Friday, August 5, 2011

Black Patches and Eyebrows Under Charles II

Under Charles II in 17th century England, ladies wore black patches of varying sizes and shapes to add beauty to their features and disguise ugly blemishes. Spots, stars, moons, suns, and other shapes were applied to pure white skin. Pepys in his Diary, recalls the Duchess of Newcastle “wearing many black patches because of pimples about her mouth.” Butler, in his Hudibras, writes:

“The sun and moon, by her bright eyes

Eclipsed and darken’d in the skies,

Are but black patches that she wears,

Cut into suns, and moons, and stars.”

In one drawing of the time (see above), a lady wore a patch in the shape of a horse and carriage on her forehead! Grammont, in his memoirs, writes that patches became so popular that one would always find them, along with rouge, on a lady’s toilet.

It was also the fashion for men and women of the time to blacken their eyebrows. Shadwell, in his “Humourists”, writes:

“Be sure if your eyebrows are not black, to black ‘em soundly. Ah! Your black eyebrow is your fashionable eyebrow. I hate rogues that wear eyebrows that are out of fashion.”

Rimmel, Eugene. The Book of Perfumes. London, 1867. pp 207 - 208.

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