An example of classic glamour: Gone with the Wind

I remember my mom was a fan of vintage Hollywood movies.  I watched all of them with her when I was a child.  Whenever they came on TV, she would tune in, and together we would watch them from beginning to end.  While I assume other children watched Disney films, I however, got to watch the original Bond movies, The Sound of Music, Hitchcock thrillers, and Gone with the Wind.  What did all these old classics have in common?  Incredibly beautiful iconic female characters, great fashion and romance and drama done in the most legendary way.  This post I will be focusing on the lush adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s 1937 novel Gone with the Wind.

Made in 1939, and so epic in its nearly 4 hour long story-telling, this movie was the big one. It had in it so many love stories and triangles that there was never a dull moment.  And the colours and costumes in this film were fantastically grand, beautiful and perfect.  Taking place in the Civil War era in the United States’ history, it showcased a very strong female character, Scarlett O’hara, played by the actress Vivienne Leigh.  My mother told me so many women loved her character portrayal so much that the most popular westernized name in Hong Kong given to baby girls at a time was “Vivien”.  (If that was the case, how did I end up with my modest name Emmie?)  Well, anyways, back onto track, Vivien Leigh played Scarlett, a “southern belle” who full of determination, pride and guts, was a victim of unrequited love, even with all of her beauty.  While watching the film, we don’t know weather to pity or admire her, for her dire circumstances; with not getting the beau of her dreams and for having to survive war, famine, and poverty during the worst of the civil war.  As we all know, the South loses, but Scarlet never lets that affect her.

One of the many marriages a siren like Scarlett would get. Look at her elegant gown, and oh so perfect hair and make-up. Classic.
One of the many marriages a siren like Scarlett would get. Look at her elegant gown, and oh so perfect hair and make-up. Classic.
In the most girly red piped top, perfect hair, and a the gorgeous ball gown skirt that most "southern bells" don.
In the most girly red piped top, perfect hair, and a the gorgeous ball gown skirt that most “southern bells” don.

 

look at her perfect hair and make-up. Even when she is being haughty, she is beautiful.
look at her perfect hair and make-up. Even when she is being haughty, she is beautiful.

One of my favourite things about Scarlett was that she was not ashamed of her attractiveness and was not afraid to use it to get ahead or for survival reasons.  She wasn’t able to land her love obsession Ashley Wilkes, a southern gentleman with honor, but she was sure able to beguile playboy, womanizer Brett Butler.  A skill that is not to be taken lightly.  He fell for her hard.

After she marries into weath with the famous Rhett Butler, Scarlett visits her family plantation in style.
After she marries into wealth with the famous Rhett Butler, Scarlett visits her family plantation in style.
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What woman looks this good after giving birth? Apparently Scarlett does, with her gorgeous sleep cape and hair so romantically curled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favourite outfits in the film. A green velvet house coat with gold embellishments. When I lounge around my place, I don't look like this!!
One of my favourite outfits in the film. A green velvet house coat with gold embellishments. When I lounge around my place, I don’t look like this!!
The perfect family, with tons of scandalous secrets, thanks of Scarlett, or course! Look at her striped dress. It is still current with today's fashion...
The perfect family, with tons of scandalous secrets, thanks of Scarlett, of course! Look at her striped dress. It is still current with today’s fashion…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only some women can pull off this amount of glamour. Scarlett does this admist gossip of her indiscretions.
Only some women can pull off this amount of glamour. Scarlett does this admist gossip of her indiscretions.
This is her famous red dress that gets her in trouble with Rhett. A bit Christmassy for me, but still loving it with the loose flowing hair curls.
This is her famous red dress that gets her in trouble with Rhett. A bit Christmassy for me, but still loving it with the loose flowing hair curls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think?  Can contemporary Hollywood actresses compete with Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett?  Or is even trying to out do this gal a hopeless venture?  I for one think this is a tall feat.  What do today’s Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, or Emilia Clarke have on Scarlett O’Hara?  Apparently nothing, if you’ve been able to catch this classic gem of a film.

Movie inspiration: Makeup from the “Flowers of War”

I’m not very political.  Well, not from being shamefully ignorant of current everyday world matters, but by choice.  I am individualistic, and things that move me are personal and internal.  But I recently watched a movie called The Flowers of War, which came out in 2011 about the atrocity that was the Japanese occupation of China in 1937 during WWII in the city Nanking. There was a lot of violence and rape during this invasion, and the Japanese Imperial Army was painted as sub-human, and most heinous in this movie, attacking the innocent civilian women of China with dehumanizing rape and murder. Any female was a target, even school children… The premise of the movie is that women from the two most farthest social groups: school girls 13 years of age and prostitutes from the red light district, are thrust together while hiding out in a Swiss Catholic Cathedral, trying to keep their lives, while being led and aided by an American posing to be a priest.  It’s based on terrible events, but one that needs to be heard.  My family background is Chinese, and it hurts me deeply to learn about how savage the attack was on the city of Nanking.  Without putting too much blame on the Japanese, I still can’t believe how one Asian nation can rape and pillage another Asian nation with such ferocity and dis-compassion.  I will forever be scarred knowing this war actually happened.

But politics aside, I really loved the fashion and make-up in this movie. The actresses playing the prostitutes in this film really “brought it” in terms of vintage Chinese make-up and fashion.  The times were sad, but the visual feel of these glamorous women were not.  If Western culture is guilty of objectifying and overly feminizing Eastern cultures in the past, this movie totally justifies it.  So many beautiful Chinese actresses, so much wonderful fashion and make up looks.  I examined the looks in this movie and was inspired to create my own modern day Chinese prostitute make-up to beguile and enchant here in present day North America.

The hookers were well spoken and smart in this movie, without sacrificing their femininity.
The hookers were well spoken and smart in this movie, without sacrificing their femininity.  Look at their gorgeous make-up palette!  Minimal, but so striking.
Ni Ni as Yu Mo in The Flowers of War (2011).
Nothing dreary about the colourful fashion of the times. The star actress Ni Ni wears this vintage dress with the confidence only a real lady can possess.

How I made my version of the look:

1.  Thin eyebrows. Vintage Chinese make-up had the thinnest eyebrows possible, lined to perfection.  Update it by perfectly grooming your brows, a bit on the skinny side.  Not a hair should be out of place.  Line and fill with brow shadow.

2.  Thin and exaggerated black liquid liner on the top eyelid.  Make it fluid, make it thin and as pointed high as you can go, without looking too pronounced or prostitute like.  After all, we want to be inspired, but we don’t want to look like a 1940’s hooker.

3. Lightly line the bottom eyelid or skip altogether.  I still want to line the bottom, even though in the movie, the bottom eyelid looked bare and bright.  I think bottom lining is important to make your eyes pop.  But lightly line so that the star of the show is the top lid’s liquid liner.

4.  Minimalist eye shadow.  This is important…because the star of this make-up is the exaggerated liquid liner, the eye shadow should be barely noticeable, but still important, to create a look of polished elegance.  I used a slightly tan shadow on my top lids to give warmth while staying true to this vintage look.

5.  Red, red lipstick. Or tinted red lip balm.  Whatever you are comfy with!

6.  What do you think?

This is my take on this movie inspired make-up.  Not as amazingly stunning as Ni Ni’s, but passably pretty for day to day?