The Ultimate Makeup Chameleon
The bestselling female recording artist of all time, Madonna is a chameleon and master of reinvention, more so than any other icon, with her ever-changing look having played a crucial part in her ongoing success over the past three decades. As she so famously said, I’m my own experiment. I’m my own work of art, or, in the lyrics of Vogue: Beauty’s where you find it.
Madonna was born Madonna Louise Ciccone in 1958 in a suburb of Detroit. In 1976, she left high school for a dance scholarship at the University of Michigan, but dropped out after a couple of years to move to New York City, where modern dance was really happening. After throwing herself into the club scene, she got her first single deal in 1982. Holiday, Borderline, and Lucky Star brought her fame, and three years later she was playing Madison Square Garden.
Even Madonna’s first iconic makeup look, which complemented the punky styling of multiple bangles and lacey gloves (inspired by eighties downtown stylista Maripol), had an air of the screen goddess about it albeit in an eighties way. All the hallmarks were there, from the black-winged liner and smudged-out shading line at the socket to the red lips.
Madonna has spoken of the strong influence since childhood of the golden age of film and Hollywood stars, and you can trace this throughout her career. For the video for Material Girl, she re-created Marilyn Monroe’s Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend look from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; Express Yourself was inspired by the silent movie Metropolis; and 1990’s Vogue presented a visual and lyrical homage to the roster of actors who had inspired her, including Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, and Rita Hayworth. She’s embraced many more looks almost too many to write about here.
In addition to singing, acting, and following her own style agenda, Madonna is also a published author and a savvy businessperson with multimedia companies.1
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