Movie inspiration: Makeup from the “Flowers of War”

I’m not very political.  Well, not from being shamefully ignorant of current everyday world matters, but by choice.  I am individualistic, and things that move me are personal and internal.  But I recently watched a movie called The Flowers of War, which came out in 2011 about the atrocity that was the Japanese occupation of China in 1937 during WWII in the city Nanking. There was a lot of violence and rape during this invasion, and the Japanese Imperial Army was painted as sub-human, and most heinous in this movie, attacking the innocent civilian women of China with dehumanizing rape and murder. Any female was a target, even school children… The premise of the movie is that women from the two most farthest social groups: school girls 13 years of age and prostitutes from the red light district, are thrust together while hiding out in a Swiss Catholic Cathedral, trying to keep their lives, while being led and aided by an American posing to be a priest.  It’s based on terrible events, but one that needs to be heard.  My family background is Chinese, and it hurts me deeply to learn about how savage the attack was on the city of Nanking.  Without putting too much blame on the Japanese, I still can’t believe how one Asian nation can rape and pillage another Asian nation with such ferocity and dis-compassion.  I will forever be scarred knowing this war actually happened.

But politics aside, I really loved the fashion and make-up in this movie. The actresses playing the prostitutes in this film really “brought it” in terms of vintage Chinese make-up and fashion.  The times were sad, but the visual feel of these glamorous women were not.  If Western culture is guilty of objectifying and overly feminizing Eastern cultures in the past, this movie totally justifies it.  So many beautiful Chinese actresses, so much wonderful fashion and make up looks.  I examined the looks in this movie and was inspired to create my own modern day Chinese prostitute make-up to beguile and enchant here in present day North America.

The hookers were well spoken and smart in this movie, without sacrificing their femininity.
The hookers were well spoken and smart in this movie, without sacrificing their femininity.  Look at their gorgeous make-up palette!  Minimal, but so striking.
Ni Ni as Yu Mo in The Flowers of War (2011).
Nothing dreary about the colourful fashion of the times. The star actress Ni Ni wears this vintage dress with the confidence only a real lady can possess.

How I made my version of the look:

1.  Thin eyebrows. Vintage Chinese make-up had the thinnest eyebrows possible, lined to perfection.  Update it by perfectly grooming your brows, a bit on the skinny side.  Not a hair should be out of place.  Line and fill with brow shadow.

2.  Thin and exaggerated black liquid liner on the top eyelid.  Make it fluid, make it thin and as pointed high as you can go, without looking too pronounced or prostitute like.  After all, we want to be inspired, but we don’t want to look like a 1940’s hooker.

3. Lightly line the bottom eyelid or skip altogether.  I still want to line the bottom, even though in the movie, the bottom eyelid looked bare and bright.  I think bottom lining is important to make your eyes pop.  But lightly line so that the star of the show is the top lid’s liquid liner.

4.  Minimalist eye shadow.  This is important…because the star of this make-up is the exaggerated liquid liner, the eye shadow should be barely noticeable, but still important, to create a look of polished elegance.  I used a slightly tan shadow on my top lids to give warmth while staying true to this vintage look.

5.  Red, red lipstick. Or tinted red lip balm.  Whatever you are comfy with!

6.  What do you think?

This is my take on this movie inspired make-up.  Not as amazingly stunning as Ni Ni’s, but passably pretty for day to day?

What do you think? Let me know!

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