Hi I’m Amber Butchart, Fashion Historian. I’m here today at English Heritage’s Kenilworth Castle. In 1575 this castle welcomed Elizabeth I for 19 days at the invitation of her favorite, Robert Dudley. Today we’re going to explore Elizabeth I’s iconic look and discover what her makeup can teach us about her reign.
So join me as we meet our Queen and we show you how to create an Elizabeth I-inspired look at home. Your majesty! Well she’s not ready yet. It would have taken Queen Elizabeth a good couple of hours to get herself up to scratch.
I’m sure. Now Elizabeth I, one of the most recognisable women in British history, talk me through her look I feel like her look is iconic and there were three main parts to it so it was porcelain white clean, clear skin she had rosy cheeks and then beautiful ruby lips And how are you going to recreate that today on Annette? So we’re gonna be using either modern equivalents of Elizabethan products or ones that are a little bit more authentic to the time That’s exciting! Now modern equivalents I’m assuming that’s because some of the original ingredients could be quite harmful? Yes, so some of the ingredients that Elizabeth was using on her face things like lead are actually toxic and we don’t want to kill our model today so we’re using ones from modern times they give you the same effect That’s a release.
So what are we gonna start with? So we’re going to start with our priming stage and we’re using egg whites Egg whites were used a lot in Elizabethan times and they were used to tighten the skin, reduce the size of pores and also they help to prevent freckles from appearing which were a big no-no at that time Oh, I see.
So almost like of like a primer or a mask today? Yeah, really similar to a primer or mask. I’ve actually been trying this out on myself and I love it and my skin looks even better Really? So we could use this today? Totally, yeah you should try it I definitely, definitely will.
It’s kind of like a cooking show instead of makeup! Great I’m so interested to see how it feels and and how it looks as well So what I’m gonna do is use one egg white that I’ve foamed up so there’s a little bit of texture in there and then I’m gonna use a natural hair brush just to smooth it all over Annette’s skin So is this actually a makeup brush? It’s actually a paint brush but it’s close to what you would have used at the time so a bundle of animal hair on a wooden handle I am loving this: paint brush, egg whites this is not at all I was expecting.
Brilliant! So now I’m going to start painting it on I’ll start up in the forehead and work our way around the skin Wow! How does that feel Annette? It feels really nice actually, it’s really smooth It looks like you’re being glazed Yeah, that is what it feels like actually And actually egg white was used as a varnish and end stage to lot of makeup to make the skin look smooth It has kind of a sheen to it as well And you’ll know that it started to set when it becomes completely matte So I’m gonna do two layers and then we’ll leave it for 15 minutes to set down and then we’ll remove it So it’s to the optimum amount of layers that you want? Two is the optimum amount of layers yeah for maximum softness and maximum tightening Great Ok, it’s all set so now it’s time to remove it How does it feel now that it’s set? It feels a bit tighter and it feels a little bit like when you put PVA glue on your hands as a kid This is quite relaxing And this is rose water is it? It smells delicious! It smells amazing So rose water was known for its soothing and astringent properties and I’m removing it with a linen cloth which is the Elizabethan equivalent of a wet wipe So it’s so much better for your skin isn’t it, to use a linen cloth rather than a makeup remover wipe It’s so nice for your skin and it’s environmentally friendly So in the 16th century Elizabeth would have used ceruse as a foundation, tell me about that So ceruse was made from white led mixed with borax or vinegar or lemon juice and the thing about that is it’s extremely toxic to the skin and eventually the moisture from your skin would react with those chemicals and slowly eat away your flesh Nasty! So we’re not using that today I’m hoping? We’re definitely not using that today, no So a white water-based face paint is the key to this; much easier and much more gentle on the skin But creates the same effect But creates the same effect That really, really is white isn’t it you can see it giving you know that sort of idea of virginal purity that was so important to her image And it’s going on quite thick as well isn’t it? My understanding is that she would have to put more and more on as she got older to cover her skin damage Is that right? Yeah, and we know that Elizabeth had smallpox as a young lady and those were scars that she was quite conscious of so she wanted to cover those up and also as the effects of the ceruse took hold she had to wear more and more to cover that up So the irony being that your skin is getting worse and worse and you’re putting more and more of this toxic substance on it to try and cover up the effects of the actual product itself So then it gets worse and worse and worse and you’re in a vicious cycle I’ve mixed up in lip color for us to use and I’m gonna go ahead and put it on and while I’m applying it, I’m really interested in your take on Elizabeth as a trendsetter Well, at the time that Elizabeth was queen, the monarchy was really the head of fashion not only were they the head of state, but they were also really ahead in the style stakes So everybody wanted to dress like the Queen or to sort of emulate the women in the court circles around her really So like celebrities today kind of? Exactly, exactly.
It’s not so much the monarchy anymore it’s more celebrities or Instagram stars who kind of set the kind of trends that Elizabeth was setting back when she was Queen But it could only go so far because Elizabeth was also really keen on issuing these edicts and proclamations about what people could and couldn’t wear so this would regulate the sort of fabrics that different people could wear and even the sort of size of the stuffing that they could use to create their, you know, very extreme Tudor silhouettes Now one of the reasons for this was that it was really important at this time to be able to tell just by looking at someone their status in society so there was a lot of anxiety around sort of dressing above your station, so this was really important and Elizabeth was really keen to sort of keep a check on this But some of her statement looks kind of really stay with us today like this very strong red lip that you’re doing here Yes, I think you might be a fan of this lip Very much so! What’s involved in this? What are you using? So I’ve used a synthetic version of a vermillion pigment, so it’s like a loose powder pigment and I’ve mixed it with just a normal lip balm Just a normal lip balm so again not poisonous? Not poisonous, no.
And shape wise she really liked a smaller more compact mouth because it made your eyes look bigger So that’s the shape I’ve gone with Now at this time the health of the nation was really projected through the body of the monarch and I’m guessing that blush had a crucial role to play in this, is that right? Yeah, it was an important concept for the Elizabethans and blush adds life and health to the skin and if the Queen looks healthy, then the country’s healthy So I’m applying it in a place that makes you look as if you’re naturally flushing So it comes down from the cheekbone in a downward triangle motion Down from the cheekbone? Down from the cheekbone So that’s quite different to how we apply blush today, isn’t it? It’s really different it’s much less structured you don’t see a contour in it, it’s all about where you would naturally blush upwards from What are you using to create this Elizabethan blush? This is quite an authentic recipe.
This is a mixture of crushed madder root mixed with beeswax. And with madder you get this really beautiful, slightly orangey-red tone that makes this really nice blush color It does look quite natural, doesn’t it? Madder was used to dye clothes as well to dye fabric so it clearly had a number of uses Yeah, it was used a lot In portraits that we have as Elizabeth there’s really not much going on in the eye and especially the eyebrow area.
How are you gonna do that? Well we could bleach, or we could pluck… but I’m not going to this time To keep it more accessible I’m going to use some concealer just to make Annette’s eyebrows look less prominent and more Elizabethan, because in the Elizabethan times having fine eyebrows and a high hairline we’re considered the real points of beauty So this you know the really thin or no eyebrows is the complete antithesis of this sort of eyebrow trends that we have today, aren’t they? Yeah, it’s like anti-Instagram brow to have no eyebrow whatsoever Well I’m going to leave you guys to add the finishing touches and I’m gonna go find out more about Elizabeth’s visit to Kenilworth Castle, so I look forward to coming back later and meeting the Queen Richard, tell me about Kenilworth Castle and the people who lived here Well it was built in the 1120s and over the next few centuries it was in and out of royal control until in 1563 Elizabeth I gave it to Robert Dudley And so she visited him here a few times.
What happened in 1575? That’s right. It was Elizabeth’s fourth and final visit here It was a really grand affair, it was the longest stay she had at any of her courtier’s castles So there was feasting, specialty dramas and plays put on and even some fireworks And what do Elizabeth dress and makeup tell us about her as a person? Well, people writing at the time give us quite a rich impression of who she was She was conscious about how she was seen and the way she presents herself was as the virginal Queen emphasizing that she was enough as a ruler without sacrificing her power by marrying someone else Thanks Richard.
I’m gonna go back and check on the majestic makeover Wow, Annette you look amazing! Rebecca you’ve done such a fantastic job Thank you very much! I love the wig! Yeah, I think the wig is fantastic and I love the pearls dotted into it as well because pearls were quite special to Queen Elizabeth Definitely.
They were known to symbolise chastity so it’s absolutely perfect that the Virgin Queen would be dotted with these kind of symbols You just look so amazing And this fabric as well would have been created using actual gold thread so she would have been this real sort of otherworldly image of regal splendor You look absolut ely amazing, Annette, thank you for being a fantastic model Do you feel splendid and otherworldly? I do.
I actually feel quite strong in this In fact, I think I’m ready to explore my castle Today we’ve shown you how you can achieve an Elizabethan look that’s a lot less deadly than our 16th century ancestors Elizabeth’s makeup fed into the cult of the Virgin Queen and has left us with an enduring image of her as an iconic ruler Is there a historic makeup look that you’d like to see us recreate? If so leave us a comment Until then, I’m Amber Butchart and thanks for joining us at Kenilworth Castle you