Title:  beauty icon: joan crawford
Posted:  Saturday, 23 March 2013 @ 14:33
It's Joanie's birthday today so I thought I'd honour her by celebrating that famous face of hers.

Joan was a master of image renewal. She was Madonna before Madonna was even born. She was never one to get into a style rut but was always ahead of the trends - perhaps even setting them. Although we tend to remember her later looks with the thick eyebrows and crazy lipstick as being typical Crawford, in her heyday she was constantly evolving her look. She pioneered, with the help of Max Factor, some of the most memorable beauty looks of her day. There's a reason the classic 40s lip shape is called the Crawford Smear - it was first worn by Crawford back in the mid 30s.

Joan's first years in Hollywood were undistinguished and her make-up is likewise very understated - perhaps surprisingly so, given that the 1920s were a decade of dramatic looks. She played up to her most striking feature, her eyes. Her wide thin mouth was not suited to the classic rosebud lips of the day and her eyebrows also remained natural. 

By the end of the decade, following a marriage to the son of Hollywood royalty, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Joan was being groomed for major stardom. At this point, her look follows major trends of the time - the pointed talons, tanned skin, thinly plucked brows and vampy lips are all typical of the period.

Letty Lynton in 1932 helped to define the Crawford look. The lips were full and dramatic and scarcely followed the natural shape at all. Eyes were heavily lined, lashes thickly covered and eyebrows were dramatically curved although still thin. This is the classic image of Crawford at the height of her beauty - uncompromising and bold.

By the middle of the 1930s, Crawford's look had become softer and more natural, with the help of Hollywood's most famous make-up artist, Max Factor. Realising that her eyes were her most unique feature, just as she herself had done in the 1920s, he made them even larger by lining the waterline with a light shade and really piling on the mascara (although, on the bottom lashes, the mascara doesn't reach right up to the lash line, making her eyes appear even rounder). The brows are natural and the lips are light but retain the Crawford Smear shape.

When the 1940s dawned, Joan's make-up had taken on a softer, more natural look. Round eyes were no longer de rigeur and the lashes were more defined and separated. Her face is more cleverly contoured with her beautiful cheekbones highlighted. The eyebrows are defined and carefully arched and her lips are soft and glossy which accentuates the exquisite shape with its softly curved edges.

By the end of the decade, Joan's look had developed to the point from which it never really changed for the rest of her life. Her eyebrows were thick, dense and rounded, eyes accentuated with false eyelashes and the most notable feature of all, her lips, lacking any cupid's bow and becoming almost ovoid in shape. Although the colours changed, this would be the look with which she was to become most associated as she wore it for the remaining thirty years of her life, in some of her most iconic movie roles.

Joan truly knew how to create a look that suited her yet was adaptable - she was a true beauty chameleon who was able to change her look subtly so that she could fit neatly into any decade. What is your favourite Joan look? Would you copy any of her looks?