Queen Elizabeth I, yeah? What a lady.
When you hear her name, the icily seductive, porcelain-skinned Cate Blanchett may come to mind, given her well-known portrayals. Or perhaps you remember Judi Dench’s Elizabeth from Shakespeare in Love (or maybe you don’t--I had to look that up).
But me? I’m all about Miranda Richardson’s delightfully spiteful Queenie from Blackadder.
If you’re not familiar with Blackadder, please remedy that straightaway. (It’s on Netflix Instant. Hot tip: seasons two through four are much better than the first.) The series follows Edmund Blackadder, played by elder statesman of British comedy Rowan Atkinson, through four different eras of British history, appearing alongside Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Rik Mayall, and a bunch of other smart, hilarious humans that make me laugh so hard my cheeks hurt on the reg.
Queenie lives a royally sheltered life, always accompanied by Nursie, her childhood nanny. But boy-crazy Queenie fully understands her power, and she’s not afraid to use it, especially when it comes to her stable of suitors. In perhaps one of my favorite quotes, when challenged to a drinking competition full of grunting men, she exclaims, “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant.” When asked to prove it, she replies, “First I’m going to have a little drinky, and then I’m going to execute the whole bally lot of you!”
She’s basically the best.
But only recently did it occur to me how much I wanted to steal her makeup. That orange blush! I couldn’t get it out of my head. I just had to try this for myself. Not an exact replica--I’m not wearing a costume or anything--but something I could wear in real life, any old day I felt like it, if I wanted to feel a bit like Queenie.
Before I break down this real-life look for you, I want to give a shout-out to Victoria Pocock, the makeup designer for Blackadder, because this whole daffy-Virgin-Queen-with-a-vengeance beauty look came straight from her brain-box. Oh, and my pal Gia Harris, also a makeup artist, whose advice was invaluable.
GETTING QUEENIE'S LOOK
So! Start with clean, moisturized skin, as usual. Apply your foundation or BB/CC cream of choice. I’m using one from Boscia, but honestly, I’m open to suggestions--good candidates for my oily, acne-prone, but also annoyingly super-sensitive skin, or as I like to call it, “friggin’ bonkers.”
Before applying, I mixed the BB cream with Tarte Amazonian Clay Illuminating Serum, which I think is discontinued, sadly, but go ahead and use any luminizer, because with this look, you really want your skin to glow. Don’t forget concealer, of course, and a little dusting of matte finishing powder on the chin, nose, and forehead. Here’s that monochrome mannequin face.
Eyeshadow should be minimal--almost undetectable. If you do heavy eyes on the regular, the restraint required for this look might be tough or feel a little weird, but I believe in you.
I covered only my lids in Kitten from Stila, which I bet many of you have in your arsenal already. If you don’t, your favorite champagne-y shade will do.
Ever so lightly, I brushed the darker shade in the Portobello eyeshadow duo by NARS just along the crease.
I lined my eyes, but barely, with the same shade of eyeshadow, pushing the pigment into the top lash line.
I used the lighter shade in Portobello to fill in my eyebrows, another key part of this look--not overly intense, but defined. (Side note: I’ll never forget the first time I actually attempted to “do” my brows beyond the usual tweezing, and how subtly but essentially it changed my face.)
In keeping with the subtle eyes, I curled my lashes and applied a couple of coats of CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion Mascara in brown.
Now, the cheeks. Vital. The most important part of this look, and what hooked me in the first place.
I used a blush brush with a smaller dome and more densely packed bristles than the one I usually use, because I wanted the effect to be just this side of doll-like.
To start, I used Givenchy Le Prisme Powder Blush in In Vogue Orange. It’s a quad of four shades, which you can use separately or blend together; in this case, I combined them all.
Start the blush higher up on the face, almost directly below the orbital bone, in the middle of the cheek, and sweep it back toward the top of your ear. The concentration of pigment should be closer to the sides of the face than the apples of your cheeks.
Blend some up your temples and even lightly above your brows. Don’t be afraid to go a little wild here.
If you aren’t used to wearing a lot of blush, you’re going to think you look like a clown, but trust me, you don’t. You look amazing. Really!
Next, I took Inglot AMC Face Blush in shade 70 and used my other, slightly fluffier blush brush to blend some of it into what was already on my face. For an even punchier nighttime look, you might want to only use this shade.
Now, your lips. Stains call for smooth lips, and I exfoliate mine pretty much every day with a wet toothbrush. Put a little lip balm on there and let it settle in.
Then take a brownish-purply stain--I used Tarte LipSurgence in Moody--and use your finger to press it in to your lips for that just-ate-a-grape-popsicle look that I happen to love.
To finish, use an illuminator like NARS's in Copacabana to highlight the tear ducts, the bridge of your nose, the little boop on your chin, your cupid’s bow, under the arches of your brows, and along the tops of your cheekbones.
Now you can go out into the world inhabited by the spirit of Queenie: giggly, girly, more than a little daffy, but effortlessly in charge.
Let me know if you give it a try!