What was the most memorable thing about Woody Allen's 1979 film 'Manhattan'? The Gershwin soundtrack? That scene where Allen and Diane Keaton get stuck in the rain? Pas du tout. For the superficial cinephile it was all about Mariel Hemingway's fulsome eyebrows. Her knowing ingénue schtick would never have worked without them.
If you look around the spring/summer catwalks, numerous designers have tapped into the combination of simultaneous youth and confidence that strong eyebrows convey. At Burberry, natural looking brows gave the models a carefree look, while the strong lines at Lanvin and Chanel (below) suggested strong women. As with most catwalk beauty trends, however, it's best to interpret the defined brow in a wearable, flattering way – Marni's super heavy lines looked like stick-on moustaches, and veered into Gallagher brothers territory.
Vanita Parti, founder of the eyebrow grooming bar Blink, says that the trend reflects the 1980s looks that have swept the catwalks. However, she points out that then they were left natural, and now the look is to keep one's brows full but groomed. In other words, the wild, owlish look is not to be advised. Some people swear by threading – where hairs are removed with a twirled piece of cotton to shape the brows – but if you are experimenting with it for the first time, do it at least two weeks before an important event. Not only is it eye-wateringly painful, but when I tried it out I ended up with a rash of felt-tip-pen bright spots that made me resemble the "before" in a Clearasil ad.
With a neat outline as a base, one can start the colouring-in. Parti recommends "choosing a pencil one shade up from your natural colour, drawing soft little strokes and then blending them in". Blink or Max Factor both make good pencils. Other options include powder, which is slightly softer. Benefit Brow Zings powder comes in natural colours and if you build up the colour gradually – with the stubby brush provided – there is less risk of looking like Norman Lamont.