The eyebrows have it: bushy is best on this year's catwalks

The message from the autumn/winter shows? Bushy is best

When it comes to power dressing, big shoulders are so last year. The latest way to make a statement and convey strength is with big eyebrows, which have risen to bushy new highs during this season's shows in London, Milan and Paris.

Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Christopher Kane are among a host big names helping to dispel any lingering Norman Lamont related stigma attached to the unplucked forehead, as luscious brows continue to crawl across catwalks and the big screen. The message is clear: wear your caterpillars with pride.

Debbie Finnegan, a make-up artist at Mac who worked on two shows at the London Fashion Week says earlier trends for bleaching "have been replaced by finishing a look with strong brows." Models at some shows were made to look like Brooke Shields, an early champion of the full brow, while others had their brow colour deepened for emphasis.

Jaimineey Patel at the London eyebrow bar Blink says: "People have really been turning off skinny brows. It's all about a thick look from beginning to end, and keeping them as natural as possible." Patel says sales of brow oil, which stimulates hair growth, are booming.

But before you rush out to get eyebrow transplants, another quick-fix for big brows, it's worth noting that trends are rarely static these days, fluctuating as quickly as hemlines.

In the Twenties thin eyebrows gave a vulnerable, anxious look, and in the Thirties eyebrows were plucked into oblivion, then drawn back theatrically thin and high in an expression that suggested the owner had lost the family fortune in the Wall Street crash.

In the Forties they became more natural looking, although the look was still shaped and peaked. Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis and Vivien Leigh would never have been able to give their arch looks without arched brows. In 1947 and into the Fifties the look was darker and thicker, shaped into a "diva arch," and worn by Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor.

The Sixties saw eyebrows slimmer and elongated, taking a back seat to the kind of exaggerated make-up and painted-on eyelashes adopted by Twiggy, while the following decade spawned an unflattering vogue for a rounded point in the inside corners, tapering into a very thin line. The current strong style draws from the Eighties when Brooke Shields et al matched big brows with big hair.

The trend for bushiness will be welcomed by anyone familiar with the dangers of overplucking. When the 16th-century predilection for removing brows to emulate Elizabeth I faded, courtiers resorted to using mouse skins to replace their depleted hairs. While Topshop Unique's autumn/winter show featured wild furry eyebrows, mouse brows are definitely more eek than chic.

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