Another exceptional lady whom I admire for her determination, talent, dazzling beauty, free spirit, intelligence, and courage is actress Sophia Loren born Sofia Villani Scicolone. Sophia Loren is in her 80s right now and she’s still looking stunning! She continues to be an abundant source of inspiration for all young actresses and make-up artists!
Sophia Loren’s voluptuous curves along with her cat eyes made her an iconic figure. Her signature look is constantly reproduced by many. Sophia has been more philosophical about her eyes, over the years, and she once said “beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes”, and “if you haven’t cried, your eyes can’t be beautiful”.
In the 1960s, the eye make-up was at its highest: the sales of kohl and eyeliner had rocketed while the lips make-up became almost non-existent.
When a child, Sofia was perceived as unattractive and even nicknamed Sofia Stuzzicadente or “Sofia the toothpick” as she was tall and skinny.
At the end of the war, Italy was shattered and food, jobs and money were scarce. One way women could make money was by participating in beauty pageants. At 14 years of age, Sofia blossomed into a lovely teenager and entered such a pageant. She was one of the finalists.
Later on, after her very first photo-shoot, she was told that her facial proportions were wrong, that her nose was too long and her mouth too big. However, she never had plastic surgery (a common practice in the 50s).
She was discovered by Carlo Ponti, one of Italy’s leading film directors, at a beauty contest in 1950. Sofia was 16 and Carlo was 37. Later on, Ponti became her manager…and her husband.
Her first stage name was Sofia Lazzaro and around 1953 she changed it to Sophia Loren inspired by Märta Torén (Swedish stage and film actress of the 1940s and 1950s).
Sophia Loren’s first starring role was in Aida in 1953, for which she received international critical acclaim.
She starred in 11 films in 1954 alone. By the mid-1950s Sophia Loren had established herself as an Italian sex symbol.
“Sex-appeal is 50 percent what you’ve got and 50 percent what people think you’ve got.”
She launched her international career after signed a five-picture contract with Paramount in 1956. Around that year she started to learn English too.
Sophia Loren’s first Hollywood film was Desire Under the Elms, 1958.
Her performance in the movie Two Women earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1961 and made her the first artist to win an Oscar for a foreign-language performance.
She turned down Cary Grant’s marriage proposal. Cary Grant asked Sophia Loren to marry him at the end of the shooting of The Pride and the Passion, in 1957.
In September 1957 she marries Carlo Ponti in Mexico. Ponti was still formally married at the time but the divorce was not recognized in Italy. In 1963 the Pontis were charged with public bigamy and their marriage was annulled. Finally, in 1965 the divorce becomes a legal thing and Ponti separates officially from his wife. Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti re-married in April 1967 and they had been together until Carlo’s Ponti’s death, in 2007. More than 50 years of relationship!
In 1982, while in Italy, she was wrongly imprisoned for tax evasion for 17 days. After 40 years of trials she managed to prove that she was innocent and she was cleared of all charges.
She wrote three books: In the Kitchen with Love (a cookbook, published in 1972), Women and Beauty (published in 1984), and Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life (published in 2014).
Sophia Loren attended only the elementary school and she never took acting classes. However, she played in more than 100 movies and she speaks fluently English and French.
“The two big advantages I had at birth were to have been born wise and to have been born in poverty.”
Sophia Loren is lucky enough to have lived two exquisite makeup eras: the glamorous 50’s (sensuous coral red lips and dramatic eyeliner) and the 60’s, the first “retro” decade (pale lips and double eyeliner).
I’ve chosen Sophia’s look in the 60’s as inspiration for this make-up I did on my lovely Italian friend, Monica.