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There is a refreshing simplicity to beauty this season, in both literal and conceptual terms: makeup artists are either making a decisive statement that pushes one element to the extreme, or adopting a variant on "no makeup" as an equally strong and relevant style choice for SS16. "You're either doing what looks like nothing or a strong something' summarizes Tom Pecheux.
The relative extremity of both these aesthetic options feels modern right now because they rebel against generic beauty. "It's about rejecting the idea that beauty can be a 'recipe' says Terry Barber of how makeup artists are exploring ways to elevate natural beauty while simultaneously challenging the idea of "perfection." That an embrace of "real" beauty has been relevant for a few seasons reveals that the notion of a total seasonal "reboot" on aesthetics is a rather outmoded concept: the story of modern makeup is a conversation that evolves from one season to the next. The current debate swings away from symmetry, airbrushing or homogenized proportions and swings toward representing a confident, sentient individual whose makeup fits her face rather than clones "a look." "It's like a new punk attitude in that it's a backlash, this rallying against "social media makeup," says Val Garland. "It just feels newer to not overthink and overwork things..."
Not least because the highly embellished and feminine clothes (of which there are many for SS16) do not look particularly stylish worn with very "pretty" hair and makeup. A palette-cleansing, groomed "Nothing" or a thrown-on idiosyncratic and upbeat accent of "AH" on an otherwise bare face " keeps that individuality and an element of rawness that is so essential to looking modern," concludes Diane Kendal.
This spirit and energy very much harks back to the 90s, a decade mined this season for the independent attitude that reimagined femininity as an unprocessed beauty. Fast-forward a couple of decades and technology brings an enriched simplicity to the rawness that was signature to those years: water-light formulas and veiled reflective pigments put a fresh, radiant skin at the core of this season's looks.
Beauty has scrutinized various guises of minimalism for a few seasons now, but it is poignant that a pared-back feel for beauty has evolved to the point that it underpins all makeup in some way, shape or form. "Skin has to appear through everything this season for it to appear modern," asserts Terry Barber. Whether you're seeing makeup1’ as an ornament to natural beauty or letting your face speak for itself, "the new eye of the makeup artist is not to put makeup everywhere," says Lyne Desnoyers. "There is nothing contrived, produced or 'done' this season," concludes Gordon Espinet. "The face is still more important than the makeup; it's about looking like the coolest version of yourself that you can be... it's all about the vibe."... Come as you are.... NOTHING
Taking the highly crafted and creative idea of facial jewellery and adornment and translating it into makeup has gained traction since last season. A kooky lash, a naive liner, an out-there lip...these are the tweaks of stylish eccentricity. Makeup is now viewed as an alternative form of accessory, as an extension of fashion more than a beautifying tool. These supremely confident statements project an attitude of beautiful contemporaneity - they are as simple as they are emphatically bold; jolts of kaleidoscopic colour in unexpected proportions worn against a simply prepared skin are singular, uncomplicated, free of pretense...and, importantly, playful and fun. "This isn't makeup that takes itself too seriously," explains Terry Barber. "It searches for an experimental, youthful and dynamic spirit that brings a beautiful and unexpected ornamentation to the face," agrees Lyne Desnoyers. "There is a real vibrancy to these looks...they're energetic."
Vital to this beauty direction are the highly personalized accents: for the runway the colours and exact placements of the makeup were switched up to work with the individual girl's features and the looks she was walking in. "This customization of makeup is completely related to the fact that the fashion industry's representation of beauty has moved forwards by leaps and bounds," says Gordon Espinet. "From the widened view of what is considered attractive (girls that twenty years ago would have been dubbed ugly are now the most cool, desirable models) to letting go of archaic standards and embracing every skin tone and ethnicity."
* Indeed, one can find myriad global influences at play behind this trend - from manga to Maasai, 70s to 90s - but this makeup projects a "no concept" air as opposed to anything heavily referenced. "It's about the classic idea of using one stand-alone element to make a makeup statement, but finding new ways to make this point," says Val Garland.
The Crayola-like spectrum pigments presiding over this season have a primary brightness, saturation and sense of naive spontaneity to their application. "There is such a new enthusiasm for colour, especially primary brights," notes Gordon Espinet. Worn as solitary gestures (there is a definitive straightforwardness to wearing just one colour that looks impeccably modern), "there is nothing retro or nostalgic about these bright colours or their placement," says Terry Barber.
Shows: gareth pugh, giamba, manish arora, giambattista valli, holly fulton, marques'almeida, missoni, ohne titel, max mara, veronique leroy ... "Colour is all." Marc Chagall CRAYON
International Klein blue and its close relatives come into the fore as the eye colour of the season. Manifested in liners, lashes and beyond, this true cobalt blue has a richness to it that is tempered by a naive application, giving the eyes an almost graffiti-like urban twist.
Shows: Alexis mabille, Giulietta ny, jonathan saunders, issey miyake, missoni, monique Lhuillier
"A certain blue enters your soul." Henri Matisse AQUATIC
A strong lip (more recently, worn on a bare face) is a statement beyond seasonal trend. What subtly updates red lips for now is that they are easy and youth-based as opposed to grounded in grown-up glamour.
"Red lips are the ultimate democratic beauty accessory; all women can make them their own," says Lyne Desnoyers. "They are pushed to the max this season - in terms of colour and texture (either high-shine or matte) but the rest of the face is so minimal that they have a casual feel."
Shows: desigual, giles, kenzo, oscar de la renta, veronique branquinho, vivienne westwood gold label
"There is no greatness where there is. no simplicity." Leo Tolstoy.. HOT CHERRY
"A little distorted, cute doll" is how Lucia Pieroni poignantly describes the tendency towards an unorthodox lash this season. "Mascara and lashes are now being used in an ornamental way, to give the eye an edgy feel that is full of attitude: telling a story of where this woman has been and what she has done," says Gordon Espinet.
Shows: AF Vandevorst, antonio marras, daks, libertine, marni, mary katrantzou, sibling, sonia rykiel, thomas tait, thorn browne
"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion." Francis Bacon BROKEN DOLL
"It used to be a tan was considered the luxury summer beauty statement...now it's incredibly good skin," says Lyne Desnoyners of the fact that skin quality is at the core of contemporary "no-makeup makeup." Less consciously refined than the elegance that characterized pared-back makeup last season, and in line with the pervasive 90s spirit, this new approach is about invisible enhancement and accentuating. "Really, really real...better versions of themselves," is how Val Garland describes these looks. "This is gym skin with an athletic, not cosmetic, health to it."
"It's approaching feminine makeup akin to the 'grooming' makeup we do for men," says Lisa Butler, speaking of how skincare prep is intrinsically part of these new minimal makeups. And while there are nuances to "Nothing" (rawness, luminosity and upgraded health being the key directions), makeup artists are unanimous in the opinion that "these looks are every woman's idea of how she'd ideally like to look with no makeup on. There is an absolute art to treading the fine line between creating a beautiful skin and one that has enough rawness to it to be modern," says Terry Barber. "Call it a backlash against the social media generated looks that are so glamorous, heavily retouched, filtered and unachievable," adds Gordon Espinet. "Beauty now is more about subtly bringing out a spirit; it is no longer left to the makeup artist to paint a character onto the face."
Essential, too, is the fact that artists have moved on from attempting to carve the face in contour or highlight. Luminosity is the new sculpting. "We are seeing a play on light take on a super elegant* rather than high-tech feel. Strobe Cream makes the skin appear incredibly precious and super expensive; it just looks like impeccably refined skin/' says Lyne Desnoyers. At its most "finished" there is an uber-version of this girl, who confidently flirts with the idea of a tan without actually looking bronzed, but regardless of the specific gradient of "Nothing," this aesthetic is ultimately about attainability. "The concept of runway-to-reality feels old now," points out Romero Jennings. "The most important thing now is individualism and makeup that translates straight to the street."
"It's a beautiful rawness," says Lucia Pieroni of the omnipresent steer toward lo-fi beauty. "It's about really looking at how to accentuate the beauty in a face in an invisible way and the importance of understanding that there's no strict prescription to this...evening-out and polishing the skin tone but only minimally so." Mimicking the appearance of real skin that is enhanced with little more than moisture, "raw" makeup ranges from just a touch of concealer to something charged with three- dimensionality thanks to careful placement of hydration against a bare complexion. "There is a movement in makeup technique that is less 'makeup artist' and more 'woman'," says Gordon Espinet. "The fashion world is over the #filter makeup." Diane Kendal, a makeup artist synonymous with this look, agrees: "I just find it very unflattering to see a thick base and powder; fresh skin makes a much cooler statement."
Shows: chloE, courrEges, emilio pucci, hood by air, john galliano, jean-pierre braganza, marco de vincenzo, msgm, rick owens, paul smith, rag & bone, vetements
"I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, i feel free now." "Bittersweet Symphony," The Verve
The enduring fascination with divining new ways to bring lightness and brightness to the complexion beams, this season, toward the fractionated luminosity of quartz and crystal, for a lustrous strobe-lit finish. "It's more radiant than metallic, with a satin, pearly sheen," says Petros Petrohilos.
"Texture is simply vital to modern, natural makeup," says Gordon Espinet. "we are drawing attention to specific areas by adding some points of shine to contrast against matte skin." a bounce of light on the cheekbones and high planes does automatically lend a degree of shaping that pulls out the features. "It brings out a lot of different reflections in the skin for a multi-faceted feel," explains Val Garland.
Shows: ann demeulemeester, delpozo, etro, iris van herpen, IEA PECKRE, Haider Ackermann, OSKLEN, PREEN, PROENZA SCHOULER, SIMONE ROCHA, VIVIENNE WESTWOOD RED LABEL, ZAC POSEN
"He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star." WILLIAM BLAKE
"Sun-kissed rather than suntanned," says Lynsey Alexander of the new, upgraded glow, it's taking a 90s palette and using it in a very fresh way." Indeed, while these makeups nod to the supermodel side of the 90s, there is none of the sharpness and carving that characterized the original "supers."
"It's a finished beauty but not heavily 'done,'" says Tom Pecheux. Cue burnished, lucid golden tones that "play with the light to give a dreamy, goddess-like quality to the skin," says Charlotte Tilbury. "The colours are more radiance-boosting taupes, peaches and corals than tanned, though," clarifies Lyne Desnoyers. "For this makeup to look modern it absolutely has to look like a second skin."
SHOWS: ALBERTA FERRETTI, ALTUZARRA, BARABARA CASASOLA, BLUMARINE, CAROLINA HERRERA, CARVEN, DSQUARED2, J.JS LEE, LEMAIRE, MOSCHINO, PRABAL GURUNG, SALVATORE FERRAGAMO, STELLA JEAN, VERSUS VERSACE