Are thin eyebrows making a comeback?


Frankie Graddon | The Pool

Yesterday, the hotly anticipated cover of British Vogue’s September issue was dropped. And on the cover? Rihanna. Wearing a purple dress and a pair of orange gloves by Prada and with a crown of flowers perched on her head, there was one aspect of Rihanna’s appearance that has got everyone talking – her eyebrows. Accompanying her red, glossy Fenty lipstick and perfectly highlighted skin were two pencil-thin brows. The look, created by make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench, caused a stir on social media and raised the troubling question: are skinny eyebrows making a comeback?

For many of us, this question will provoke a somewhat horrified yelp of “nooooooo”. Remember the 90s? Remember the overplucked, sperm-shaped brows that plagued the decade? Remember all of the many, many years since spent applying RapidBrow and praying that they will grow back? How could we return to such dark days? Have we not learned from our mistakes?!

But, of course, we haven’t. We never do. Trends, by their very nature, are cyclical, meaning that it is but a matter of time before what was once sooooo last year is, all of a sudden, hot again. And skinny eyebrows are no exception – it’s just a case of history repeating itself.

Worn by Marlene Dietrich and Clara Bow, the 1920s saw skinny brows reach peak popularity. The look was whippet-thin and straight, with just a hint of a curve. The 1940s ushered in a natural-brow look, thanks to the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Lauren Bacall, whose dramatic arch was widely replicated. The 1950s brow got even fuller – think Elizabeth Taylor – before slimming down again for the 60s and 70s. Apparently, Sophia Loren shaved off her eyebrows and drew them back on to achieve her thin-brow look (something my friend Leanne tried to replicate when we were 12, to disastrous effect).

Brooke Shields and Cindy Crawford encapsulated the 80s bushy brow, before being overtaken by the aforementioned 90s overplucked look, as sported by Drew Barrymore, Pamela Anderson and Gwen Stefani, the “Don’t Speak” years. The thin brow continued well into the noughties, before, once again, being replaced by full, thick brows – need I even mention Cara Delevingne?

That was seven years ago. So, if the last century is anything to go by, skinny eyebrows are due a 2018 revival.

But would we really revisit barely-there brows again? A look that not even Meghan Markle can pull off?

In his Editor’s Letter, Edward Enninful describes the September issue as “a real statement about what the coming months will bring”. Be that handbags, dress lengths, boots shapes or, God forbid, eyebrows, one cannot help think that the agenda might have (unfortunately) been set. Plus, if Rihanna’s doing it, then surely it’s just a matter of time...

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