They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but an awful lot can be told about a woman by a quick glance at the eyebrows that frame them, too. Some women are intrinsically irritating, especially as far as other women are concerned, but have the most enviable eyebrows imaginable. Keira Knightley, stand up and be counted. Ditto Natalie Portman (below) - even when she was bald. Others are so inseparable from their eyebrows that the mere mention of that particular feature brings their entire face to mind. The image of Frida Kahlo, for example, is as identifiable for the legendary monobrow as any other distinguishing marks.

All the aforementioned have in common eyebrows that beetle conspicuously across their foreheads. So did Madonna, circa Desperately Seeking Susan, at her most confrontational and proud (more recently, she has plucked them into more well-mannered obscurity). This type of eyebrow is not only full of character, it is also rather fashionable just now.

Of course, fashionable eyebrows - like fashionable hair colour or fragrance - is not a concept that everyone is prepared to embrace. Those of us old enough to remember the Seventies penchant for removing all but the finest arch of eyebrow will know that overplucking - however much it might be suggestive of divas from Marlene Dietrich to Greta Garbo - is not to be recommended. Any make-up artist worth his or her credentials will wax lyrical over the way to identify just the right width between eyebrows, say, but most will also advise that brushing is more important than tweezing, particularly over-tweezing which has potentially disastrous results.

Thankfully, then, for the time being at least, plucking is neither sensible nor modish, apart from in the form of the slightest tidy-up.

A quick glance at the eyebrows that came down the international catwalks for this season confirms the fact that, now more than ever, bushy is best. At Chanel, eyebrows were positively huge and dark, however blond the model in question might be, while the rest of the face was left nude. At Chloe, too, eyebrows were emphasised and made to seem all the more owl-like by just a touch of a dark shadow painted around doe eyes. Ann Demeulemeester's quintessentially moody heroines are never likely to have anything but brooding brows. At Dior, the natural brow was painted out, and a thick strip of preternaturally arched tape was placed just above it.

In real, as opposed to fashion life, the brow of the moment is less manicured than that. Think Mariel Hemingway in Woody Allen's Manhattan, rather than Joan Crawford. It is, above all, unapologetically heavy - as wilfully assertive, then, as the fashions it is intended to match.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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