Friday, December 19, 2008

Become Much Better-Looking In Three Weeks

This is one of the first beauty books I owned. Published in 1977, it begins:

"Before you read this book, there are a few things I think you should know.
I am not a descendant of Hungarian "royalty" who ran across the war zone clutching nothing but grandmother's face cream formula (and a faded diploma from a long-defunct Budapest 'university of skin care').
I am not an ex-Hollywood star who decided to dabble in cosmetics after the celluloid faded into cellulite.
I am not one of the world's ten great natural beauties."

I believe that first line is a dig at Helena Rubinstein, who we'll talk more about later. She had passed away by the time Adrien wrote this book, but she had a storied past and a legacy of beauty recipes. Her products directly competed with Arpel's.
The Crash Makeover/Shapeover has a backbone of sensible advice: a lower carb and calorie diet, plus exercise and a lot of facials. But this book is a pretty involved project. Every day comes with recipes and lessons.
Tomorrow I'll share some makeover photos from the book.
Ms. Arpel was a big fan of what I call The Total Look, an everyday face which takes dozens of products to acheive, and which veers toward the drag-queenish. This look is featured in most every beauty book from the late seventies to early nineties. It tends to be quite aging, as evidenced by the photo of Adrien on the book's cover versus this very recent photo of her. Either her skincare secrets are worth their weight in gold or she set the clock back twenty years by washing off all that slap. She's adorable!

The book recommends an exercise regimen of jumping rope for five minutes everyday. In fact, Adrien reports that this is more effective than jogging for half an hour every day. There are also some pretty simple toning moves. And this, a very convincing chart:

Click to enlarge, please. At left, a woman at forty who exercises regularly. And at right, the same woman, after decomposing in the grave for several months. I mean, the same woman at forty, without exercise.