Friday, May 22, 2009

Remember Your Duty To Your Make-Up

I think there is only one thing I can claim to know for certain besides the obvious 'one day I will die': there is no woman in the world that does not benefit from wearing make-up. And it doesn’t matter whether the woman is a cleaner or a super-model, every woman looks better with make-up than without and that’s a fact of natural life. I don't care if you think it doesn't apply to you because, flash news, it so does. It applies to me, to you, to my mum, to Claudia Schiffer, to Linda Evangelista, to Michelle Obama, to every woman. It is, of course, no news whatsoever, as Winifred Watson, who wrote Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day in the now distant thirties, epitomised so well Chapter VII.

They moved her from the mirror. The most important moment of the day had arrived. ‘The face,’ said Miss Dubarry, ‘Can you do anything with it?’ asked Miss LaFosse nervously.
‘With that to start on,’ said Miss Dubarry, ‘I’ll do a job.’

She stood away and regarded Miss Pettigrew. She walked around her. She cocked her head on one side. Her brow grew corrugated. Miss Dubarry, in her professional guise, was a different woman. No nervousness, worry, or indecision. All gravity, firmness, competence: the expert at work.
‘Look at that jawline, ‘ said Miss Dubarry. ‘Clean as a whistle. No mass of fat to be massaged away. Look at that nose. Perfect. You can do a lot with a face.... but a nose! That takes a surgeon, and there’s not many will risk that.’
‘Beautiful,’ agreed Miss LaFosse.

‘When you’re over thirty-five,’ lectured Miss Dubarry, ‘make-up must be sparing. There’s nothing worse than a middle-aged woman with too much make-up. It accentuates her age, not lessens it. Only a very young, unlined face can stand the lavish emphasis of too many cosmetics. The effect must be delicate, artistic, the possibility never strained that it can, after all be natural, so that the beholder is left wondering which it is, art or nature.’

Miss Dubarry set to work. Miss Pettigrew had her face pommelled, patted, dabbed, massaged; cream rubbed in, cream smoothed off; lotion dabbed on, lotion wiped off. His skin tingled; felt glowing, healthy, rejuvenated.

‘Well!’ said Miss Dubarry at last, ‘it’s the best I can do here. It’s not like my own place. But you can’t have everything.’
She looked consideringly at Miss Pettigrew. Miss Pettigrew glanced back nervously. She felt a little guilty, as though, somehow or other, she should have wafted herself into Miss Dubarry’s shop, though it was beyond her comprehension that any more bottle or jars could be needed.
‘You see. I haven’t blackened the eyebrows and lashes. I’ve merely delicately darkened them. Would you say they weren’t natural? No. You wouldn’t.’
‘Can’t be bettered,’ agreed Miss LaFosse. ‘You’re a genius, Edythe’.
‘Well, I’m pretty good in my own line,’ acknowledged Miss Dubarry modestly.


Miss Pettigrew stared. She caught the back of a chair for support. She felt faint. Another woman stood there. A woman of fashion: poised, sophisticated, finished, fastidiously elegant. A woman of no age. Obviously not young. Obviously not old. Who would care about age? No one. Not in a woman of that charming exterior. The rich, black velvet of the gown was of so deep and lustrous a sheen it glowed like colour.


She, Miss Pettigrew, elegant. That delicate flush! Was it natural? Who could tell? That loosely curling hair! No ends, no wisps, no lank drooping. Was it her own? She didn’t recognize it. Those eyes, so much more blue than memory recalled! Those artfully shaded brows and lashes! That mouth, with its faint, provocative redness! Was it coloured? Only by kissing it would a man find a satisfactory answer. She smiled. The woman smiled back, assured, composed. Where was the meek carriage, the deprecating smile, the timid shyness, the dowdy figure, the ugly hair, the sallow complexion? Gone.


A lump came into her throat. Her eyes became misty.


‘Guinevere, ‘ gasped Miss LaFosse. ‘Control, I implore you. Your make-up. Remember your duty to your make-up’.

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