Hi, I’m Fashion Historian Amber Butchart. I’m here at Osborne on the Isle of Wight to follow in the royal foosteps of Queen Victoria. Osborne was the holiday home for the Queen and her family through much of the 19th century and today it’s cared for by English Heritage.
Victoria retreated here away from the prying eyes of the public but today we have a special invitation So join us as we recreate another history inspired look and find out more about the Queen, her home and the country she ruled over.
Hello! Hey Amber, how’s it going? Good thanks. So today, Queen Victoria. Now she reigned from 1837 to 1901 and after Queen Elizabeth II she’s actually our longest reigning monarch to date. We’re here in the glorious surroundings of Osbourne her holiday home so Rebecca what look are you going to do for us today? On our beautiful model, Hollie, I’m going to be creating a Queen Victoria inspired makeup look.
You can see from Victoria’s various portraits that her look was very much a fair but not excessively white, skin a little flush of color in the cheeks and very neat well groomed hair So it’s kind of the, it’s the ultimate no makeup makeup tutorial that we’re going to do today Lovely! There’s a quote going round that Victoria herself thought that makeup was vulgar Now while we don’t know the while we don’t know the source of that quote what we do know is in the Victorian era makeup became much less obvious It became much more subtle And so where would she have worn a look like the one you’re going to create? Well, let’s imagine that Holly is going to be getting ready to have her portrait painted so that she needs to look very elegant So let’s start with the first part of our makeup tutorial and we’ll talk skin care and skin prep.
Here at Osborne if you go upstairs to Queen Victoria’s Dressing Room you can see her dressing table and her wash stand and I’m so curious I really want to know what’s in all those little pots. It’s tricky to know what Victoria wore on her face, but we do have some really nice quotes from and Frieda Arnold who was one of her dresses at the time who said the Queen liked to go to her dressing table around 8 o’clock in the evening when the maids will have set out some elderflower water for her to wash her face and hands and also some chamomile tea for her to bathe her eyes.
So let’s start with some chamomile tea to bathe the eyes if you keep your eyes closed for me Hollie. Is that soothing? How does it feel? Yeah, it’s lovely. Chamomile is really known for being soothing and calming and I’m sure Victoria would have appreciated this after a long day of state affairs, horse riding and walking around Osborne And now let’s wash that face with some elderflower water After Victoria’s had her skin prepped and cleansed we’ll then move on to the next step which is kind of a foundation base Now we just stepped outside to do Hollie’s base because we can’t use loose powder in a historical building.
I’ve got a brush with almost nothing on it just for some touch-ups. And we’ve used zinc oxide now one of the strongest differences for Victorian makeup is the move away from a really heavy white painted base and the move away from using white lead as that base.
Zinc oxide came in and replaced white lead and it was great because it’s sheer, it still gives you that slightly white finish Most importantly it won’t kill you – Yay! – when you wear it which is brilliant We still use zinc oxide in makeup today.
You’ll see it most often in sunscreen products and you’ll probably see that if you’ve ever put a high factor sunscreen on your skin you can see that kind of white cast Oh that sort of chalky nature? Yeah.
Now if you could get your hands on zinc oxide brilliant if you can’t get your hands on zinc oxide sometimes middle-class – working-class women might use things like starch or maybe chalk dust to make their faces look lighter or they might resort to some recipes that they’ve seen in books or magazines.
We see a real rise in magazines in this period. The Industrial Revolution sees a huge expansion of the middle-class and along with this a lot of journal sort of etiquette journals beauty fashion manuals to help people negotiate their new social position.
And one of note in particular that comes from the period we’re looking at – the 1850s – is the English Woman’s Domestic magazine. This was published by Samuel Beaton who was the husband of Isabella Beaton who was famous for her book of household management.
Of course, Mrs Beeton! Exactly! So this would cover it was aimed squarely at a middle class audience that would cover all of these areas and even some political commentary as well, and fiction, all kinds of things for middle-class Victorian women to read But not everyone was so prosperous at this time, were they? No definitely not The Industrial Revolution also caused huge amounts of poverty and squalor in some urban areas and also tuberculosis.
This claimed sixty to seventy thousand lives in each decade of Victoria’s reign It was a serious epidemic in Queen Victoria’s reign, but also tuberculosis formed kind of a beauty movement People thought that the symptoms of tuberculosis were beautiful The hectic flush cheek, a pale skin and also brightened eyes and because tuberculosis was thought to be beautiful, women may have started to emulate some of the symptoms So they wore more white powder to give them that pale look, they might have added more rouge for the for the flush of a fever and they also might have used belladonna which is a chemical that makes your pupils dilate Dilated pupils can be a sign of sickness and it also is believed to make women look more attractive I’m not going to use belladonna, you’ll be grateful to hear I’m going to use just some good old eyedrops, so if you would pop your head back for me let’s pop some eyedrops in here and see if we can give you that consumptive chic There we go So shiny One might almost say glassy Women didn’t necessarily wear a lot of product around their eyes at this time Kohl was considered vulgar and also not worth the deception, so something simple and more natural was often used maybe it might be castor oil on the eyebrows and the eyelashes to give them a gloss and a shine and to help them grow longer and stronger We’re now onto the cheeks stage of our makeup and I’m going to be using our good old friend rouge Now rouge has been around in many forms for hundreds of years and in the Victorian era there were quite a few different forms of rouge even though it was very subtly used The version that I’m going to use is a liquid rouge and this was often made using either vegetable color maybe beetroot or possibly carmine which is derived from cochineal beetles mixed with alcohol and water and I read one source that suggests that you apply the liquid rouge with a hankerchief.
I’ve never never done this before so let’s see how hankerchief application works It’s not bad! Now while we don’t know whether Victoria herself wore rouge, she does make a couple of mentions to it in her diary, specifically other people wearing it and mentioning that they look better for wearing a little bit of rouge So maybe she wasn’t too against makeup Lips are really natural in this era.
Some people said that rosy lips were the reward of temperate living and exercise outdoors. We’re gonna use a rose-tinted lip salve There were loads of recipes for how to create your own lip salves but also this was the era where makeup started to be mass-produced and the first commercially available lipstick in a tube was available towards the end of the 19th century Mass-production was really impacting fashion at this time as well In the 1850s the cage crinoline is developed using rings of steel and this is called the first industrial fashion because of the way it was manufactured And it said that by the early 1860s apparently one seventh of the weekly output of steel in Sheffield actually went towards making these crinolines So it was a very you know huge fashion at this time.
Queen Victoria apparently even succumbed to the cage crinoline just once when it was really, really hot too hot to wear her layers and layers and layers of petticoats that she otherwise would have warden to create the same silhouettes.
Now we’ve got our Queen Victoria inspired face, let’s move on to something that’s very iconic for Queen Victoria and that was her hair and her hairstyles. Now Victoria would have her hair done by a maid in the morning just into a simple twist and then her iconic hairstyle was created by her hairdressers.
She had up to two hairdressers on retainer any one time that would do her hair daily and her very neat, plaited, low bun style reflects that Victorian sensibility of modesty and simplicity, but also that having loose hair meant that you might also have loose morals Ah yes Victoria and Albert styled themselves as a very respectable couple so no loose hair to be seen on Victoria But it is quite relevant for our beachside setting here at Osborne because the seaside was one of the places where you might actually come across loose hair and some of ideas of loose morality that go alongside that.
The seaside starts to impact your wardrobe as well You would pack specific seaside dresses for your trip and these would be a bit more outlandish than fashions that you might wear in the city centre so maybe striped or maybe with a sort of a nautical touch as you can see here Now while you work on the hair, I am going to go and find out much more about Victoria’s reign, so I’ll see you guys later See you later Michael this is quite the holiday home what can you tell me about Osborne? Well, Osborne was built by Victoria and Albert as a private family home they had recently got married so like any newly married couple I guess they wanted a place of their own not a state residence this was a private family home somewhere where they could escape to from the pressures of court life in London and Windsor.
Victoria is known as a ruler who had a very strict moral code How did her upbringing impact that? She had quite a strict upbringing. She was brought up by her mother, her father had died when she was just you know not even a year old and her mother was really reacting I suppose against the loose morals of the previous Georgian period and Queen Victoria remembered her childhood as a rather melancholy affair really, a rather lonely affair.
And so that must have also influenced the way that she felt about family and children as well if she was brought up on her own? Yes, I mean I think because she didn’t really have much of a normal family life herself she in turn reacted against this and when she married Albert and they had children of their own they wanted to create this sort of idyllic happy family life something that neither Victoria or Albert had really had themselves as children Victoria’s reign is known as a huge period of change especially with the Industrial Revolution.
What are the global ramifications of this? I think the technological changes were huge. There was an outlook, it was possible to look outward much more and communicate globally and of course this led to the building up of a huge empire during Victoria’s reign and it’s appropriate that we’re standing in this room talking at the moment, this fabulous Indian interior because India became a part of a very important central part of Victoria’s Empire so much so that she became Empress of India in the 1870s What kind clothes with Victoria have worn here at Osborne? The kind of clothes she wore were comparatively relaxed, Osborne being a family home there wasn’t this formality of dress here that there would have been elsewhere, no crowns and tiaras for instance.
So floaty summer dresses, muslins, light silks that sort of thing And you have some items of clothing here that Victoria actually wore. What can you tell me about them? We’ve got a night dress that we know that she wore.
It’s monogrammed with her V R with a crown on the top Wow! It’s my dream to have monogrammed pyjamas You must! You must! We’ve also got a couple of pairs of stockings a white pair and a black pair both of which have got again the Queen’s initials on the top.
The black pair were probably morning stockings I think I mean famously Queen Victoria spent most of her later years as a widow Thanks so much Michael I’m gonna go and see how our Victoria is coming together Pleasure Oh wow Hollie, you look amazing! Rebecca well done this is fantastic What a transformation.
I absolutely love this look it’s so ideal, the lace is great Victoria loved lace, she even collected antique lace and she had some specially commissioned Honiton lace from Devon for her wedding dress which she rewore again and again throughout her life at various events.
She was also known to wear lilac as well so it’s just you look like a young Victoria, it’s perfect It’s such a stunning dress isn’t it? It really is! And the hair really is incredible these flowers are amazing were they from? The flowers I’m completely in love with they’re actually from the Osborne estate so we’ve had them fresh from the garden because we know that Victoria really loved to wear flowers in her hair and she loved to wear fresh flowers, especially while she was here at Osborne Oh, how gorgeous! There’s some significant flowers from Osborne too The Osborne myrtle which Princess Victoria, which was Queen Victoria’s daughter had in her wedding bouquet and then it’s gone on to become a bit royal tradition so Princess Diana had it in her wedding bouquet and so did Catherine Middleton and then most lately Meghan Markle too So it all started right here at Osborne? It absolutely did! How lovely! How does it feel? It just feels amazing.
It’s so elegant and the makeup is very subtle and it’s actually very close to how I like to wear my own makeup but obviously with this beautiful gown and the flowers of my hair. I wish I could have fresh flowers every day! I know! I’m so jealous of this whole look.
So I think it’s a lovely day outside, why don’t we go outside and enjoy the gardens? Holle looks so regal as our Queen Victoria and it’s impossible to imagine a prettier spot to have brought this look to life You can learn more about Queen Victoria by visiting Osborne for yourself Click on the screen now to start planning your trip Could you pull off this look or is there another historical period that’s more fitting to your style? Let us know in the comments below Until next time, I’m Amber Butchart, and thanks for joining me here at Osborne