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Glamour on the Go. Compacts: The Beautiful Story of make up at The Lightbox

From shop girl to Duchess, ‘Glamour on the Go. Compacts: The Beautiful Story of Make-Up’ at The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking will be a world first in its comprehensive look at beauty through the 20th century. The exhibition will lead you on a journey through the glamour industry, with beauty essentials from the Pre and Post-War decades and beyond, presenting a remarkable piece of social history for all to explore.

The exhibition, held in association with The British Compact Collectors’ Society, charts the tale of the portability of beauty products and glamour accessories as they moved from the dressing table to the handbag where they became very much ‘on the go’.  

An array of breath-taking compacts will be set in context with all the accoutrements that made female glamour possible, from hairstyling accessories, creams and perfumes to the finishing touches of powder, mascara, lipstick and rouge.  

Iconic pieces from collections in the UK will be shown alongside loans from Private Collections and Corporate Archives including the Boots Archive. This glamorous showcase is being  created by Michael Regan, Curator of the exhibition with assistance from Katherine Higgins, Guest Curator, well known as the face of vintage on the BBC.  

‘The joy of this exhibition is that it brings to life the tale of vintage beauty. We reveal the efforts that went into maintaining a perfect complexion through the accessories that were part and parcel of everyday life. Whatever social strata you inhabited, from Hollywood film star to suburban housewife, the demands of maintaining a flawless face came first. We use original compacts to explore just how that glorious glamour was achieved.’  Katherine Higgins, BBC vintage expert  

The Story of Portable Beauty
  This exhibition will put into context the historical and social significance of the rise of the beauty industry in the 20th century including why the demand for ‘glamour on the go’ increased. From the early influence of flawless Hollywood beauty through to growing opportunities for women in the workplace, the last one hundred years saw the portable cosmetics industry boom as beauty tools moved away from the dressing table and into the handbag.

This growing desire for beauty accessories also had class ramifications. Where once compacts were the privilege of the very wealthy, precision engineering developments during World War I and II resulted in the ability to produce beautiful compacts made from base metals which were far more cost effective. Subsequently in the Post-War era metals were in short supply or subject to restrictions regarding their use. Due to these limitations plastics were used more creatively which meant that the material was often used for refills of cream powder, or lower-end beauty products. Additionally developments in film and theatre make-up helped to legitimise make-up for the mass market.  

To reflect these shifts in the history of portable beauty ‘Glamour on the Go. Compacts: The Beautiful Story of Make-Up’ will be presented in four zones:
  ·         ‘Dressing for Dinner’ – an examination of the etiquette and beauty style of the wealthy including a look at male facial care products and equipment.
·         ‘Screen Sirens’ – a look at the influence of Hollywood on compacts and make-up.
·         ‘The Perfect Complexion’ – images of the flawless face and how it was achieved through the decades.
·         ‘Girl Power’ – make-up for women in the workplace.  

‘Glamour on the Go. Compacts: The Beautiful Story of Make-Up’ will be on show at The Lightbox from 26 July – 28 September 2014, entrance is free. 

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