Full yet effortlessly groomed eyebrows perched above large doe eyes dominated Audrey Hepburn’s signature look. It wasn’t just her symmetrical beauty and deep heron eyes that her eloquently arched brows represented; it was her strong presence in a post-war world of class mobility and a burgeoning popular youth culture, where she was she was able to represent modernity and emancipation, whilst still remaining respectably ‘lady like’ and relatable.
From the golden age of silent films through to the 1930s, the biggest stars, from Marlene Dietrich to Carole Lombard and Greta Garbo, were never without a pair of finely stencilled arches which rested well above the natural brow bone. These dark, super-slick brows were a must for silver screen sirens, and the more pronounced the brow, the more prominent the emotion on film. In some aspects, the full brow was a subtle sign that men remained the dominant force in society and was therefore viewed as a rebellion for post war women, previous bound by the austerity of the war.
Androgyny during the 60s was revolutionary. Brows only grew stronger, becoming a much more prominent feature which was sported by ‘it girl’ of the time, Brook Shields. Fast forward almost two decades later to Wall Street and women still found bold, angular, furrowed brows favourable; perfectly complimenting power suits with oversized, statement shoulders. This of course became a reflection of the insatiability and egotism of said era.
By the mid-to-late-Eighties, the style of supermodels Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford was a world apart from that of 60s icon Twiggy. Women were the epitome of picturesque, envied for their physical prowess; their luscious arches only intensified their assets. This trend was not to be fully appreciated until a decade later when the power brow found its replacement. The once voluptuous arcs now resound to scarce, almost absent wisps. A new supermodel had arrived, with a new look to redefine style and naturally eyebrows.
This raises the question of what full brows currently symbolise. They have been an indicator of strength, resoluteness and empowerment and as they stand proud at the forefront once again, with Cara Delevingne leading the trend, it is evident that brows are indicators of a woman’s state of mind and her place in society. Women have come a long way from the Golden era of film where they experienced growing control over their careers, but were still dominated by male presence. Jean Harlow famously said; “No one ever expects a great lay to pay all the bills”, proving that despite her fame she still relied greatly on her male counterparts.
Today women stand at the threshold of an ever growing feminine era, one that seems perpetually open to opinion and growth, much like the ever changing brow. Ironically it is the trend that remains constant throughout its inconsistency, but one truth is unfailing; if the eyes are the windows to the soul, then eyebrows are the draperies; subsequently exposing the way in which beauty has shaped societal matters throughout history.