The Austin Chronicle

Brow Watch

By Anne Harris, October 25, 2007, 3:30pm, Chronique

As the fuller, Eighties-era eyebrow has emerged from foreheads this fall, so has the predictable confusion between two very distinct looks. The celebrated Feral Brow, as it is often called, evokes Brooke Shields at her most hirsute, kind of a glamorous version of Eddie Munster with a dewy, presumably pre-fellatio pout.

There is another big brow, however, that is gaining a more subversive popularity on the street. It was first seen by most of us in its darkest glory on an otherwise pale Sienna Miller as Vogue's September cover girl; as it moves quietly from runways and glossy pages to the neighbor's bathroom sink, no one seems to want to name it.

I'll call it the Crawford Brow. Whether delivered via stipple brush and powder, proper pencil, or Sharpie, the Crawford Brow must be absolutely black, and of an unapologetically severe shape. This is not a tentative, ingenue look. It requires the iconic self-possession of, well, Joan, and seems to find its true calling on very pale coloring.

How can America's beauty editors confuse these two? We all went to bed for three days after seeing Dior's shiny black stick-ons on page 26 of the October 21 Times' Fashion & Beauty supplement, right? I keep seeing references to the Feral Brow in describing its counterpart.

The ever-ready automotive analogy works here: While the Eighties' Feral Brow may evoke the homegrown glamour and lack of pretension of, say, a Volvo, the Crawford Brow is more like having a Cadillac limousine parked over each eye socket. Really, who can worry about MPG ratios when the morning maquillage takes that amount of mirror-time? It is the former's opposite in almost every way. One is associated with a certain crunchy, low-maintenance aesthetic; while the other is emphatically not of nature. One requires clear mascara at most, equipment for the other should include an airbrush and stencils. One seeks to enchant with charms of a natural complexity, the other grabs you by your charms.

As extreme beauty trends go, I like this one for being so loud, but also for being more democratic than most. The Crawford Brow looks equally fierce on men and women, and because it is as distracting as it is defiantly glamorous, it doesn't require the cameo of young skin. You probably won't venture too far beyond the age-appropriate, though, since it does require a steady hand. I guess the vinyl stick-on numbers are the answer to that. Electrical tape and an Exacto also come to mind, in a pinch.

However adventurous in irony we are, looks like this one remind us that there is an everyday place for theatre. All the world can be a stage on any given day. I dare you, then, intrepid cougars and young bucks alike, to rock a righteous black brow all the way through the holidays. Be the bossa that turkey. Grab Santa by the throat and demand presents. And please share your pictures with us here on Chronique. Whether you're doing Rose-Marie or Lucille Ball, we want to see your merry evil twin.

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