Angela Bocage

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the beauty theory category.

Where minimalism fears to tread, unless you’re Tilda Swinton: a mascara primer, part I

From the cats’ eyes of the 1950s to the smoky eyes of just last season, sandwiching Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy and Joni, Madonna and Cyndi and Chrissie and Joan, Halle and Angelina, in between, fashion has never yet in my lifetime (and for some time before that personal milestone, smile) championed minimalism where the dark fringe of our eyes is concerned. Only Tilda Swinton is the exception, that lovely androgynous thing: to practice eyelash minimalism, thanks to her, is to follow her, and it’s simply futile. You’re Tilda or you’re not.

Like anything and everything else in fashion’s shimmering barometer of zeitgeistical fluctuations, this could be changing as I write, but it has been oddly consistent for fifty-some years. So for the next few weeks at least, perhaps months or a year, we’ll be emphasizing that penultimate vestige of approved body hair. [Or for even longer, should one live away from the coastlines and practice the wily art of protective coloration.]  I’m going to cut to the chase here; what’s the best way to help our eyelashes carry the burden, be the concentrated microcosm of all the information sent by healthy shiny rich shadowy fur? 

It’s essential to use a fine primer before applying mascara. While many of Shiseido’s products have inspired me to rapturous awe over the years (starting in my twenties, theirs was my first comprehensive skincare system), their mascara primer is not among the pantheon; it’s shockingly useless. Smashbox makes an adequate mascara primer, if used in conjunction with the balance of the system I’m breaking down here, but it’s to Sue Devitt’s that I always return. Devitt, justly revered for the Sari sheer lipcolor that is minimalism at its prettiest, makes the mascara primer product that would simply evaporate on contact when it hit Sephora shelves in the more amusing parts of Manhattan. [Remember, as with any product review here, please don’t hesitate to share with the class if you’ve discovered a splendid alternative.]

Primer is the first key, heat is the second. Even a so-so drugstore mascara will be more effective if you heat the tube under hot tap water until its very warm to the touch before applying. When you do the same with your Sue Devitt lash primer and your Diorshow black mascara, you’ll get an effect so gorgeous you may want to skip eyeliner. To be continued!


Perception and theory

Diana Vreeland’s pronouncements that “any set of features can support beauty” and that the only real elegance is of the mind (“the rest comes from it”) made simple sense to me as an artist. The self-portraits of my fellow art students, always seeming to focus on the lineaments of struggle and wear in their young faces; the absolute charisma of the women around me in the punk and lesbian communities of the late ’70s where of all moments conventional notions of beauty were demolished; and my childhood among Southern women who blazed with beauty even free of makeup, with brutally chopped hair, beaten and scarred, confirmed it with such naturalness. Of course my studies in various media of the faces of those who fascinated me was further evidence–what to debutante DV may have been calculated defense against her mother’s excoriation of young Diana’s “extreme ugliness” was an inherent truth.  

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