Lyntonesque: Sophia Says—“Violent makeup is never attractive”

As summer’s end encroaches, eyes turn from beachfronts and sunsets to the pages of fall fashion issues. To paraphrase the inimitable Sophia Loren, don’t be fashion’s victim. “Dress for yourself,” she cautions in her 1979 biography Sophia: Living and Loving Her Own Story (A.E. Hotchner). The lady has little regard for trends or the advice of “professionals,” instead embracing a DIY-attitude. Nothing exceptionally surprising in her words; but they are her words, and as such are worthy of note. After all, who doesn’t want to be a legend—although perhaps in a smaller pond.

“From the beginning of my career, I had a natural instinct for what suited me best in makeup, hairstyle, clothes, and body care. I imitated no one. I did not slavishly follow the dictates of fashion. I wanted only to look like myself, uniquely me, which I realized could not be achieved by grotesque or faddish distortion, but only by enhancing what nature gave me, which is an ensemble of irregularities—pronounced nose, large mouth, weak chin, and protruding cheekbones…. I have learned, however, that too much makeup makes a woman look older and can destroy all expression in her face.”

What a legend looks like after finishing a meal. Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images/


“When I say women should stay natural, I don’t mean they shouldn’t use makeup or do whatever they can to present themselves in the best possible light. But makeup and all other beauty preparations should not go against the natural grain of one’s features but with it….Violent makeup is never attractive. I would say a woman should love her physical imperfections and not try to erase them but rather to transform them, to make them appear as pleasant and personal characteristics.”

At her villa in Italy. Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images/

Two lovebirds, two hats. Here, with husband, Carlo Ponti. Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images/


“I never go to beauty parlors. I hate their gossipy climate and the amount of time they waste….I admit that as a professional actress I have been in a position to learn things about beauty care that would not be available to the average woman, but I honestly think that if someone really wants to fend for herself, and if she studies her possibilities, and experiments, as I did, she will have much better results than she will at the local beauty parlor. If you have ever watched one of those makeup artists at work in a department store’s beauty section, giving demonstrations on the faces of customers, you must have observed that he is making up everyone’s face exactly alike. He would have you think that that is the latest style, but believe me, style must be adapted to the woman and not vice versa.”

With sister, Maria Scicolone. Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images/

Sophia in 1957. Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images/

“Another word of warning: Don’t run out and buy a dress because it looks terrific in a fashion magazine. The model wearing that dress if five foot ten, breastless, and hasn’t eaten anything but curds and soy beans for months. Your clothes bespeak the kind of person you are. They represent your personality. On meeting you, a person, consciously or subconsciously, forms an opinion of you that reflects what you are wearing. It isn’t a matter of whether your clothes are expensive or not; their pattern, color, and the way they are worn—that’s what counts. Depending on the person, a modest print frock can be much more chic than a robe from a great couturier…. Styles go in and out of fashion, fads appear and disappear, gowns are short, then long, and then short again. There is nothing solid on which one can rely. The only real concrete things on which you can depend, although they may seem abstract, are your relationship with your surroundings, your estimation of yourself, and the feeling you have of what kind of person you want to be.”

With 6-month old Carlo Ponti, Jr. Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images/


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