There was a lot going on in the Nineties: Grunge, Winona Ryder, Beverly Hills, 90210, the Supers (Naomi, Cindy, Linda, Christy, Claudia, Kate)… But let’s think about the late ’90s, and let’s think about Gwyneth Paltrow—specifically, Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998’s Great Expectations, a film not so much ‘great’ in its retelling of the Charles Dickens classic as in its celebration of, well, Gwyneth Paltrow.
In the film, Paltrow plays the swanlike Estella, the unattainable object of affection for fisherman/artist Finn (Ethan Hawke at his scruffy best). Estella is a man-eating machine in mules (yes, mules, it was 1998) and Gwyneth truly sells it, gliding through the film all shiny golden hair, killer collarbones, and close-to-perfect bone structure. When she reappears in Finn’s life (after a ten year absence) in New York’s Central Park—clad in a kelly-green blouse and skirt by Donna Karan, the designer behind Paltrow’s parade of sleek, pitch-perfect ensembles—you immediately understand why poor Finn will never get over her: she is American beauty personified, and she doesn’t even seem to be trying.
Estella’s relatively natural look (from her tawny teen years to the more polished, grown-up NYC phase) owes a lot to Gwynnie’s kinda-unbelievable DNA: that thin but not un-athletic body; the clear skin, bright eyes, and perfect teeth. But, what’s that we see? Some soft, powdery shading on the lids, well-groomed brows, and—when she’s crushing men’s spirits at clubs, galas, and restaurants—lips painted a matte deep-burgundy shade…not unlike the “stamped on” dark pouts that makeup artists sent down the fall 2012 runways, from Rochas to Bottega to Versace.
It's the rare beauty moment that stands the test of time (we don’t see “The Rachel” making a comeback), but Gwyneth in Great Expectations is more relevant than ever.
Anastasia Brow Wiz: Full-on, full brows all the time? Yawn. We’re all about Estella’s ultra-thin arches. This retractable pencil has a pinprick point on one end and a brow brush on the other—perfect for drawing those fine lines.
Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer in Porcelain: Minimalist chic also applies to makeup—we're sure Estella would skip foundation and smooth on a lightweight base like this instead, without even looking in the mirror.
MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Mahogany: Give lip liner a chance. Paired with lipstick of the same color, it actually makes everyone's mouth look more dramatic and sexy.This chocolate-cherry shade is exactly what we’re talking about.
MAC Lipstick in Dubonnet: The ultimate late-’90s lip?Adark berry or brick shade, free from shimmer or shine.
Lancôme Définicils: Eyes can be seductive without piles and piles of mascara. Estella’s looked virtually makeup-free, save for the lightest coat of dark-brown mascara.
Sunday Riley Prismasilk Eye Color in Camille: A veil of cloudy color in the crease makes baby blues pop. This new offering from Riley is the perfect neutral.
Mason Pearson Boar Bristle Brush: Only the best for Estella. She probably would have stolen her Mason Pearson from Ms. Dinsmoor.
Redken Sheer Straight 06 Lightweight Straightening Gel for Fine Hair: Gel was the argan oil of ’90s hair care.This formula preps fine hair for a straight blow-dry without adding extra weight.