Whether you’re drawn to Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or Liza Minnelli in Cabaret , J-Law in American Hustle or Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game , find beauty inspiration in Vogue ’s top 30 era-defining film looks. There’s a moment in American Hustle when Jennifer Lawrence , playing the brash housewife Rosalyn, asks her friends to smell her nails. “ The top coat is perfume-y but there’s also something rotten ,” she tells them. “ I can’t get enough of it. ” As the film progresses, Rosalyn’s chipped red manicure, along with her gold eyeshadow and backcombed beehive, comes to symbolize her character’s moral decay and love of all that glitters. When she confronts Amy Adams ’s Sydney about having an affair with her husband, Rosalyn says he will never leave her because “ he keeps coming back for it – it’s like that perfume that you love that you can’t stop smelling, even when there’s something sour in it. ” Rosalyn’s beauty look, far from being an afterthought, is the crux of her character. From Marilyn Monroe ’s vampy red lipstick in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to Marlene Dietrich ’s pencil-thin eyebrows in Shanghai Express , memorable beauty moments in film are era-defining. They provide a cultural barometer for the trends of the day and have birthed hundreds of pop culture icons: Princess Leia with her twisted buns, Margot Tenenbaum with her kohl-lined eyes and blunt bob, Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet with her red lips and powder-blue eyeshadow. Changing beauty looks is also key to character development. In Sabrina , Audrey Hepburn plays the chauffeur’s daughter who leaves for Paris as a shy young ingénue and returns a sophisticated woman. Her cat-eye flick, groomed brows and painted lips indicate her transformation as much as her glamorous new clothes. The movie makeover takes a darker turn in Vertigo when James Stewart’s tortured detective molds his new lover Judy into the image of his deceased lost love, Madeleine. He asks her to dye her hair an icy blonde and wear a pale pink shade of lipstick so that when she returns from the beauty parlor it looks as if Madeleine has risen from the dead. For other film heroines, makeup is a form of armor that shields them from the slings and arrows of the world. Liza Minnelli ’s Sally Bowles is rarely seen without her exaggerated lashes, emerald green manicure and penciled-in beauty mark in Cabaret , even when her life is falling apart. More recently in Molly’s Game , Jessica Chastain ’s Molly Bloom realizes that she needs a sleek blow-dry and a smokey eye to make the men at her poker games take her seriously. “ A professional stylist turned me into what my defense attorney would later call the Cinemax version of myself ,” she quips in voiceover. Beauty, she discovers, is still the most powerful tool for reinvention. Here, Vogue presents 30 of the most memorable beauty looks in film.
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