The name itself conjures up the image of a flapper girl. Bobbed hair, flapper dresses and dancing.
Clara Bow was born in 1905 in Brooklyn, New York. She entered a competition in 1921 with the grand prize being a part in a film. She won, however her scenes in the film were cut out.
Nevertheless, she kept going and made a name for herself in the film industry. One of her most famous roles was as Betty in ‘It’ (1927). The movie was based on the book of the same name by Elinor Glyn. ‘It’ was defined in the book as ‘a strange magnetism that attracts both sexes’.
In the 20s, attitudes were changing towards women. Their dresses were shorter, morals were looser (for those times) and hair was getting shorter. Clara Bow showed the changes in one of her films when she shortens her dress.
Clara Bow had large expressive eyes, an important feature in the days of silent film. Her eyes were lined with kohl – both to emphasise the emotion and also show the rebelliousness of the characters she usually played. Her eyebrows were tweezed and penciled in and her lips were painted well within the natural lip line to make them thinner and also more ‘bow’ like.
Although she was seen as an ‘it girl’, she decided to retire from Hollywood (at age 26). She claimed: “I’ve had enough… I don’t want to be remembered as somebody who couldn’t do nothin’ but take her clothes off.”
“All the time the flapper is laughing and dancing, there’s a feeling of tragedy underneath. She’s unhappy and disillusioned, and that’s what people sense.”