1940s and 1950s
Escapism was also the byword of the 1940s. While the onset of war threatened to deal a hard blow to the cosmetics industry (short supplies entailed limited alcohol for perfume, reduced supplies of fats for lipsticks, and little or no plastic for packaging), women’s attachment to makeup increased. With the conscription in the waryears of single females aged between 18 and 25, imagination and initiative were key to survival; although rations could curb a woman’s spending, they served only to increase her vanity. When stockings proved impossible to come by, leg make-up provided the perfect answer – seams pencilled in with eyeliner became so common that they were almost fashionable, and body make-up caught on.
The sale of men’s products soared, too – the great morale boost of luxury products meant that scents for men and soap in ‘man-sized bars’ became number one gifts for servicemen. Even those who would balk at the mention of ‘face powder’ were happy to cover them selves in talc. The American influence hit Europe big time – the presence of American GIs (with their gifts of nylon stockings) added a thrill of excitement to an otherwise tense and worrying time. Hollywood was still the biggest influence on beauty, with Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall and Rita Hayworth as memorable icons.
Glamour, glamour, glamourwas the mantra of the 1950s, as the end of the war signalled the beginning of a whole new era. Dior’s New Look revolutionized the world of fashion, with models on the Paris runways boasting pinched-in waists and sculpted busts.
1950s Hairstyles for Women Photo Gallery
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