Ready to Wear: Just as nature intended – the return of the bushy eyebrow

Big is beautiful. And, no, this is not some sort of tokenistic comment on the great size zero debate, pending the run-up to the next round of shows.

Instead, the only thing bigger than usual about any models who made their way down the autumn/winter catwalks, six months ago now, were their eyebrows. And, yes, this is Part Three of the Ready To Wear hair special.

At Roberto Cavalli, dark, smoky eyes were framed with equally moody, even beetling, brows. At Chloé, eyebrows blonde and dark were equally defined, either natural for those well-endowed in the brow department, or with artificial stragglers applied – truly, it's miraculous what can be achieved by an expert hand. At John Galliano a feathery mono-brow was the order of the day, topped off with silver sparkle and achieving an effect not unlike a mountain peak, snowy no matter the season. Brows were also big and proud at Hermes, Loewe, Miu Miu and Prada, where elaborate chignons only added to the power of the look. At Balenciaga, meanwhile, big eyebrows were more notable still for the fact that they were brightest blue. Yes, even given such stiff (and bushy) competition, these were indisputably the eyebrows of the season.

If fashion's current mood is remarkable for the strength and dignity of the clothes, then eyebrows are strong and dignified to match. Pluck brows to the point they're barely there and an ethereal and somewhat alien appearance is the result. Leave them as nature intended, however, or even enhanced, and a rather more earthly feminine ideal emerges.

Big eyebrow heroines past and present: Ali MacGraw in Love Story, Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby, Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan and, more recently, Keira Knightley in, well, in anything. Frida Kahlo was, of course the queen of the eyebrow. Her uncompromising self-portraits are as memorable for their exaggerated mono-brow as for any more obviously visceral concerns. Finally, compare and contrast two Elizabeths – Tudor and Taylor. Both have the same initials, strangely, although it's safe to assume that any similarity ends there. The Virgin Queen, famously, had no eyebrows. The violet-eyed Miss Taylor, meanwhile, boasted quite the most desirable and lustrous big black brows the world has ever seen.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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