Spotting a fashion comeback?

You wouldn’t normally connect fashion and beauty with flies.

The secret code of beauty spotsMessy Nessy
Also referred to as a mouche or fly (insect) by the French, the beauty spot was a very small, often distinctively shaped fabric patch that was applied to the face or exposed upper body, and was solely applied for the purpose of inviting attention. […]

The origins of mouche fashion are a bit of a mystery. Some suggest they were adopted to cover pox marks – although to disguise the damage wrought by a smallpox or syphilis attack would’ve required far more than two or three fly-sized patches. For the elite, they ultimately became a means of sending clandestine messages by means of a familiar design and placement code. Think of them like the social media emojis of the day. At high society gatherings, getting noticed was essential and appearance was the be-all and end-all.

Despite being all the rage for almost two centuries, the mouche made little or no appearance in the grand aristocratic portraits of the 18th century. It wasn’t until “It Girl” Clara Bow was famously photographed with a star on her cheek that mouches returned as a fleeting fad in the 1920s, and again in the 1940s and 1950s when Marilyn Monroe and her natural beauty spot took Hollywood by storm. Then there was Cindy Crawford’s beauty spot in the 90s of course, but in the 2020’s we appeared to have come full circle with cute emoji-style pimple patches to not only hide blemishes, but treat them Salicylic Acid to help break up congestion in pores.

Meanwhile, over at the National Gallery…

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art, data, education and technology.

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