of makeup is the history of women. The acceptability of makeup equalling the level of freedom and choice they have or haven’t had over the centuries. Lisa sums it up beautifully as she signs off:
‘ Ultimately, nothing empowers a woman more than the right to a good education, and the freedom to choose whether to wear a red lip and a smokey eye… or not.’
If you’re a History Buff, Makeup Addict, Art + Design Maven, Fashionista or even a Feminist you want this book in your life and on your coffee table. And if you’re the type that isn’t much into reading, thats ok, just look at those pictures!
I bought mine from Amazon. At the time it was $17US, but the prices on Amazon fluctuate literally daily. Its currently $20US. It’s RRP is $29.95 US, so regardless, you’re getting something beautiful for a bargain.
So tell me, did you splurge and buy it sight unseen like me? Or are you still dithering? Or, now you’ve had a virtual flip through, are you considering a little Christmas present to self…?
Did anyone notice the crazy history of glitter? Or were you too distracted by the pretty pictures?